The Old Detective's Pupil/The Mysterious Crime of Madison Square (1886)
Street & Smith
John R. Coryell and Ormond G. Smith
Nick Carter, King of Detectives, was based out of an apartment on Madison Avenue in New York City and later out of Manchester. He was the son of detective Sim Carter, who taught him investigation techniques from a young age, and turned him into a fine physical specimine. Nick took on one of his father's cases, disguised as his father, to locate Mabel Livingston, the daughter of a banker. In the course of the investigation, his father was murdered. Nick felt compelled to follow in his father's footsteps.
Soon after his first case, Nick married Ethel Dalton and had a son named Ralph. Ralph was kidnapped by Nick's enemies and and taken to the Asian kingdom of Kurm, forcing Nick to travel half way around the world to save him. Ethel was later murdered in a hit ordered by a jealous Dazaar. It doesn't seem that Nick ever re-married. There are mentions of him having two children, possibly twin sons.
Nick generally kept a low profile and was a master of disguise. In fact, he spent so much time in disguise, only the people closest to him actually knew what he looked like. He used a few standard alternate identities including Detective Harvey Jones, Joshua Juniper and Thomas "Old Thunderbolt" Bolt (a shaggy old country detective).
Nick carried a tool kit and simple disguises with him at all times. He also kept guns up his sleeves, on spring activated devices, in addition to two other revolvers. He rarely drank or smoked, he would never swear, and he was not fond of pretense. Although only 5'4", he was tough and athletic, with at least one early description stating that he could "lift a horse with ease, and that too, while a heavy man is seated in the saddle" and "he can place four packs of playing cards together, and tear them in halves between his thumbs and fingers." He was nicknamed, "The Little Giant."
Nick had considerable resources, starting his own detective school, and owning several houses and a yacht called "The Gull." His mansion on Madison Avenue acted as a headquarters for his detective agency, and was even designed to hold prisoners that Nick wasn't ready to run over to the police. In the early days, Nick and his friends sometimes operated a little outside the law, breaking into places and searching them without a warrant and things of that nature.
Nick tracked down many master criminals, including his arch-enemy Dr. Quartz, Zanoni, The Woman Wizard, Dazaar, The Arch-Fiend, Zigomar and Fantômas. Other enemies included Baroness Latour, Burton Quintard, Dan Derrington, The Danley Brothers, The Bulwer Sisters, Jimmy Duryea, Scylla the Sea Robber and Zanabyah, among many, many others.
"Chick" Carter (Chickering Valentine): Met Nick when he was 14, working as a Nevada ranch hand. Although Nick probably wasn't more than 5-15 years older than him, he adopted Chick as his son. The two resembled each other enough that they frequently posed as one another. In later PD radio serials, Chick was described as a "boy detective" who solved crimes with his friends, Tex and Sue. In the novels, he was Nick's faithful sidekick, along with Patsy. As an adult, he was set to marry Bertha Mortimer, but she met a violent end at the hands of Zelma, The Female Fiend. Later, he married Leila Loring, who Nick suspected of being a criminal. Chick and Leila had a son named Trimble "Trim" Carter, who was a student in the Nick Carter Detective School. Chick had a sister named Cora Chickering. Supposedly, Chick edited New Nick Carter Weekly.
Patrick Murphy/Patsy Garvin: Started as a young Irish bootblack. Started as an informant for Nick, but was later schooled and became Nick's sidekick. Eventually, he married Adelene de Mendoze, a Spanish woman with a sweet face and a firey temper. She proved to be a capable detective in her own right.
Pete: Nick's old, but reliable butler.
Danny Maloney: Nick's chaufffer.
Ida Jones: An expert detective who assisted Nick. She was described as a brilliant schoolgirl, and the greatest female detective in the country. Her look-alike cousin, Rita, is a criminal.
Nellie Carter: A cousin of Nick Carter, who briefly joined his agency.
Warwick "Wick" Carter: A cousin of Nick Carter, who briefly joined his agency.
Ten-Ichi: Son of the Mikado of Japan who came to the United States to study criminology. He is a master of disguise, and an expert in jiu-jitsu. He brought a few artifacts from Japan with him including a potent sleeping powder called "polpa." He speaks perfect English and marries June Lamartaine, a French woman, who saved his life once. [First Appearance: Nick Carter Weekly #327, April 4, 1903]
Ah Toon: A private bodyguard and royal detective to the Emperor of China. [First Appearance: Nick Carter Weekly #168, March 17, 1900]
Jack Burton: The top student at Nick Carter's Detective School. Jack had been raised in New York City. He was stong, daring and selfless, and he eventually developed a relationship with Roxy.
Roxy, The Flower Girl: A girl who joined Nick Carter's Detective School at about 15 years of age, after meeting Jack Burton. She was smart, honest and the equal of any two boys at the school. She had training in a variety of circus skills and she supported a drunken uncle. She tracked down a criminal who had scared her face with a riding whip. "She was exceptionally neat in her dress, patched and skimped though it was, and her bright, saucy face showed that hard knocks with the world had made a keen little business woman of her." [First Appearance: Nick Carter's Girl Detective #1, Flower Girl in a Hornet's Nest, 1898]
Bob Ferret: The youngest student at Nick Carter's Detective School.
Buff Hutchinson: A student at Nick Carter's Detective School.
Jack Wise: One of Nick's young assistants. [Nick Carter's New Assistant, or, Jack Wise's Hurry Call or Nick Carter Youngest Assistant gets busy] (1912)
Yvonne, the Countess of Tierney: An adventuress.
Demetrius Rackapolo: A Turkish secret service agent.
Talika, the Geisha Girl: A Japanese detective.
M. Gereaux: The "acting chief of the Paris secret police."
Conroy "Con" Connors: A Secret Service Agent.
Chick Wilson (aka Nipper): Another of Nick's assistants.
Cora Tempest: Nick's attractive neighbor. She briefly dated Nick after Ethel died. She was kidnapped by Dazaar.
Carma: The princess of a lost civilization in the Andes that Nick falls in love with and takes back to New York. She was blonde, attractive and a highly skilled warrior. [First Appearance: New Nick Carter Weekly #529, 1907]
Pedro, the Dog Detective: A Cuban bloodhound. [First Appearance: New Nick Carter Weekly #469, 1906]
Public Domain Literary Appearances
- The Old Detective’s Pupil; or, The Mysterious Crime of Madison Square (1886)
- Wall Street Haul; Or, A Bold Stroke For A Fortune (1887)
- Fighting Against Millions; Or, The Detective in the Jewel Caves of Kurm (1889)
- Nick Carter Detective Library, No. 1: The Solution of a Remarkable Case (1891)
- Nick Carter Detective Library, No. 2: Nick Carter’s Quick Work Or, A Queen of Counterfeiters (1891)
- The Mystery of St. Agnes' Hospital (1893)
- The Crime of the French Café and Other Stories (1900)
- With Links of Steel (1904)
- The Great Spy System (1907)
- A Woman at Bay (1907)
Copyrighted Golden Age Appearances
- Army and Navy #1-2
- Doc Savage Comics v2 #6-8
- Shadow Comics #1-7,14-15,19-26,28,31-32,34-38,43-101
Nick's first three novels were originally intended to conclude his story. After that, his very long running career can probably be broken up into at least three distinct eras, in which he was nearly three different characters.
- Dime Novel Era, including stories up to about 1927 are mostly public domain.
- The Pulp Era, lasting from about 1933-1955, in which Nick was a more conventional detective with few of the original character's attributes, enemies or supporting cast members. This character was realtively young in a modern world. A few works in this era seem to be public domain, including the radio shows.
- The Killmaster Era from the 1960's on, in which he was a spy, with almost none of the original character's attributes or history. Most of the works in this era are probably under copyright.