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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Flame, Dr. Dr. Flame was created by Norbert Davis (John Collins, Doan, William Dodd, Mark Hull, The Judge, Max Latin, Simeon Saxon, Ben Shaley) and appeared in four stories in Detective Tales from 1939 to 1942, beginning with “Children of Murder” (Detective Tales, Sept. 1939).

Dr. Flame is a Killer Vigilante. He is a brilliant dwarf:

He was an ugly and repulsive little man running down a slum street in the cold greyness of the dawn. Running to save the child of an ignorant laborer who had no money to pay him. This was Doctor Edward Carl Flame, who held advanced degrees in medical science from ten internationally famous universities. This was the man who had heard himself praised by the most noted instructors and heard them say again and again that his was one of the most brilliant medical minds of the generation….

Here was the man who had waited and waited alone in his empty office in the most prosperous part of the city, waiting vainly to use the talent that was his. The fashionable sick shunned him because he was repulsive and ugly to them. They couldn’t understand that he had neither the patience nor the desire to soothe or flatter. He wanted to cure them if he could. He wanted nothing else. He had no time for diplomacy.

Flame moved to the slums and began serving the poor and healing them. They can’t pay him, but he doesn’t care about that–he just wants to practice medicine. But the longer he stays in the slums, the more filled with rage he grows, against suffering and child murderers most of all, and when he finds them, he kills them. He is a hard man, vengeful, and abrasive, but he likes and respects Detective Inspector Conniston of the local police, and that respect is returned.

* I've included the Dr. Flame stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they are unexpectedly compelling. No one would mistake Norbert Davis with the best writers of the pulps, but he could occasionally hit the high notes those other writers regularly played (as in, for example, the Doan stories). With the Dr. Flame stories, he played entire songs in that register. The Dr. Flame stories are prime hardboiled noir with a great protagonist and a social conscience, and it's a real shame that Davis didn't write more stories about Dr. Flame. 

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