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Jack Ritchie
An Appreciation and Bibliography

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Cardula: The Vampire Sleuth

One of Jack Ritchie's finest comic creations is the character Cardula, a private detective who appeared in nine stories published between 1976 and 1983. The amusing premise behind this sequence of stories is that Cardula (an anagram of Dracula), who is a vampire, has been forced to leave his home country of Romania after being thrown out of his castle by communists. After arriving in the United States, he integrates himself into Western society.

In "Kid Cardula" (1976), the first story in the series, we see him joining a local boxing gym in the hope of making his living as a competitive boxer. His superhuman strength enables him to impress the gym owner into taking him on. What follows is a very funny story detailing Cardula's career as a professional boxer. There are a number of comic situations involving Cardula's supernatural qualities, such as his inability to meet up with his trainer during the day, or a heart-stopping moment in the ring when a competitior crosses himself just before a fight begins, giving Cardula a definite sense of cold feet!

It's worth noting that the later Cardula stories are somewhat similar in theme and structure to those stories featuring Ritchie's other major series detective, Henry Turnbuckle. The detective work carried out by Cardula is very Turnbuckle-esque at times and the way in which each mystery unfolds is also very reminscent of Henry Turnbuckle's adventures.

The Cardula stories showcase some of Jack Ritchie's finest writing. It is evident from reading these tales that Ritchie was at the height of his literary powers when he wrote them, utilising all his experience as a writer. The dialogue is wonderfully witty and the plots are well worked and utterly compelling. This is top-drawer material by Ritchie, which any fan of this writer will surely love. Perhaps one day these nine stories will be collected into one volume. Let us hope so!

Richard Simms,
September 2005

A Checklist of the Cardula Stories:

  • "Kid Cardula", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 1976
  • "The Cardula Detective Agency", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 1977
  • "The Canvas Caper", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, August 1977
  • "Cardula to the Rescue", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, December 1977
  • "Cardula and the Kleptomaniac", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 1978
  • "Cardula's Revenge", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 1978
  • "The Return of Cardula", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, February 1982
  • "Cardula and the Locked Rooms", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, 31st March 1982
  • "Cardula and the Briefcase", Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine, June 1983

 

Copyright 2002 - 2016 Richard Simms