Carroll John Daly

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Carroll John Daly (September 14, 1889 – January 16, 1958) was a writer of crime fiction.[1]


Daly has been credited with creating the first hard-boiled story, "The False Burton Combs", published in Black Mask magazine in December 1922, followed closely by "It's All in the Game" (Black Mask, April 1923) and the PI story "Three Gun Terry" (Black Mask, May 1923).[2][3] Daly's private detective Race Williams first appeared in "Knights of the Open Palm", an anti-Ku Klux Klan story.[1] "Knights of the Open Palm" was published June 1, 1923, in Black Mask, predating the October 1923 debut of Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op character.[4][5][6] Although Black Mask editor George Sutton did not like the Race Williams stories, they were so popular with readers that he asked Daly to continue writing them.[1] Daly's Williams was a rough-and-ready character with a sharp tongue and established the model for many later acerbic private eyes. Daly also created other pulp detectives, including Detective Satan Hall, "Three-Gun Terry" Mack, and Vee Brown.[7] During the 1920s and 1930s, Daly was considered the leader of the naturalistic school of crime writers. Daly was a hugely popular author: his name on a pulp magazine cover meant an increase in sales.[7] A Black Mask readers' poll once showed Daly as the most popular writer in the magazine, ahead of Hammett and Erle Stanley Gardner.[7] In addition to Black Mask, Daly also wrote for other pulp magazines, including Detective Fiction Weekly and Dime Detective.[8]

In the 1940s, Daly's work fell out of fashion with crime fiction readers, and he moved to California to work on comics[9] and film scripts. When Mickey Spillane became a bestselling novelist with Mike Hammer, a character similar to Daly's detectives, Daly remarked bitterly "I'm broke, and this guy gets rich writing about my detective."[1]


  • The White Circle (1926)
  • The Snarl of the Beast (1927)
  • Man in the Shadows (1928)
  • The Hidden Hand (1929)
  • The Tag Murders (1930)
  • Tainted Power (1931)
  • The Third Murderer (1931)
  • The Amateur Murderer (1933)
  • Murder Won’t Wait (1933)
  • Murder from the East (1935)
  • Mr. Strang (1936)
  • The Mystery of the Smoking Gun (1936)
  • The Emperor of Evil (1937)
  • Better Corpses (1940)
  • Murder at Our House (1950)
  • Ready to Burn (1951)


  • "The False Burton Combs", Black Mask, December 1922, in Herbert Ruhm (1977), ed., The Hard-boiled Detective: Stories from "Black Mask" Magazine (1920-1951), New York: Vintage.


  1. ^ a b c d Server, Lee (1993). Danger Is My Business: an illustrated history of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. pp. 62–65. ISBN 978-0-8118-0112-6.
  2. ^ Gruesser, John Cullen (2010). A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841-1940. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 297. ISBN 9780786446506.
  3. ^ Panek, Leroy Lad (1990). Probable Cause: Crime Fiction in America. Bowling Green, OH: Popular Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780879724856.
  4. ^ Nolan, William F. (1985). The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction. William Morrow & Company. p. 273. ISBN 0-688-03966-9.
  5. ^ Mertz, Stephen. "In Defense of Carroll John Daly". Black Mask Online.
  6. ^ Barson, Michael S. (Fall–Winter 1981). "'There's No Sex in Crime': The Two-Fisted Homilies of Race Williams". Clues: A Journal of Detection. 2 (2): 103–12.
  7. ^ a b c DeAndrea, William L (1994). Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: a comprehensive guide to the art of detection in print, film, radio, and television. New York: Prentice Hall General Reference. p. 83. ISBN 0-671-85025-3.
  8. ^ Hulse, Ed (2007). The Blood 'N' Thunder Guide to collecting pulps. Morris Plains, NJ: Murania Press. pp. 111, 117. ISBN 978-0-9795955-0-9.
  9. ^ Herbert Ruhm, "Introduction", in Herbert Ruhm (1977), ed., The Hard-boiled Detective: Stories from "Black Mask" Magazine (1920-1951), New York: Vintage, p. xviii.

Other resources[edit]

Daly, Carroll John (1947). "The Ambulating Lady" [essay on his writing style]. Writer's Digest April 1947. Repr. Clues: A Journal of Detection 2.2 (1981): 113-15.

External links[edit]