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)


  1. I have started re-reading McBain and will get to this one eventually. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I am a culturally deaf person and will read them to see how Ed portrayed a deaf person. Sign language mentioned in any of the six novels the deaf man was in?

  3. My memory is that the Deaf Man describes himself as "a little hard of hearing" and uses a hearing aid. His pseudonyms are always references to this: D.R. Taubman, Mort Orecchio. Since we never find out much about him, we don't know any details. If you don't mind me asking, I have never heard the term "culturally deaf" before. Would you care to elaborate?