Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Gray Seal

Frank L. Packard was an early 20th century writer of thrillers. I discovered several of his Jimmie Dale books on the shelves of an uncle while in my early teens. As was then my habit I prevailed on him to let me borrow them [I later possessed several of those titles, perhaps feloniously, I don't recall]. The Packard books I read were all from the six Jimmie Dale's written between 1917 [The Adventures of Jimmie Dale] and 1935. A description of the series:
Dale, also known as the "Gray Seal" for the stickers he left as calling cards, is a wealthy New York society St. James club-crawler figure by day, and an expert safecracker by night. He is often blamed for crimes he didn't commit. At his halfway house, "Sanctuary", he can surreptitiously change from one identity to the next. He's a suave and sophisticated cat burglar working to expose the corrupt and seedy underbelly of New York. In the detective romance Phantom Clue the mysterious unseen woman "Tocsin" blackmails the gentleman thief Dale, luring him into the dark underworld of the city, only to be hounded by the police. He haplessly falls in love with the siren but ultimately exposes the evil-doers. ....

Packard's books are deemed a critical bridge between late 1800s Victorian era style writings and the newer grittier Rogue school of the 1930s and 1940s. His city of New York is immoral and dirty with evil-smelling tenements, the back alleys the haunts of dope fiends, thieves and murderers. Jimmie Dale's life work and passion was to clean it up, usually with a happy ending. ....
I found them fascinating when I was twelve, and now I find I can re-experience them as e-books. I suspect I won't have quite the same experience reading them this time. The first two of the Jimmie Dale's are available as e-book downloads at ManyBooks: Free ebooks by Frank L. Packard

Frank L. Packard - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss., Free ebooks by Frank L. Packard