GORDON E. WARNKE “Whispering Monk.” The Whispering Monk #1. Short story. Published in All Detective Magazine, June 1934. Never reprinted.

   This is the first appearance of The Whispering Monk as a hero pulp character, and the last. In fact it is the only [crime fiction] story that the author, Gordon E. Warnke, ever had published, and the only way you’re going to be able to read it is by finding a copy of the right issue of All Detective Magazine, which is as usual with these old magazines, is not going to be an easy job to do. (See also comment #3.)

   The Whispering Monk, a terrifying nemesis to hoodlums and gangsters alike, is in reality Dick Steele, a former police detective whose father, also a detective, was murdered by a criminal gang that Steele believes is operating with police protection. He takes on the guise of the hooded Whispering Monk to bring the gang down by means of his own vigilante justice.

   As it turns out, however, by means of clever disguising techniques, for most of the story he takes on the identity of Johnny the Dip, a barfly who is able to overhear the conversations of gang members in bars as he sprawls drunkenly at nearby tables.

   Only one person, William Dugan, a captain of detectives, knows about Steele’s alter egos, and is the only man he trusts with that information. The story is short — it’s only nine pages long — so to do what he has to do with so little room to work, Steele’s only resource is to get the gang members fighting against each other.

   You may be surprised to hear me say that the story is not badly written — there’s simply just not enough of it — and the setup shows some imagination, at least. This overlooks the unfortunate fact, however, that The Whispering Monk appears in person in only a few paragraphs on the last page. More of him in action, instead as Johnny the Dip, would seem to be a reasonable request, and why that particular moniker, anyway?