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The Monk of Ironstone Prison. The Monk of Ironstone Prison appeared in a number of stories in The Surprise in 1932 and 1933, beginning with “The Hut on the Crag” (The Surprise, Dec. 31, 1932).

The Monk of Ironstone Prison is a Costumed Avenger. Gregory Cowl was a greedy adventurer who by the age of thirty had learned all the tricks and skills and cunning of the thieves of the world. But his own greed led to his wasting a fortune in radioactive treasure and being imprisoned. When he was finally released from jail he was wealthy thanks to a dead relative’s largesse. Cowl decided to devote himself to helping those prisoners who were unjustly convicted or who kindness can transform. Cowl moved to a hut on a lonely crag near Ironstone Prison, along the cold wastes of Crag Moor, and now haunts the moor as the robed, cowled Monk. His usual activities are to sneak into Ironstone and comfort the prisoners. But when a prisoner was unjustly convicted, the Monk arranges the man’s escape and helps him clear his name. The Monk is grim and gaunt, is strangely knowledgeable about the underworld and puts that knowledge and his many skills to good use.

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