Saturday, January 21, 2023

Dr. Thaddeus C. Harker - The Complete Tales by Edwin Truett Long

Dr. Thaddeus C. Harker, along with his two assistants, the lovely Brenda Sloan and the muscular slow-witted Hercules Jones, travel the country in the guise of a travelling medicine show, selling their cure-all, “Chickasha Remedies”. But it seems that at every stop, they encounter crime and thus Doc Harker is obliged to utilize his considerable sleuthing skills, his forthright and charming personality, and his trailer that doubles as a criminology laboratory to solve the crimes.  His plans to thwart the criminals are quite complex and make good use of Brenda, (often as bait), and Herc as the muscle.

This book collects all three of the Doc Harker novellas ever published by the author Edwin Truett Long, a prolific pulp writer in the 1930s and 1940s, under a wide variety of pseudonyms. Altus Press (now Steeger Books) did their usual wonderful job in reprinting these stories from yesteryear. The stories are as follows:

Crime Nest, originally appearing in the June 1940 issue of Dime Detective Novels (Volume 1, Number 1)

Woe to the Vanquished, originally appearing in the June 1940 issue of Red Star Detective (Volume 1, Number 2)

South of the Border, originally appearing in the June 1940 issue of Red Star Detective (Volume 1, Number 3)

All are part of the Munsey-owned pulp mags (probably best known for Argosy) and in fact Doc Harker was used as the primary drawing card for the brand new launch of Dime Detective Novels pulp magazine in 1940 (not to be confused with the very popular Dime Detective Magazine).

The novellas themselves are filled with adventurous action, dangerous situations, and a variety of pulpy characters.  I found the plots to be a little on the convoluted side and felt like I wasn’t always privy to the clues that Doc Harker had available to him.  The stories probably are not as polished as what we might read today but given the sheer number of stories that this author turned out that is hardly surprising.  But in the end, they are good, hearty stories and good for an evening’s entertainment.


  1. The first issue is not "Dime Detective Novels" but rather "Detective Dime Novels" in a callback to the dime novels that the pulps evolved from. But now that you mention it, I'll bet the change in title to "Red Star Detective" came after a complaint from the publishers of "Dime Detective Magazine." At the same time, Munsey's new "Western Dime Novels" also got its name changed after one issue, to "Silver Buck Western."

  2. I really enjoyed this series. Certainly different than anything else at the time.