In “The Hand of the Black Goddess,” a seemingly ordinary setting is thrust into a web of danger and mystery as Kirby, a private investigator, encounters a series of cryptic and menacing events. Starting with a puzzling warning from a dark, imposing stranger, Kirby’s world spirals into a treacherous adventure involving a dead body in his office and a deepening international intrigue.

Featuring the private detectives Butch Gorman and Brent Kirby. 

Received by Howard’s agent, Otis Adelbert Kline, on January the 29th of 1934, this is the first of two stories featuring detective duo Brent Kirby and Butch Gorman. The second, SONS OF HATE, was received on the 10th of March. Neither sold and Howard stopped using these characters. It is interesting to note that Steve Harrison was the main detective used by Howard since LORD OF THE DEAD, the story in which he first appeared. The last one Howard wrote was a direct sequel, NAMES IN THE BLACK BOOK, received by his agent about two weeks before the Kirby and Gorman tale. Howard was then done with Harrison for a long while until he brought him back for a last shot in GRAVEYARD RATS almost two years later.

Cross Plains Library has an original draft of this story. 


The story unfolds as Kirby encounters a mysterious, imposing man of Oriental appearance in the hallway of his office building. This man cryptically warns Kirby against interfering in matters that do not concern him and hints at a sinister object left in his office. Kirby discovers a dead man in his office shortly afterward, initiating a complex tale of mystery and danger.

The dead man is identified as William Harper, leading to Kirby’s involvement with Gloria Corwell, who reveals a perilous situation at her uncle Richard Corwell’s manor, besieged by a group of menacing, foreign men after a man named Farnum. Farnum, a rogue adventurer, had returned from India with a secret treasure, drawing the wrath of a dangerous cult.

Kirby, Gloria, and Kirby’s partner Gorman end up at Corwell Manor, where they face continuous threats from the cult, identified as the Thugs, devotees of the goddess Kali. The situation escalates as they try to protect the manor against these relentless attackers who are intent on retrieving the treasure Farnum stole.

In a dramatic confrontation, Farnum reveals that the treasure includes the legendary jewels of Akbar, hidden under an old temple in India. He confesses to murdering a man to escape with the jewels, leading to a fallout with his former partner Ditta Ram, a disreputable Brahman leading the Thugs.

The narrative climaxes in a violent showdown at the manor, where Kirby, Gorman, and the Corwells defend themselves against a night-time assault by the Thugs. The situation seems hopeless until the arrival of the Sons of Akbar, another group also interested in the jewels, who intervene to resolve the conflict.

The story concludes with the Sons of Akbar reclaiming the jewels and departing, leaving Kirby and his companions to recover from the harrowing ordeal. The peace is restored, but the shadows of the night’s events linger, leaving a deep impact on all involved.


  • Brent Kirby: A private investigator who becomes embroiled in the mystery after a warning from a mysterious stranger and discovering a dead body in his office.
  • Gloria Corwell: Niece to Richard Corwell, she seeks Kirby’s help to save her uncle’s manor from besieging foreign assailants.
  • Richard Corwell: Gloria’s uncle, who gets entangled in danger due to harboring Farnum and his stolen treasure.
  • Farnum: A rogue adventurer who found and stole the jewels of Akbar, leading to his pursuit by the Thugs.
  • Ditta Ram: The former partner of Farnum turned enemy, leading the Thugs to recover the stolen jewels and enact vengeance.
  • Gorman: Kirby’s partner at the detective agency, who plays a crucial role in defending the manor and resolving the conflict.
  • The Thugs: Devotees of the goddess Kali, led by Ditta Ram, determined to retrieve the stolen jewels and kill anyone involved in their theft.
  • The Sons of Akbar: Guardians of the treasure who intervene to stop the violence and reclaim the stolen jewels.

Alternate title:


Published in: