WILLIAM E. BARRETT “The Tattooed Cop.”  Novelette. Needle Mike. First published in Dime Detective Magazine, February 1936. Collected in The Complete Cases of Needle Mike, Volume 2 (Steeger Books, November 2022).

INTRO. This is the second story in this issue of Dime Detective that I covered in it entirety in my column “Speaking of Pulp” in the April/May/June, 1979 issue of The Not So Private Eye. To answer the question I brought up in the first paragraph, the answer is Yes.
   Let’s go on, I’ve never been sure if William E. Barrett, author of the “Needle Mike” stories is the same person who later wrote such bestsellers in the 50s as The Left Hand of God, but it could be. After all, if MacKinley Kantor could go on to better things from [beginning in]  the pulps, so perhaps could a few others.

   But who’s Needle Mike, you may be saying. He’s actually the son of a millionaire, and he relieves the monotony of his existence by posing as the disheveled operator of a run-down tattoo parlor on the wrong side of the St. Louis tracks. He appeared in a long series of stories in Dime Detective during the middle 30s, and this one’s about “The Tattooed Cop.”

   In it, the identification of a dead cop with a tattoo on his chest gets Mike (or Ken McNally) into deep trouble with a tough gang of marijuana peddlers who prey on gullible college boys and girls looking for a cheap thrill. It reads pretty well — an interesting premise, that you’ve got to admit —  up until the moment Mike gets a mammoth hunch about a doped-up weed addict he finds in an upstairs room in the gang’s hideout. He’s right, of course, and the story becomes little more than confused action from that point on.