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Petrosino, Joe. Joe Petrosino (1860-1909) was an Italian who emigrated to America when he was thirteen years old and became a New York City police detective. He gained acclaim in New York for his success in fighting the Mafia, and in 1909 he went to Italy to continue the fight against the Mafia. Soon after he arrived in Italy he was murdered by Mafia killers. Petrosino became a hero to the Mafia-hating citizens of Italy, and just before his death he appeared in the Italian Celebrity Pulp dime novel Giuseppe Petrosino, il Sherlock Holmes d'Italia #1-100 (1909-1910) and the German dime novel Josef Petrosino, der Schrecken der Schwarzen Hand #1-100 (1910-1911), and within five years in similar series in Italy and France.

The fictional Petrosino is a Great Detective who, after saving the life of Theodore Roosevelt, is put in charge of a secret police group dedicated to crushing the Mafia, a.k.a. the Black Hand, which is led by the vile Monk Eastman. In the 1930s Petrosino became the lead in the comic strip “L’Avventuroso.” In personality and habits Petrosino is a Sherlock Holmes lift, but Petrosino’s adventures are vigorous and action oriented, much more like Nick Carter (I)’s than Holmes’. Petrosino’s archenemy is the monstrous Evil Surgeon Professor Tom Flax, a virtual double of Dr. Quartz.

* I'm including Joe Petrosino in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of his archetypal status. The Joe Petrosino stories are decent crime/detective/mystery stories, and the stories wouldn't have been nearly as popular and their series wouldn't have lasted nearly as long as they did without the widespread knowledge of who Petrosino was--he was an international celebrity at the time of his death--and what he did and, later, how he died. But because Petrosino was so famous and so widely venerated as a noble foe of the Black Hand/Mafia, he became in real life the archetype of the 1900s/1910s Mafia-fighters, and that status transferred into the pulps of the world. During those two decades, pulps that portrayed Mafia-fighters were inevitably influenced by the Petrosino stories and by the real and the fictional portrayals of Petrosino. The stories themselves vary in quality from (mostly) decent to (occasionally) very good, with Petrosino's battles with Professor Tom Flax being the highlights of the series. 

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