No. 531
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
July 26, 2021

Old King Brady.

The greatest dime novel detective.
February 14, 2012
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32 Coxwell Road was not, even by the standards of council houses in 1950s Birmingham, England, anything special to look at.  But for the family of 31-year-old ex-paratrooper Frank Pell, it was a palace compared to their previous lodgings--a house so dilapidated it was officially condemned.  The three-bedroom home was newly decorated, on a quiet road close to all necessary services.  And the rent
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Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020

When painters depict the East River, it’s usually from the Manhattan side: a steel bridge, choppy waters, and a Brooklyn or Queens waterfront either thick with factories or quaint and almost rural. But when Richard Hayley Lever decided to paint the river in 1936, he did it from Astoria. What he captured in “Queensboro Bridge […]
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Ephemeral New York - 7/26/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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When Horatio Sherman took sick after returning home from a week-long drunken spree, he said it was just one of his “old spells.” His wife Lydia agreed, and dosed him with brandy as usual. But Horatio’s doctor, who had treated his alcohol induced “spells” before, was suspicious this time. Horatio died two days later, and the doctor ordered a post-mortem examination which revealed the cause of
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Murder By Gaslight - 7/24/2021

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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 7/21/2021
It Was Another Kind of Cat. | A New Gag.

Old King Brady.

Hop Lee
Old King Brady was probably the most popular of the nineteenth-century dime novel detectives. The first of his adventures was published in 1885 (though the action takes place in 1881) when New
Sleuth-Hound
Old King Brady, 1885
York City detective James Brady was between fifty and sixty years old. He was called King because he was “…the most celebrated of all the famous detectives the United States has produced.” “Old” was probably added to his title as an attempt to ride the success of Old Sleuth, the first dime novel detective who was introduced in
Old-Sleuth
Old Sleuth
1872—though Old Sleuth was actually a young man who would disguise himself a wizened old man.

 

Old King Brady was tall and clean-shaven with short gray hair. He had gray eyes, an aquiline nose, and perfect white teeth. Brady always wore a long, blue, military cut coat and a broad-brimmed hat. He did not possess the keen intellect of Sherlock Holmes or Edgar Allen Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, nor was he afflicted with any of the eccentricities of these literary detectives. He was pure and moral, solving his cases with dogged determination, and thorough police work. And in the inevitable showdown with the bad guys, Old King Brady was a man of action who never failed.

 

104 Old King Brady stories were published between 1885 and 1894 written by Francis Worcester Doughty under the penname “A New York Detective.” After a five year hiatus, Old King Brady returned in 1899 forming the Brady Detective Bureau which reported directly to the United States Secret Service. Joining him was Harry Brady, known as Young King Brady—they had the same last name, but James and Harry were not related. Also with the Bureau was Alice Montgomery, a blond, attractive former operative for the Australian Secret Service.

Joss-House-Jim
The Bradys and Joss House Jim

Though they fought crimes throughout the United States and in exotic locations around the world, the Bradys spent much of their time on Mott Street in New York City, and in San Francisco’s Chinatown, fighting the “Yellow Peril.” Their enemies were most often Chinese highbinders, opium peddlers, and white slavers, with names like Hop Lee, Hi-Lo-Jak, and Joss House Jim.

After 726 more weekly adventures between 1899 and 1912 the Brady Detective Bureau closed up shop. “A New York Detective” had run out of plots and dime novels, in general, could not compete with moving pictures for the small change of American boys.














Sources:
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. Old King Brady, the sleuth-hound. New York: F. Tousey, 1885.
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. Hop Lee, the Chinese slave dealer, or, Old and Young King Brady and the opium fiends: a story of shrewd detective work in San Francisco. New York: Frank Tousey, 1899.
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. The Bradys and “Joss House Jim,” or, Tracking a Chinese Crook. New York: Frank Tousey, 1909.
  • Hoppenstand, Gary. The Dime novel detective. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982.
  • Old Sleuth, the detective, or, The Bay Ridge mystery. New York: G. Munro, 1885.
  • Dime Novel Castle