Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Mr. MacGrath Writes with Spirit"

You remember Harold, don't you?

By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
1914. 340 pages. $1.25
Filmed in 1916 (IMDb and AFI—the latter has SPOILERS).
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
[Full review] It is something of a relief to turn to a frankly extravagant story of adventure, such as Pidgin Island, by Harold MacGrath.
The island in question lies on the border line between Canada and the United States; and while a good fishing ground, it is a dangerous harbour for a small boat during September gales.
Young Cranford, the hero, is an ardent fisherman, as all the world is free to know; what the world does not know is that he is in the Government secret service for the detection of smugglers, amateur or professional, who attempt to make unlawful entry of foreign jewels into the United States.
What Cranford himself does not know is that Pidgin Island, where he goes when off duty, is a chosen smuggling place of a notorious gang, who have a long standing account to settle with him; and he is equally far from suspecting that Diana Wynne, the clear-eyed, self-reliant young woman with whom he becomes unconventionally acquainted and who can out-row, out-sail and out-fish him, holds the same sort of Government job as himself,—and, what is more, has come to Pidgin Island, not blindly but with her eyes wide open.
If you know Harold MacGrath's methods, you know in advance pretty well the sort of story he can serve up with these elements of adventure and danger and romance. But in any case read the book; you are at least certain not to be bored. — Norman Bryce, "Random Gleanings from Current Novels," THE BOOKMAN (August 1914; go to page 683, left bottom)
A story of fishing and of smuggling. When John Cranford faced the necessity of earning a living, he entered the secret service because it was the only thing that offered, but he learned to hate his work,—he called it a "sneak's business,"—and when it got on his nerves, he went fishing.
But up at the lake resort where he had fished for years, he found that his favorite guide was not at his disposal. Uncle Billy was rowing that season for another fisherman—a girl. And she proved, too, to be as good a fisherman as Cranford himself; and also as clever at catching smugglers: for, as it turns out, she is in the secret service herself, and the two together find a piece of work already cut out for them. — BOOK REVIEW DIGEST (1915)
Elements of 'Pidgin Island' that are good prove that the author has not lost his fundamental art—that of being able to tell an interesting story—but what a pity that he should write so carelessly. — BOSTON TRANSCRIPT (May 13, 1914)
Mr. MacGrath writes with spirit, and will carry with him that large class of readers which asks only to have conjecture held in leash and curiously sustained until the end. — THE NEW YORK TIMES (April 12, 1914)
[AFI film summary] After arresting smuggler Michael Smead, Government Customs Service secret agent John Cranford takes a vacation on Pidgin Island in the Saint Lawrence River. While there, he falls in love with another tourist, Diana Wynne, who is [SPOILER]. Diana, who soon reveals to John that [SPOILER], then discovers that Michael has [SPOILER] and is planning to [SPOILER]. With John's help, she [SPOILER], after which the two secret agents decide to ignore the Customs Service for awhile, and concentrate on [SPOILER]. — AFI
- It was quite recently that we spent some time with Harold HERE.
- AFI has a listing of the 24 films made from MacGrath's stories—with SPOILER summaries—HERE.

Category: Romantic spy fiction


By E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946).
Little, Brown & Co.
1916. 302 pages.
By F[rank] Berkeley Smith (1869-1931).
Doubleday, Page & Co.
1916. 324 pages.
Online HERE and HERE.
[Full review] A talent for thievery amounting to positive genius, an urbane exterior, and the most engaging personal qualities constitute the common equipment of the heroes of two otherwise dissimilar novels.
Mr. Smith's Raveau is a Parisian past-master of dishonest arts who falls in love with an innocent country girl, and thereafter, aspiring to become an honest man, is rewarded for his present efforts and his past expertness by employment in the detective service. Shades of Balzac! For its picturesqueness the story depends largely upon contrasting backgrounds—Montmartre and the village of Tourraine. It contains no element of plot, character, or local color that is not already over-familiar.
Mr. Oppenheim relates the exploits of one who enjoyed the reputation of a thief while remaining an honest man. It was an eccentric Western American who enlivened his sojourn in London by the exercise of this questionable skill, and it was an English gentleman of irreproachable respectability who persisted in liking the jovial adventurer, and making love to his charming and equally adventurous daughter.
The humor of being followed around by a detective and searched every little while, to the discredit of the baffled representative of Scotland Yard, never palled upon Mr. Bundercombe, nor upon his dismayed but admiring Mr. Walmsley.
How long this recurring situation will hold a laugh for the reader will depend upon his individual partiality for that classic figure of fun, the triumphant and benevolent joker of farce-comedy. — "Current Fiction," THE NATION (April 20, 1916)

Other reviews of AN AMIABLE CHARLATAN:
[SPOILERS IN REVIEW: Excerpts] . . . The chief figures, the people they consort with, their victims and their friends, they are all crazy.  . . . To the people who like Mr. Oppenheim's stories, this latest book of his will appeal with undiminished force. There is "something doing" on every page and always something mysterious. — Philip G. Hubert, Jr., "Some Novels: Light and Otherwise," THE BOOKMAN (July 1916)
[Excerpt] . . . It's a fun caper, with some adventure and romance mixed in. Parker is a winsome character and a little reminiscent of Donald Westlake's comic thief, John Dortmunder . . . — B. V. Lawson, IN REFERENCE TO MURDER (March 7, 2014)
[Full review] Another book by Oppenheim that has lost some freshness because a plot device has become a bit threadbare. But the characters are charming, it retains much of its humour, and there is definitely a twist I didn't see coming! A nice, light read. — Abigail, GOODREADS (August 27, 2013)
[Full review] Great funny forgotten book. Worth the read! Each chapter is about the main character's run in with a father daughter team of charlatans. The book has some good twists. — Aimee, GOODREADS (April 24, 2012)
[Full review] A young English aristocrat falls in with a con artist and his lovely daughter. The con artist is a very amusing character and wait until his wife shows up. Recommended. — Karen, GOODREADS (July 8, 2010)
F. Berkeley Smith

Category: Crime fiction (humorous)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"These Stories Are, Altogether, More Amusing Than Intriguing"

This pretty much explains what you're getting into with the following book:
. . . The reader is confronted with even more lost species, including mammoths in the Canadian glaciers, a group of "cave-ladies" in the Everglades, a gigantic worm burrowing beneath the fields of upstate New York, a school of minnows the size of Pullman cars, etc. — ISFDB
By Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933).
D. Appleton & Co.
1915. 292 pages. $1.30
Collection: 6 stories.
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
(1) "The Third Eye" [Hearst's Magazine, February 1915]
(2) "The Immortal" [Hearst's Magazine, August 1915]
(3) "The Ladies of the Lake" [Hearst's Magazine, July 1915]
(4) "One Over" [Hearst's Magazine, September 1915]
(5) "Un Peu d'Amour" [Hearst's Magazine, June 1915]
(6) "The Eggs of the Silver Moon" [Hearst's Magazine, March 1915]
[Full review] The series of extravaganzas that make up the latest volume by Mr. Robert Chambers, with its scarehead title of Police!!!, and its quite unashamed bathing-suit lady on the cover, leaves the impression that the author is sardonically laughing at his characters, his readers and the world at large.
The time was when Mr. Chambers had a peculiar gift for the uncanny; he could send little furtive creeps all the way up your spine and down again; he could distil virgin gold into loathsome, slimy, creeping shapes that would haunt you with the persistence of a delirium; or he could at will convey the charm of elusive, elfin shapes, airy, butterfly beings bridging the chasm of the unknown.
All this he has apparently lost. Whatever he purposed doing in relating the mythical adventures of Professor Smith, of the Bronx Zoological Park, one thing is certain: that they miss fire. He may have meant them as horror stories, but they fail to horrify; he may have meant merely to mystify, but the mystery is ineffective; or perhaps his ambition did not extend beyond farce comedy, but if so, it is too heavy-handed to be really amusing.
Take, for instance, "The Ladies of the Lake": two professors, masquerading as guides, escort an Amazonian band of elderly suffragettes into the wilds of Alaska, and there discover a small lake five miles deep, whose unfathomed waters contain a hitherto undiscovered species of minnow the size of a sperm whale. These giant fish have a habit of rising to the surface at nightfall and leaping high in the air, with a roar like Niagara, to feed on the myriads of bats that flit above the water. Well, one evening when the suffragettes indiscreetly venture out for a row at twilight, a playful flap of a giant tail sends the boat skyward and the ladies [SPOILER]. The whole thing is too overdrawn to hold you; it isn't convincing, it isn't creepy, it isn't even funny.
"Un Peu d'Amour" comes a little nearer to being a success in its own line. The professor discovers, in some remote, unspecified locality, a wonderful crater from which fumes constantly rise; and when he cautiously creeps down the inner slope, he sees that the fumes arise from a ring of flame, half-way down, and that below the ring the bottom of the crater is smooth and sandy, without smoke or fire. Moreover, in the flames, scores of little ferret-like creatures disport themselves, in salamander fashion, and when he succeeds in catching one with his naked hand, he finds it cold, with a glacial coldness that numbs his body. It is all quite elfish and fanciful, and leads you to the point of wishing it might be true,—and then suddenly Mr. Chambers rudely awakens you by weaving in a monstrous yarn about a [SPOILER], that sets the hills and valleys rocking as it [SPOILER], burying [SPOILER] under a vast cataclysm. Like all the other stories in the volume, it leaves you with an exasperated sense of having been hoaxed. — Frederic Taber Cooper, "Some Novels of the Month," THE BOOKMAN (January 1916; go to page 602, right bottom)
Disappointing one-joke collection from the master who wrote The King in Yellow. Low levels of imagination and uninspired style, along with sub-sitcom levels of joke predictability sink the thing deep. — David Hambling, GOODREADS (February 10, 2014)
This final fantastical outing by horror great Chambers is amusing, but pale compared to his earlier works. Nestled in-between his once-popular parlor romances, 'Police!' continues the fantastical stories of Dr. Percy, ever searching the world for zoological discoveries and love, and doomed never to find either. Chambers apes Twain more than Bierce in these comical tales, and while he hits some high points, these stories are, altogether, more amusing than intriguing. — Keely, GOODREADS (February 28, 2011)
- More information about Robert W. Chambers is HERE and HERE.

Categories: Science fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Humor

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Conclusion Is of the Sudden, Unexpected Sort That Is the Bane of the Honest Reader of Detective Yarns"

Arthur Somers Roche is usually remembered these days by movie buffs as the author of the novel that served as the basis for the William Powell/Ginger Rogers film Star of Midnight (1935) (see HERE and HERE). Quite a few of his stories were made into films.

Two critics read the same book and yet come to diametrically opposite conclusions:

By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
The Bobbs-Merrill Co.
1916. 320 pages. $1.25 (+ 12 cents postage)
Online HERE and HERE.
First serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, May-June 1916.
Filmed in 1917 as The Gray Ghost (IMDb).
[Full review] A popular magazine recently finished serially this story which combines the elements of mystery, romance, adventure, melodrama, and the lure of detective skill most cleverly.
That a story wildly exciting to the point of incredibility should absorb the reader without exciting adverse criticism speaks well for the skill of the writer. He has certainly worked out the intricacies of his plot with its wealth of details skilfully.
Slightly reminiscent of "The Master Mind" in that one personality conceives and directs all the exciting incidents of crimes and dramatic occurrences, he makes all coherent. The love element is convincing.
Wade Hildreth came to America to attend a business meeting for his rich client, Brenner Carlow, also to carry a $2,000,000 necklace back to London, but "The Gray Ghost" had heard of the jewels and proceeded to make other plans for the disposition of Hildreth and the necklace—plans which alternately failed and succeeded because of the interference of many absorbing characters in whom we become interested.
Morn Light, a beautiful young actress, is inexplicably involved in all these plots and counterplots.
Excitement is never lacking until Morn and Wade—but what's the use of spoiling a good story? It is a thrilling detective story. — "Some of the Latest Autumn Fiction," THE LITERARY DIGEST (November 18, 1916; go to page 1341, middle)
[Full review] Mr. Roche begins well and ends ill. An English lawyer is sent by an American money-king from London over to New York to fetch a diamond necklace worth a trifle of two million dollars, and to represent him in some railway deal.
The lord of the criminal world in New York learns of the errand, and our lawyer finds himself the object of mysterious plots and happenings.
The reader expects a good treat in the contest of wits between the lawyer and the crime-king, but instead of that the Englishman is kidnapped out of the story, and a young and rather featureless detective is brought in.
A perfectly extravagant account of looting the great jewelry house which has the necklace in safe-keeping gives the story its name.
The conclusion is of the sudden, unexpected sort that is the bane of the honest reader of detective yarns. It is a pity that the author let a good plot slip through his fingers. — "Current Fiction," THE NATION (November 23, 1916)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
The Bobbs-Merrill Co.
1917. 322 pages.
Online HERE.
Play version: The Scrap of Paper (1917; 40 performances); film version: Living Lies (1922) (IMDb).
[Full review] A detective story, extremely clever in its tracing of the adventures which befall a scrap of paper signed by three multi-millionaires which blows out of the window.
It is instantly picked up by an audacious master-crook who sees a chance for blackmail of a million dollars, but is arrested fifteen minutes later after he has slipped the paper into the overcoat pocket of an office clerk.
The end of the story is bombastic and absurd in its account of the instant conversion of Masterman, the unprincipled millionaire, to noble citizenship. — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (April 18, 1917)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
George H. Doran Co.
1919. 322 pages.
Online HERE.
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
The Macmillan Co.
1925. 321 pages. $2.00
[Full review] A detective story, staged among the fashionable and rich pleasure-seekers at Palm Beach. The plot of the murder mystery makes one guess half a dozen solutions, no one of which contains the truth. A Scripture-quoting evangelist detective is a novelty—also a bore. — "Current Books," THE OUTLOOK (July 22, 1925)
[Full review] The reviewer whose literary taste is superior to the standard maintained by the current popular periodicals must be of an unusually generous nature not to pronounce "The Pleasure Buyers" a stupid book. Mr. Roche's latest concoction is a murder mystery story intended to entertain the host of readers of "summer fiction." The scene is in Palm Beach, the winter home of "the pleasure buyers."
Crude in construction, careless in style, platitudinous in its moralizing, this book is without literary life. — "The New Books," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (August 15, 1925; go to page 52, left bottom)
[Full review] Palm Beach society doings make the envious reader almost forget the murder mystery. — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (October 1925; go to page 203, right middle)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
Century Co.
1929. 337 pages. $2.00
First serialized in Collier's Weekly, February-May 1928: PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14.
[Full review] A TALE of the New York underworld in which a gambler of good family reforms in order to protect a charming nouveau-riche girl against an unscrupulous gigolo. Full of thrills, with a careful observance of detail. — "Notes on New Books," THE BOOKMAN (May 1929)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
Serialized in Cosmopolitan, May-September 1933.
Filmed in 1933 (see HERE and HERE) and remade as Society Lawyer in 1939 (see HERE).
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
Dodd, Mead.
1934. 309 pages. $2.00
Filmed in 1936 (IMDb).
First serialized in Collier's Weekly, March-May 1934: PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12.
Charming Manhattan widow, acquitted of husband's murder, quixotically hires reporter, who swears she's guilty, to clear her name. - Gunmen, chorines, society rotters and other Broadway mobsters career through super-speedy and smoothly-sophisticated tale. - Verdict: Aces. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (September 22, 1934)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
Dodd, Mead.
1935. [?] pages. $2.00
Filmed in 1935 (see HERE and HERE).
First serialized in Collier's Weekly, October-December 1934: PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13.
Killing of Broadway playboy and his valet involves actresses, cops and Mr. Sim Sturdevant who solves crime - Good formula stuff, very suave and well-groomed and with denouement that surprises but doesn't convince. - Verdict: Readable. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (March 16, 1935)
By Arthur Somers Roche (1883-1935).
Dodd, Mead & Co.
1936. 243 pages. $2.00
Posthumous movie tie-in edition.
First serialized in Redbook Magazine, August-December 1934 and January 1935.
See NOAH'S ARCHIVES (December 22, 2013) for more about the movie.
For sale HERE ($500.00 plus $6.50 shipping).
Gossip columnist killed; musical comedy star vanishes. Clay Dalzell, who knows and sees all, fixes everything. - Slick and suave yarn of Metropolitan intrigue and gangsters. Hero a bit too omniscient but action and talk are good. - Verdict: Agreeable. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (February 1, 1936)

Category: Detective fiction

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"A Fairly Entertaining Book"

What we could discover about George Sidney Paternoster isn't much:
. . . married Beatrice Marie——. He was a member of the staff of the Times and the author of a book about the Putomayo atrocities (1913). His eight volumes of fiction are lightweight, even when, as in Gutter Tragedies (1903), he handles the seamy side of criminal life. The Motor Pirate (1903) is about a modern Dick Turpin, and also ends tragically. The Lady of the Blue Motor (1907) takes to the road again, this time for a cosmopolitan romantic adventure. The Great Gift (1909) is about an honest businessman who works his way up to become a cabinet minister. — From THE OXFORD COMPANION TO EDWARDIAN FICTION (quoted at ANSWERS.COM)
(1866-1925) UK author whose Motor Pirate sequence, comprising The Motor Pirate (fixup 1903) and The Cruise of the Conquistador: Being the Further Adventures of the Motor Pirate (fixup 1905), features the exploits of the eponymous masked highwayman (and later pirate), making use of a car of an advanced Technology, and later – in episodes internally identified as being set in the Near Future – in a similarly daunting ship. The magazine in which the series of tales originally appeared has not been identified. — SFE: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION ("Paternoster, G. Sidney")
By G. Sidney Paternoster (1866-1925).
L. C. Page & Co.
1904. 261 pages. $1.50
Online HERE, HERE, and HERE.
[Full review] An ingenious, fantastic tale of a modern pirate who discovers a new motive force, applies it to a piratical automobile, and robs on the highway. A little sense of humor in the book might have saved it from the penny-dreadful class. — "Books of the Week," THE OUTLOOK (July 30, 1904)
[Excerpts] . . . [In] Mr. Paternoster's day-dream . . . he presents us with a modern Dick Turpin who has constructed a peculiar motor car that runs about at a speed of from eighty to one hundred miles an hour, and which enables its owner to practice the approved tricks of a knight of the road with comparative safety to himself.
The description of this extraordinary car is certain to delight and amaze those who through experience have come to have some acquaintance with the eccentricities of motor cars in general.
The only noise that it makes is "a curious humming sound"; it runs without visible vibration and never suffers from punctured tires, overheated engine, defective batteries, or any of the other infirmities that automobiles hitherto known to man have been heir to.
With such an extraordinary invention Mr. Paternoster could not fail to make a fairly entertaining book. — Firmin Dredd, "Nine Books of the Day," THE BOOKMAN (September 1904)
[Full review] It is, of course, permissible for a novel which is frankly a "shocker" to be a little thin in quality. A "shocker" must have one startling idea, which must be developed as nearly in the first chapter as possible, and this The Motor Pirate has.
What the book has not is the power of keeping up this sensation all through the course of the story. And this is where many "shockers" fail, it being obviously easier to invent one sensation than to carry an elaborate trail of excitement from cover to cover.
The first two or three manifestations of the Motor Pirate are interesting; but when his identity is a secret to no one but the hero of the book and the police, matters become a little monotonous for the reader. Also the discovery that the Motor Pirate is [SPOILER] is disillusioning, people who are [SPOILER] being far more interesting than people who are [SPOILER].
Still, there is a good deal of "go" about the story, and we may all of us be thankful not to meet the gentleman who fills the title-role when proceeding along a country lane after darkness has fallen. THE SPECTATOR ARCHIVE (2 January 1904)
By G. Sidney Paternoster (1866-1925).
L. C. Page & Co.
1906. 317 pages. $1.50
Online HERE, HERE, and HERE.
[Full review] It was unfortunately only too obvious that the motor pirate would some day come to life again, and in this book he appears as the owner of a motor boat. Unfortunately, too, although he is vanquished at the end of the story, the reader feels sure that this disappearance is only temporary, and that before long another book will be published about him—probably steering an airship.
People who like the modern "motor" novel, combined with melodramatic adventures, will be amused by the engine being encased in a boat instead of being on wheels. It is, of course, not the aim of a book of this kind to be credible, but the author contrives that his melodrama shall be to a certain extent convincing. — THE SPECTATOR ARCHIVE (3 March 1906)
By G. Sidney Paternoster (1866-1925).
L. C. Page & Co.
1907. 296 pages. $1.50
Online HERE and HERE.
By G. Sidney Paternoster (1866-1925).
Cupples & Leon.
1907. 313 pages.
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Categories: Crime fiction, Science fiction, General fiction

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"A Rising Crescendo of Audacity"

By Arthur Stringer (1874-1950).
The Macmillan Company.
1915. 331 pages. $1.25
Online HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Filmed in 1916 (IMDb).
Let's face it: James Bond is nothing new:
[Full review] This is an exciting series of stories of adventure and crime dealing with the operation of the United States Secret Service. The subject is one that has not been very extensively exploited by writers of plot stories, and Mr. Stringer deals with it in an original way and with dramatic effect. — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (May 26, 1915; go to page 235, right bottom)
[Excerpt] . . . He [Mr. Stringer] knows what is not necessary, to fuss about probabilities. When his hero, by the exercise of the most amazing reasoning powers, and by the most adroit physical arrangements, has brought his victim to the edge of confusion, that sinister person must always be permitted to escape in order that the tale may go on; therefore, the secret agent (with a reputation on two continents) always forgets one obvious precaution. The villain escapes, and the game proceeds. Nor is novelty in detective methods strained for.  . . . — "Current Fiction," THE NATION (May 27, 1915)
[Excerpts] The reason that you can't help liking Mr. Arthur Stringer's detective stories is that there are no half-way measures about him. He is not afraid of exaggeration; he has learned the trick of disarming the invidious charge of impossibility by keeping his dare-devils achieving the impossible all the time, in a rising crescendo of audacity.  . . .
. . . In his latest volume, The Hand of Peril, we are let into the inside history of the world's greatest counterfeiting scheme, to be carried out on a gigantic scale. It is an international scheme, and therefore properly enacted in an international setting, the scene shifting with photoplay abruptness from the Paris boulevards to obscure Sicilian cellars, from ocean liners to New York slums.  . . . — Frederic Taber Cooper, "Some Novels of the Month," THE BOOKMAN (August 1915; go to page 656, right bottom)
- Our last visit with Arthur Stringer was HERE.

Category: Spy fiction

"That Rare Thing, a Detective Tale with an Absolutely New Twist to It"

By Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941).
Doubleday, Page & Co.
1914. 490 pages.
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Filmed in 1919 (IMDb).
Leblanc runs wild with his favorite character:
[Full review] Here is that rare thing, a detective tale with an absolutely new twist to it.
As for the mysterious imprint of teeth which gives the book its spectacular title and cover design, they really figure but little as a clue in solving a mystery, the elusiveness of which lies in the fact that of the four characters present at the first crucial scene, one of them is the victim, the other three are proved conclusively, one by one, to have been innocent, and yet the story does not disobey that first rule of all good detective stories, that the guilty party must be one of the persons first introduced to the reader.
To give anything like a detailed analysis of this complex tangle would be quite outside the purpose of this notice [thank you!].
But the initial situation may be briefly outlined. A much-excited man arrives at police headquarters and announces that he has reason to believe that he and his young son are to be murdered.
Two detectives volunteer to guard him through the night, and keep watch in the hall just outside his bedroom door. They hear no sound, yet in the morning he and his son are both dead, and the safe to which he alone had the combination has been opened and robbed.
And this is merely the introductory episode to a series of rather baffling problems which the author ultimately solves with his characteristic ingenuity. — "Novel Notes," THE BOOKMAN (February 1915)

Category: Detective fiction