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Jimmie Dale is a fictional character created by Frank L. Packard in 1914.
A wealthy playboy by day, at night he puts on inconspicuous dark clothes, a mask and a black slouch hat and becomes The Gray Seal, who enters businesses or homes and cracks safes, always leaving a diamond shaped, gray paper "seal" behind to mark his conquest (so others will not be blamed for his crimes), but never taking anything. He was just doing it for "the sheer deviltry of it" at first, but when an unknown woman known only as Tocsin (from chapter 7, after he finds a ring belonging to her with "Sonnez le Tocsin" on it, French for "Ring the alarm bell") catches him she blackmails him to war on certain crime organizations. In the first story, she has left him alone for a year with no new cases. She soon makes up for lost time.
As the Gray Seal, he wears a mask and carries a girdle full of lock picks and such meaning no door or safe can defy him. A case starts with Dale receiving a letter in a roundabout way from the woman with very complete instructions on what he is to do. He memorises the letter then totally destroys it. He has searched for clues as to who she is but has found none. Though Dale carries a gun, he does not kill, not even when a thief stole a letter before he read it and learned his identity.
Educated at Harvard and with a house on the expensive Riverside Drive, Dale is a member of the very select St. James Club, having inherited a lot of money from his late father when he sold his safe making business. Jason is his butler and Benson his chauffeur. He also owns an old house with three exits (one hidden) in the Bowery (Manhattan) which he calls his Sanctuary and keeps some changes of clothes and make up there for when he becomes the hard faced dope fiend, "Larry The Bat" for when he meets a trusted Underworld connection, Pete Lazanis also called "The Runt", for information. He is also an old friend to Herman Carruthers, editor of the (morning) News-Argus newspaper, another source of information and someone who hopes to expose the Gray Seal's real identity one day.
- The Adventures of Jimmie Dale Toronto : Copp Clark 1917
- The further adventures of Jimmie Dale Toronto : Copp, Clark 1919
- Jimmie Dale and the phantom clue New York : A.L. Burt 1922
- Jimmie Dale and Blue Envelope Murder New York : Doubleday, Doran and Company 1930
- Jimmie Dale and the Missing Hour (1935)
In 2007, the first two books featuring Jimmie Dale/The Gray Seal were re-released as an e-book entitled Return of The Gray Seal.
2017 saw the publication of the pastiche novel, Jimmie Dale, Alias the Gray Seal, by Michael Howard. This is the first new Jimmie Dale book since 1935.
He also appeared in a movie serial, Jimmie Dale Alias the Gray Seal, in 1917.
Chapters titles were: 1. The Grey Seal 2. The Stolen Rubies 3. The Counterfeit Five 4. The Metzer Murder Mystery 5. A Fight for Honor 6. Below the Deadline 7. The Devil's Work 8. The Underdog 9. The Alibi 10. Two Crooks and a Knave 11. A Rogue's Defeat 12. The Man Higher Up 13. Good for Evil 14. A Sheep Among Wolves 15. The Tapped Wires 16. The Victory.
Jimmie Dale/The Gray Seal is often credited with popularizing and evolving what would greatly influence later pulp and comic book heroes. The foppish playboy by-day-crimefighter-by-night routine had a precursor in The Scarlet Pimpernel, but it was Jimmie Dale that brought the idea into a contemporary setting and added the idea of a costume and mask for his secret identity, serving as a possible influence for characters like Zorro and The Shadow.
- Return of the Gray Seal book.
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