Monday, July 14, 2014

"Simply One More Instance of an Author Who Shirks a Technical Difficulty"

Harold MacGrath was an all-purpose writer who would take on just about any genre; as Wikipedia tells us:
. . . MacGrath wrote novels for the mass market about love, adventure, mystery, spies, and the like at an average rate of more than one a year. He would have three more of his books that were among the top ten bestselling books of the year. At the same time, he penned a number of short stories for major American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Red Book magazine. Several of MacGrath's novels were serialized in these magazines and contributing to them was something he would continue to do until his death in 1932.
. . . Harold MacGrath became one of the first nationally-known authors to write directly for the movies . . . [he] had eighteen of his forty novels and three of his short stories made into films plus he wrote the story for another four motion pictures.
The following titles seem to lean towards nominal mystery fiction but, as usual with this author, with lots of romance tossed in:

DEUCES WILD AND OTHER STORIES.
By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
The Bobbs-Merrill Co.
Collection: 14 stories.
1914. 143 pages.
Contents:
(1) "The Woman Across the Street"
(2) "Why Hurry?"
(3) "A Wild Goose Chase"
(4) "A Page from Scheherezade"
(5) "The Florentine Box"
(6) "Crawfor's Luck"
(7) "A Real Detective"
(8) "Mummies"
(9) "Money"
(10) "The Other House"
(11) "A Packet of Old Letters"
(12) "A Friend in Need"
(13) "A Love Story"
(14) "Old Shoes"
A collection of sixteen [?] short stories with a romantic theme. In the first a young illustrator searches for the “perfect” woman to serve as a model for his drawings. He finds her after becoming a helpless witness of a robbery in her apartment by a notorious burglar. To make matters worse all evidence points to his best friend as being the perpetrator of the crime. The solving of the theft also brings the “perfect” woman together with her “perfect” man.
The next three stories reveal that honesty, integrity and quick thinking can walk hand in hand with romance.
Following these are four tales set among the mountaineers of the South telling of how compassion, feuding, tragedy, and betrayal can lead to true love.
The finale is a series of eight interrelated stories about a young teacher fulfilling her dream of becoming a newspaper woman and finding something more important than just success as a reporter. — General eBooks description
[Full review] No batch of half a dozen books of fiction would be complete without a crime and mystery story of some kind, and so Deuces Wild, by Howard McGrath, gives us a lovely girl, stolen pearls as priceless as the girl, true love, a hero who gets into no end of trouble, and a villain who, it is to be hoped, gets into jail. All this in the space of 140 pages. So that things happen on every page, as should be the case in all good mystery stories. — Philip G. Hubert, Jr., "Some Light Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (January 1914go to page 564, right middle)
THE VOICE IN THE FOG.
By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
The Bobbs-Merril Co.
1915. 278 pages.
Online HERE and HERE.
Filmed in 1915 (IMDb).
[SPOILERS IN REVIEW: Excerpts] If you like that special brand of mystery story which achieves diverting comedy by placing eminently worth-while people in false positions and leaves them to flounder there according to their respective natures, then The Voice in the Fog, by Harold MacGrath, is likely to meet your needs.  . . . The explanation [at the end] is unconvincing, and is simply one more instance of an author who shirks a technical difficulty, instead of turning it by some unexpected twist, to his big advantage. — Frederic Taber Cooper, "Some Novels of the Month," THE BOOKMAN (March 1915; go to page 86, left middle)
THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY.
By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
Novelization of Lloyd Lonergan's film scenario.
Grosset & Dunlap.
1915. 298 pages.
Online HERE and HERE.
Filmed as a 23-part serial in 1914 (IMDb).
THE CELLINI PLAQUE.
By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
Doubleday, Page.
1925. 252 pages.
THE BLUE RAJAH MURDER.
By Harold MacGrath (1871-1932).
Crime Club.
1930. 304 pages.
Harold MacGrath's The Blue Rajah Murder (1929-1930) is about a blue diamond named the Blue Rajah; it is not about a Rajah who is blue. The book has an unusual construction. It consists of two long novellas, "Impromptu" and "Presto!", with independent plots, but which deal with the same characters. This means it is essentially a Story Sequence, a familiar form in the mystery and science fiction fields, but a sequence with only two stories, which is much more unusual. The first and much better of the two novellas is a murder mystery, justifying the title, but the second is closer to a pure thriller. The mystery in this first novella "Impromptu" is completely solved by the end of the story, so it can serve as a stand-alone tale.
The protagonist of MacGrath's novella is a young man out to steal the Blue Rajah; and the story falls into the Rogue tradition. As usual in such tales, the theft is committed against an elegant society background, and the hero is a person of great polish and accomplishments. He is so accomplished, in fact, that he is a virtual superman.  . . . — Mike Grost, A GUIDE TO CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTION ("Harold MacGrath")
Category: Romantic mystery fiction

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