Book Review: The Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy

Publisher: The Wellfleet Press

Year: 1990

Pages: 291 

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 1-55521-620-X

Little crimes lead to big crimes.” – Dick Tracy

This is an interesting collection of some of the ‘cases’, or strips, of Dick Tracy. But before you get to them, you are treated to a rather lengthy interview with Chester Gould himself. He opens up about his influences, the genesis of the detective in question, and other works he did.

Next is a two-page introduction by another writer of crime and mystery, Ellery Queen.

But as the cover flaps tell us, it all started back on a Sunday, October 4th, 1931…

As you read Tracy’s first appearance, you’ll notice that his signature appearance and toughness is not yet evident. In fact, as we learn soon enough, he wasn’t even associated with the police at this time! That came a bit later, almost as an afterthought. This is common for fictional characters as the creators often take some time fleshing out their ideas and finding a footing.

Dick Tracy stories were serialized over many daily strips, so it took some time to complete a case with him. And as you would see from reading through this book, not all of the stories lasted the same amount of time.

This book is fun to read and makes a good primer for those who are familiar with the character but not so much with the actual material he appeared in.

The book also gives some informative one-page spreads to highlight the Rogues Gallery and Scientific Arsenal that made Tracy so unique among fictional detectives.

Perhaps the most famous item associated with Dick Tracy is his Video Wrist Watch. Not quite an Apple Watch, but definitely a foreshadowing of things to come!

Back Cover

Disney released a live-action adaption of the character in 1990, the same year this book was released. So the publisher was no doubt hoping to capitalize on the interest generated for the character by the movie. But it kind of flopped, so…

I would give this book 4 out of 5 Stars because I feel it achieves what it sets out to do. It gives an introduction to the character, a glimpse into the mind of Gould himself, and just enough stories to whet your appetite. There are more comprehensive collections of Dick Tracy strips that you can purchase if this book gets you hooked!

I purchased my copy at a Yard Sale for just two bucks, but you will have to pay upwards of $30.00 US to obtain a copy on Amazon or other Book Selling sites.

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