A daily note on some event in the history of mystery fiction.
Friday, April 1, 2016
4/1/1959 The Deaf Man arrives
April 1, 1959. One of the great villains of crime fiction makes his first appearance on April Fool's Day, appropriately enough, when Ed McBain's The Heckler opens. The Deaf Man (he uses a hearing aid and always uses pseudonyms that relate to deafness) is brilliant, dangerous, and sexy. We never learn anything about his background, true identity, or why he takes great glee in harassing the cops of the 87th Precinct. Like a Batman villain, he will send the cops clues as to his intentions, but his goal is to use their investigations as part of his own elaborate plots. He is usually foiled by accidents and coincidence, not by the actions of our heroes, and then slinks off to rob another day. He appears in six of the novels, making his last escape in Hark! (2004).