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

Hall, Satan. Satan Hall was created by Carroll John Daly (Vee Brown, Marty Day, Clay Holt, Terry Mack, Mr. Strang, Race Williams) and appeared in twenty-two stories in a number of magazines and three novels and short story collections from 1931 to 1954, beginning with “Satan’s Lash” (Detective Story Magazine, Aug. 8 1931).

Satan Hall is a Killer Vigilante. Detective First Grade Frank "Satan" Hall has slanted green eyes, thin lips, a pointed chin, and a widow's peak, all of which give him a demonic look. His actions match his appearance: he is violent and rarely operates within the rules. He does get results, however, and he is feared by every criminal in New York City, especially Johnny Zitto, the city’s crime boss. Hall is known as the "Hunter of Men" and the "Lone Wolf of the Department" and can not be bribed or dissuaded. The Police Commissioner doesn’t approve of Hall's actions, but finds him useful--the criminals Hall deals with aren’t in jail, where they belong, but they are dead and so wouldn't bother anyone again–and isn't above asking Hall to quietly get rid of individual gangsters.

Nor does Hall scruple at the occasional “execution” of a criminal if Hall believes the man deserves it. Despite his propensity for violence Hall is a first-grade detective. Although Hall is as quick with his gun as any cowboy or gangster, it is not his only skill. He is intelligent, methodical in his investigations, and well-educated. His nickname comes from his looks and his laugh, which is "merciless, sinister, cruel, a weird, eerie sort of sound; once heard, not forgotten." Among criminals it was thought that he had a supernaturally charmed life. Hall is aided by Mattie Hern, a saloon girl, and the wealthy detective Nina Radcliff.

* I'm including Satan Hall in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because he is an (and perhaps the) archetypal Killer Vigilante. Perhaps it's better to say "iconic Killer Vigilante," since there were several different paths in the pulps to becoming iconic at murdering criminals. But Satan Hall certainly counts as one of the iconic Killer Vigilantes. He's got the distinctive appearance, the violent habits, the unique weapon (his whip, seen on the cover above), the body count, the sociopathic hatred of criminals, the faithful assistants, and the implicit approval of both the police and the author. That the Satan Hall stories are moderately entertaining--I can't say that Carroll John Daly was more than a moderately talented writer--helps. 

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