The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Anna Brandt.

missbrandtBrandt, Anna. Anna Brandt was created by Margery Lawrence (Miles Pennoyer) and appeared in three novellas which were collected in Miss Brandt: Adventuress (1923). Anna Brandt is a Lupin (master thief). She is a tall, slim, beautiful European adventuress and thief known as “Fly-By-Night.” But Brandt is no ordinary thief. She is, of course, cool, composed, humorous with a touch of maliciousness, and capable of violence and mercilessness when necessary (she shoots a helpless man in the shoulder just to ensure her escape). But she is daring enough, and sportswoman enough, to let the world know her real name, and let her victims know who she is, without regard for any consequences. Brandt is clever enough, and skillful enough, that her reputation is not a hindrance to her. She has a mysterious past, but it is obvious that she is from the upper classes–she speaks several languages, rides like a trooper, and “knows the world and all the little finesses that go to complete the polishing of a very exquisitely finished woman of the world.” It’s said that she was socially disgraced by her faithless lover, and in revenge robbed first him and then turned to robbing Society. Brandt is assisted by the mute Zach, himself of unknown background, but although sinister and even repellant is faithful to Brandt, a good chauffeur and cook, and excellent sidekick in crime. Brandt is hunted by Jack Dering of Scotland Yard, a persistent admirer and Loving Enemy. Unfortunately, she eventually throws over a life of adventure and crime to be Dering’s wife.

Miss Brandt, Adventuress is the flip side of the dime novel/pulp trend (which really began in the 1890s) toward female detectives. By the 1920s there were enough lone female detectives to fill a good anthology, so authors (many of them women) had begun writing about their criminal counterparts, many of whom were more distinctive than similar male characters. Miss Brandt is a cracking good read, and Anna Brandt (despite the unfortunately cliched ending) is a memorable character.

Sadly, the book is not available online, but any publisher interested in a nice slice of female crime from the 1920s could do a lot worse than to reprint Miss Brandt, Adventuress.

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