Back in 1936, an obscure New Orleans pulp writer named Lars Anderson created a remarkable character for an even more obscure girlie magazine, Saucy Romantic Adventures. She is the slinky sleuth celebrated today as one of the rare pioneering pulp heroines of the Great Depression, the Domino Lady!
Clad in a shimmering evening gown, a black domino mask offsetting her golden blonde hair, daring socialite Ellen Patrick takes the trail to crime, motivated by the murder of her father, District Attorney Owen Patrick. Since the Hollywood beauty suspects that a powerful state political machine was responsible for her father’s assassination, she targets high-society crime exclusively, hoping to bag a big shot. In the tradition of pulp heroes of that era, she left behind her calling card, which read Compliments of the Domino Lady. That famous masked protector of Old California, Zorro, would have recognized her M. O. instantly.
Ellen packed an automatic, a hypodermic loaded with knockout serum, and her feminine wiles as she plunges into the social webs of extortion and murder, often teaming up with up-and-coming private investigator Roge McKane, more frequently tangling with suave big-game hunter turned blackmailer, Rob Wyatt, who is her recurring Nemesis. Or is it the other way around?
The self-described “young avenger” appeared in every issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures until it folded with the October, 1936 issue, popping up in Hollywood, San Francisco, and on the high seas, in her pursuit of swift justice. A month later, glorified by a stunning Norman Saunders cover, she made her final bow in “The Domino Lady Double,” for the November, 1936 Mystery Adventure Magazine, where she matches wits with an equally gorgeous impostor.
The Domino Lady faded from the pulp scene, but was not forgotten. Fondly remembered by fans of the genre, she has been revived in new stories for a new century. And how she appears in her first audiobook.
Read by Nick Santa Maria.