I’ve managed to get hold of Wandrei’s I.V. Frost story “The Lunatic Plague” (August 1936). The writing is workmanlike pulp…

In the smoky haze that passed as atmosphere, the outlines of buildings shimmered. The tall apartment houses lining Riverside Drive seemed outlined in flame against the sun and shaken by tremors of earth. New York was suffering one of the annual heat waves that made seven million people wonder why they’d ever arrived at or stayed in that infernal congestion of dirt, detestable odors, torrid humidity, and air, street, and harbor pollution. Inspector Frick punched the bell under a brass plate, green with verdigris that almost concealed the name: I. V. Frost.

Once I got past a certain stiffness felt on the early pages, it proved enjoyable and fast-paced. In a pre Marvel/DC era it must have seemed a very weird plot to many readers used to more mainstream detective-mystery tales. I’m not a DC-fan, but I’d suggest that one might glimpse in this story the pre-DC origins of The Joker (introduced Spring 1940). And the later re-invented Joker, via the obvious surmise of what might have happened had the villain of this story actually made contact with the asylum… and taken it over.

I noted a few possible links with Lovecraft. Frost talks like Lovecraft…

Frost stated, “Insanity as such is not communicable in the sense that various diseases are. However, some infections result in mental derangement, and the person contracting an infection of that kind could loosely be said to have caught insanity as a secondary product of a primary disease. Mob hysteria, war fever, lynch-gang fury, and other mass demonstrations have been considered proof by several psychologists that mental disorders can be contagious, but other authorities have challenged the conclusions. In meanings rather than words, there has not yet appeared the slightest evidence that lunacy can be epidemic, or that a normal person can catch it from a victim of insanity.”

He walks like Lovecraft…

He hiked off, his long legs carrying him out at a pace that would have meant a brisk trot for the average man.

Wry and detached, he appreciates “cosmic” irony like Lovecraft…

Frost smiled at the host of detectives who thronged around him in the Grand Central Terminal. A beatific expression lighted his features, as with secret, supreme appreciation of some cosmic jest. He drawled, “Life is sometimes inspiredly lunatic.”

He even looks somewhat like Lovecraft…

Frost sat on a stool at one of the tables. With his great height and thinness, his ascetic face in profile against a window, he looked like a specter or the incarnation of a bird of prey.

Not having access to the rest of the stories, I can’t say if there are more such Lovecraft-like characterisation of Frost. But it may be something to look out for, if you get the new $50 Frost complete collection.