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Phantom Crook. The Phantom Crook was created by Erle Stanley Gardner (Black Barr, Major Copley Brane, Terry Clane, Bertha Cool, Ken Corning, Speed Dash, Jax Keen, Barney Killigen, Bob Larkin, Lester Leith, Señor Lobo, The Man in the Silver Mask, Perry Mason, Ed Migraine, Patent Leather Kid, Paul Pry (II), Doug Selby, Pete Wennick, White Rings, Gramps Wiggins, Bob Zane, Sidney Zoom) and appeared in seventy-four stories in Black Mask from 1925 to 1943, beginning with “Beyond the Law” (Black Mask, Jan. 1925).
Ed Jenkins is the Phantom Crook. He is wanted in three nations and six states, although he is immune to extradition from California “because of a technicality.” Strictly speaking he is not a fugitive from the law, but both the police and criminals know who he is, and both sides attempt to victimize him because of it. (This is a mistake that both sides pay for). The public knows who he is, as well--a Sunday supplement article described Jenkins and named him, described his faithful dog Bobo, and exulted in the police’s failure to catch him. The Crook works on his own, for his own reasons, which are usually to help others and to stop criminals from doing wrong and profiting from it. He began respectably, but the woman he loved had been mowed down by a gangster's machine gun, and the police arrested him rather than going after the real criminals.
The Crook is tough and quick, although he relies on his wits, guile, and skill (he’s the world’s best safecracker, for one, the “man who can open anything”) far more than his abilities at violence. He does not carry a gun, although he could certainly use one; his world is a rough one, with vicious, betrayal-happy criminals and corrupt police. Jenkins does have one sizable advantage, however: the friendship of Soo Hoo Duck, the "undisputed dictator of all Chinese activities on the Pacific Coast." Any spot in Chinatown is safe for the Phantom Crook, and any Chinese-American the Crook's friend, as long as he drops Soo Hoo Duck's name.
The Crook meets and falls in love with Miss Helen Chadwick, and they eventually marry, although he has some reservations about her exalted social class and his own, correspondingly low one. (She later dies saving his life) He is a master of disguise and carries with him a walking stick which contains a burglar’s kit and a blade. Bobo is a large, blond dog of unknown breed, and is much more intelligent than the average dog; he is able to track and watch people and communicate what he sees, in his own fashion, to Jenkins, who is very proud and fond of Bobo. Jenkins is small and wiry, but not unhandsome, with curly brown hair.
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