Friday, December 6, 2013

Pandora's Bandbox

By Louis Joseph Vance (1879-1933).
Little, Brown & Co.
1912. $1.25

Vance is most famous for his Lone Wolf series.

Three critics of the day seemed to like this one. Complete reviews follow:
Double-dyed mysteries, one after another, one mystery dovetailing into the other like a Chinese puzzle until the reader is tempted to skip whole pages, knowing that by doing so he may get a clue, even though he is sure to miss a few extra mysteries, for there is one on every page—that is the sort of impression 'The Bandbox', by Mr. Louis Joseph Vance, may leave upon the conscientious reader.
For those who love mystery Mr. Vance's book will be a delight from first to last.
A bandbox may seem a commonplace thing, but when there are two of them and one contains a diamond necklace, and when the box with the necklace is always getting mixed up with the box without one, when they are shipped over seas with detectives and thieves by the dozen trailing after them, and when murder and sudden death occur wherever one or both those bandboxes turn up, it will be seen that they are more interesting than the most wonderful Paris bonnet could make them.
Naturally there is a love theme involved, and the beautiful Alison Landis, who owned one of the bandboxes, had some sentiment in her. But what the reader gets is not romance, it is mystery. There is no time for much else. — Philip G. Hubert, Jr., "A Budget of Novels," THE BOOKMAN (May 1912; scroll to page 319)
True to his traditional habit, Mr. Vance has given us another alliterative title. All the same the tale bristles with breathless adventure, mistaken identities, detective investigations, and startling situations.
The scenes are laid in London, New York, and the ocean liner plying between those two ports.
It is a rousing story, told with a stimulating style and culminating in love rewarded, but, before that happy end is reached, there are many thrilling revelations.
Twin bandboxes, twin heroes—one of them a villain of the deepest dye—a designing actress, and a sweet and lovable young lady—all act at cross-purposes and involve themselves in a network of suspicious circumstances, entertaining if not edifying. — Unsigned, THE LITERARY DIGEST (May 4, 1912; Jump To page 951)
Ordinarily a band-box is not an inspiring object; but when it is French and florid, and contains a hat which in turn conceals an unsuspected pearl necklace belonging to a beautiful smuggler-actress, our interest quickens. That is the kind of box Louis Joseph Vance tells about in "The Band-Box". 
From Paris to London, thence to New York, goes the band-box, accompanied and pursued by a heterogeneous and hasty group of people—a playwright who is engaged to the smuggler-actress, another actress, a thief and his double (who fortunately is honest), maids, chauffeurs, and ordinary society women.
The band-box leads them a merry chase, and there isn't a moment to spare anywhere in the book. It's the sort of book one saves for a trip from Boston to New York—to shorten the journey by about two hours. — Unsigned, McCLURE'S MAGAZINE (June 1912; scroll to page 240)
THE BANDBOX is available in several places on the Internet, including HERE and HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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