Saturday, November 2, 2013

"This High-Tensioned Tale of Crime and Retribution"

By Arthur Stringer.
The Century Co.
1913. 302 pages. $1.25

The entire review as it appeared in THE NATION (February 6, 1913), archived at Hathi Trust (HERE):
A better name for this high-tensioned tale of crime and retribution would have been the "Chase."
Mr. Stringer's police hero is precisely not of the type of detective who attains his end by the critique of pure-reason.
This is simply a story of a mad pursuit, in which the game is always within sight of the hound, and the interest consists solely in the mere physical breathlessness of the chase, plus the speculation as to how soon the victim will feel the fangs of the pursuer.
In this mad flight the author has inserted the necessary breathing spaces in the form of dramatic episode. There is a fight in a Macao opium den which is as ruddy a bit of slaughtering as we remember coming across for many a day in fiction.
Gradually as the story advances, the psychological element twines itself into the narrative of train schedules and sudden death, until towards the end Mr. Stringer's Blake, from a common and efficient "bull," changes to something of an elemental force.
The New York policeman ends up as a very distinct likeness to Victor Hugo's Monsieur Javert in "Les Miserables."
Mr. Stringer's style usually presents a rich ornateness which is in piquant contrast to the grisly subject-matter. But in the present instance, and in the early chapters especially, this pretty affectation is carried to a wearying extreme. As the author warms to his own tale the mannerism sloughs off.
The review from THE OUTLOOK (February 8, 1913), archived here (scroll down to page 323, bottom right):
The story of the pursuit of a criminal of extraordinary astuteness. The dogged, brutal, pertinacious New York police official follows false clues and true clues for months and even years.
In China, South America, and our Far West he has adventures of a thrilling kind, and over and over again barely escapes with his life.
Mr. Stringer incidentally gives a graphic account of New York police methods, good and bad.
And the review in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY (November 1913), archived here (scroll down to page 696, top right):
THE SHADOW deserves a paragraph to itself for it is one of those striking stories in which the psychology is as penetrating and accurate as the incident is exciting and varied.
It deals with a man-hunt, lasting for years and leading around the globe, but the most startling thing it shows us is the effect of 'sleuthing' on the soul of the sleuth. What an obsession this becomes, stretching the man on the rack of his long suspense, shaping him utterly to his work until he responds to no other stimulus, Mr. Stringer shows in a manner ill-calculated to recruit the detective service.
THE SHADOW can be found online here. A Wikipedia article about Stringer is here. The UNZ index lists 110 items for Arthur J. Stringer.

Category: Detective fiction

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