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Rennie, Doc. Doc Rennie was created by C.P. Donnel, Jr., and appeared in sixteen stories in Black Mask from 1941 to 1945, beginning with “The Man Who Knew Fear” (Black Mask, Jan. 1941).

Dr. Walter Rennie

was a brain surgeon till he got more interested in talking his way into a person’s head than in drilling his way in through the bone. So now he’s a psychiatrist. He spotted a murder for me once that not a cop in the country would have called., he’s a peculiar sort of duck—that is, he thinks ahead of you and he’s sort of hard to follow.

He has “crackling red hair…with his freckles lit up by that thousand-watt grin” and is “built like a broad-shouldered scarecrow, barks like a bulldog, when he’s excited.” He’s good at getting people to talk to him, but if they won’t, he’ll do what he has to, including driving bad criminals insane in order to get them to confess to crimes. Rennie begins as a civilian in Essexville, then enters the USA Medical Corps, and eventually leaves the Corps and returns to Essexville. Rennie’s sidekick in Essexville is a grim, hard-boiled Sheriff who is happy to let Rennie do what he wants.

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