The deaf man
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The Deaf Man is a criminal mastermind who appears in a number of the novels, usually plotting some spectacular crime while sending clues to the 87th Precinct, as if daring the detectives there to thwart him. In most of the stories, these clues are intended to mislead the police, directing them away from The Deaf Man's real goal.
The Deaf Man is not actually deaf, but this is just another layer of disguise and misdirection. He wears a hearing aid, and uses odd pseudonyms referring to deafness. Examples include "L. Sordo" ("el sordo" means "the deaf man" in Spanish), "Mort Orecchio" (roughly "dead ear" in Italian) and D. R. Taubmann ("der taube Mann" meaning "the deaf man" in German). When he calls the detectives of the 87th, he'll commonly start the conversation with some version of "You'll have to speak up. I'm a little hard of hearing," and his main "nemesis" at the 87th Precinct (at least the one he contacts the most) seems to be Det. Steve Carella (who always feels a sense of irony since he is married to a deaf person); each one has bullet wounds inflicted by the other, Carella from a shotgun in The Heckler and The Deaf Man from Carella's service revolver in Fuzz. The Deaf Man even had Carella mugged and his badge/police ID stolen in Let's Hear It For The Deaf Man!, which he has since used to impersonate Carella.
The Deaf Man was last seen in "Hark!" (2004). The ending of "Hark!" leaves the Deaf Man still free, and presumably able to plot more mischief for the 87th Precinct at some later time.
The Deaf Man appears in the following 87th Precinct novels:
- The Heckler (1960)
- Fuzz (1968)
- Let's Hear it for the Deaf Man! (1972)
- Eight Black Horses (1985)
- Mischief (1993)
- Hark! (2004)
In other 87th Precinct novels where The Deaf Man does not appear, characters on occasion make reference to him and his crimes.
-  Stasio, Marilyn "Crime," The New York Times, August 22, 2004. Retrieved Aprili 12, 2011