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

Smith, Silent. Silent Smith was created by “Day Keene,” the pseudonym of Gunnar Hjerstedt (Tom Doyle, Herman the Great, Kitty Keene, Matt Mercer), and appeared in nine stories in Dime Mystery Magazine and Detective Tales from 1940 to 1945, beginning with “Mr. Smith’s Flying Corpses” (Dime Mystery Magazine, Dec. 1940).

Silent Smith, sometimes called “the Silver Fox,” is a quasi-legal power in New York City. He began small, as a boy, shining shoes and selling papers and peddling gimcracks, and through hard work became The Guy Behind The Guy in the city. Well, hard work, and skill at gambling. “For the last forty-five years he had gambled, gambled on men as well as on the more predictable games of chance such as horses, dice and cards.” Smith gambles on boys, as well, orphans without homes or parents. Smith stakes them to a start, and when they grow up, whether they are policemen or mouthpieces for lawyers, they remain his boys, and help him however they can.

Smith doesn’t speak much, and is “sixty and looked forty. He was a dapper little man with kindly eyes and silvered temples.” He wears a four-carat, square-cut diamond in his tie. Among his enemies is a group of Nazi Evil Surgeon Mad Scientists loose in New York City.

* I'm including the Silent Smith stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are well-written. Well-written by pulp standards, anyhow. Gunnar Hjerstedt was and is better known as a novelist, and the Silent Smith stories appeared relatively early in his career as a writer. More than his other pulp stories, the Silent Smith stories hint at the casual competence he would later display. Smith and his "boys" are an entertaining group, the intrusion of Nazi Mad Scientists into a mystery series works smoothly in Hjerstedt's hands, and the stories in general give off an air of letting the reader in on the secrets of how NYC actually is run, which is always an enjoyable thing to read. 

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