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

Williams, Race. Race Williams was created by Carroll John Daly (Vee Brown, Marty Day, Satan Hall, Clay Holt, Terry Mack, Mr. Strang) and appeared in eighty-four short stories and serials and eight novels and short story collections from 1923 to 1955, beginning with “Knights of the Open Palm” (Black Mask, June 1, 1923).

Race Williams is arguably the first of the hard-boiled detectives. Williams is not as bright or clever as Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade, and has minimal detecting skills. Williams relies on intuition, attitude, violence, and his natural toughness to get him through the tougher situations. He is around six feet tall, dark with black hair, of Scottish-Irish descent, and quick with the quips. He racks up an impressive body count, has little conscience about killing his enemies, and shows an astounding ability to bounce back from physical punishment with no deleterious effects.

* I'm including the Race Williams stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because he is the archetypal hardboiled detective. He preceded Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade by several years, and Carroll John Daly made sure to make Williams as hardboiled, and violent, as possible, in accordance with audience and editorial demands. The real flourishing of hardboiled detectives and then Bellems would occur until the 1930s, and the Race Williams stories are no more than mediocre, but being the first at something and being an inspiration for other characters (as Race Williams was, during the 1920s) counts to make you an icon, and that's enough to gain entrance onto the Best of the Encyclopedia list. 

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