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Dick Tracy - The Secret Files
Author Max Allan Collins &

Martin H. Greenberg

Publication date 1990
Published by Tor
ISBN 0-812-51010-0
Publication Order
Preceded by
Followed by

Dick Tracy – The Secret Files is a short story anthology edited by Max Allan Collins and Martin H. Greenberg containing sixteen prose stories about Tracy by famous mystery writers as well as writers primarily known in other literary genres. It was published by Tor Books in 1990, and was timed to appear at approximately the same time that Collins's novelization of the 1990 film appeared in bookstores.

The inspiration for an anthology of short stories by various authors had previously been successful with other characters, including Batman, Philip Marlowe, and Sherlock Holmes.

The contributors to The Secret Files include four winners of the Edgar Award given by the Mystery Writers of America; one winner of, and two finalists for, the Bram Stoker Sward given by the Horror Writers of America; two winners of the Shamus Award given by the Private Eye Writers of America; one winner of the Spur Award given by the Western Writers of America; one winner of the Hugo Award given by the World Science Fiction Convention; and one winner of the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

The stories are arranged in “chronological” order, starting with stories set during the 1930s, the decade in which Tracy was introduced, and continuing through the "present day." Story types ranged from fair-play puzzle/whodunits to fast-action thrillers.While the stories in the collection are inspired by the events of the strip, they are not considered to be in continuity.


The sixteen stories included in this anthology are:

Origins by Mike Resnick

In Depression-era Chicago, a struggling young cartoonist named Chester Gould is having trouble coming up with a saleable idea for a comic strip.But when he gets involved in a police investigation and meets a tough cop named Tracy Richards, he develops an idea for a feature that just might have some staying power.

Dick Tracy and the Syndicate of Death by Henry Slesar

A look at the 1930s newspaper and comic strip business as Tracy investigates a gangland murder, and soon finds that it's connected up to a popular comic strip called Ace Adams – Crime Buster.

Dick Tracy Goes Hollywood by Ron Goulart

Tracy is in 1930's Hollywood, where he's working as the technical advisor on a film about his career, when he gets involved in a murder investigation. The screenwriter for the film is a fresh-faced, bespectacled Midwesterner named "Mac Snollic."

The Cereal Killer by Rex Miller

In the 1940s, an FBI Agent named Dick Tracy is investigating a series of murders. His adopted son, Dick Jr., comes up with the vital clue, which involves poisoned breakfast food.

Special Agent Tracy is, in this story, said to be the inspiration for Gould's comic strip character, and the “The Cereal Killer” seems to be an attempt to reconcile the discrepancies between the strip and the Republic movie serials of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s.

Auld Acquaintance by Terry Lee and Wendi Lee

In the early ‘50’s, Tracy and Tess attend a special New Year’s Eve performance given by the suddenly successful child prodigy C&W superstar, Sparkle Plenty, when the show is invaded by Blowtop Jones.

Comics artist Terry Lee is Collins’s frequent collaborator on projects like the Ms. Tree private eye comic books, and his then-wife, Wendi Lee, a novelist specializing in westerns and her own series about a female private eye.

Rockabilly by F. Paul Wilson

In this story, set circa 1955, a teen-aged Junior involves Tracy in a case involving a newly successful form of popular music called rock ‘n’ roll, and the murder of a rock star named William Cover, a white artist making a fortune re-recording songs originally performed by black singers. Investigating, Tracy finds the musician-turned-killer named Mumbles has returned and is intimately involved in the crime.

The Curse by Ed Gorman

Returning home after a grueling out-of-town case, Tracy is drawn into a shootout that is not what it seems. His assailant has a longer-lasting punishment in mind for Tracy than his mere death- a “curse” that will plague him for the rest of his life.

The Leo's Den Affair by Francis M. Nevins and Josh Pachter

Tracy is involved in the world of fine art when he investigates the theft of a famous painting from a private collection. The owner suspects his former law partner, but there may be more to the case than is readily apparent.

Homefront by Barbara Collins

Told from Tess's point of view, this story tells how she and her youngest child, Joe Tracy, handle being taken hostage by an escaped prisoner-cum-home-invader, the Son of the Brow!

Barbara Collins is married to Max Allan Collins. This story was her first published fiction. Since then she and her husband have collaborated on several novels under the joint pseudonym “Barbara Allan.”

The Paradise Lake Monster by Wayne Dundee

Tracy, on a fishing vacation, is asked by the local sheriff to assist in the investigation of a mysterious death, apparently caused by a legendary local monster, who stalks prey on both land and in water, described by locals as “kind of a water-logged Bigfoot.”

Nordic Blue by Barry N. Malzberg

Tracy and his unit investigate an unusual death. Death by freezing during a summer in which the average temperature is in the high 90's. It's all connected to a particularly potent form of crack called “Nordic Blue,” and to its manufacturer, a lovely but murderous trafficker named Crystal Freezum.

Old Saying by John Lutz

Putty Puss and new partners Maxim and Fin are after lost treasure, but they'll have Tracy and the Major Crimes Unit to contend with before they achieve their goal.

Whirlpool, Sizzle, and the Juice by Ric Meyers

When the lovely Victoria "Vickie" Timm is abducted by a trio of thrill-seeking, bondage-obsessed grotesques, each one named for the ugly facial disfigurements they've all collected during their short, but crime-filled lives, Tracy and his team mount a rescue effort.

Chessboard's Last Gambit by Edward D. Hoch

A master criminal named Chessboard Briggs (so named due to a burn scar on his chest resembling a chess board) is planning a major crime, but the only clue Tracy and his team have to go on is a cryptic note containing nothing except the letters "TTT."

Living Legend by Stephen Mertz

Chief of Detectives Tracy is overseeing a drug investigation carried out by the narcotics detail, but some of the narcs resent the intrusion into their turf by a “living legend” of law enforcement.

Not a Creature Was Stirring by Max Allan Collins

At Christmas time, Tracy is leading an inter-jurisdictional task force trying to apprehend a serial killer preying on children at the most festive, and child-centered, time of year.  But is the killer really a serial killer, or something else altogether?  Is he driven by compulsion, or something far more cold-blooded?