Cleek, Hamilton. Hamilton Cleek was created by Thomas W. Hanshew and appeared in over forty short stories and twelve novels and short story collections from 1910 to 1932, beginning with “The Affair of the Man Who Called Himself Hamilton Cleek” (People’s Ideal Fiction Magazine, Aug. 1910); he also appeared in the film serial The Chronicles of Cleek (1913-1914). Hamilton Cleek is a Superhuman Lupin. Hanshew described Cleek in this way:
“The biggest and boldest criminal the police had ever had to cope with, the almost supernatural genius of crime…who for sheer deviltry, for diabolical ingenuity and for colossal impudence…had not met his match in all the universe.
“Who or what he really was…no man knew…in his many encounters with the police he had assumed the speech, the characteristics, and, indeed, the facial attributes of various nationalities…with an ease and a perfection that…had gained him the sobriquet of “Forty Faces” among the police, and of “The Vanishing Cracksman” from newspaperdom.”
Cleek is actually of royal descent, “Hamilton Cleek” being only an assumed name. He is the titled King of Maurevania, “that dear land of desolated hopes, dear grave of murdered joys.” His mother, Queen Karma, was exiled and died penniless. Cleek’s daughter died young, and his other brother disappeared into Persia. Cleek himself simply vanished, and there is no record of what he did after leaving Maurevania and before beginning his life of crime in Europe.
Cleek being high-minded, he carried out his crimes with style. He always warned the police when and where he would strike next, giving them twelve hours’ warning. They are never successful in stopping him, and the morning after each exploit Superintendent Maverick Narkom of Scotland Yard would receive a small item from the theft, always contained in a small pink box tied with a rose ribbon, and accompanied by a card which reads “With the compliments of the man who calls himself Hamilton Cleek.” Eventually Cleek falls in love and decides to reform. He offers his services to Narkom, who gladly accepts the, and Cleek becomes a consulting detective. Cleek is assisted by his Cockney servant Dollops.
Cleek, around 30 years of age, is “faultlessly dress, faultlessly mannered, with the slim-loined form, the slim-walled nose, and the clear-cut features of the born aristocrat…there was something about him, in look, in speech, in bearing, that mutely stood sponsor for the thing called `birth.’” His most distinguishing feature is his face. While pregnant Cleek’s mother played with a rubber-faced toy, and this somehow affected Cleek, giving him the ability to rearrange the features of his face, somehow making the bone and cartilage go as flexible as putty.