The deaf man

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The Deaf Man is a character in the 87th Precinct series of police procedurals by author Ed McBain (pseudonym of Evan Hunter). A criminal mastermind who delights in creating complex schemes, The Deaf Man is usually pitted against the men of the 87th Precinct as he creates havoc in the fictional city of Isola.


The Deaf Man is a tall, blond man whose real name is never revealed. He is a meticulous criminal planner who appears in a number of the 87th Precinct novels, usually plotting some spectacular crime while sending obscure, cryptic 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.[1]

The Deaf Man is not actually deaf; 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".

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 in his dealing with The Deaf Man, since Carella is himself married to a deaf person. Both Carella and The Deaf Man have 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 has no compunction about injuring or killing police officers or citizens during the commission of his crimes, but always has the motive of financial profit as his underlying goal. In later novels, he also has a secondary goal of gaining revenge on Carella and the 87th for (often inadvertently) thwarting some of his most ambitious criminal plans.

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! (1973)
  • 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.

In the movie version of Fuzz, he was played by Yul Brynner.


  1. ^ [1] Stasio, Marilyn "Crime," The New York Times, August 22, 2004. Retrieved Aprili 12, 2011