Friday, November 20, 2015

An Oppenheim Trio

"The Ninety-ninth Thread."
By E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, April 30, 1927.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online starting HERE and concluding HERE (scroll to page 40).
"Angus proves himself a detective who won't take 'Guilty' for an answer . . ."
Coulson was a killer, but was he also a murderer? From the evidence, The Honorable George Angus isn't sure:
. . . "He was a mild little inoffensive accountant's clerk, saving money every week, wonderful at his job, thought the world of by his employers—they paid for his defense, by the bye—a man whom all his neighbors liked, although the men called him rather a milksop, and he lay there, just come back from the border-land between life and death, and in perfect sincerity he told me that the only regret he had was that he hadn't been able to kill the woman with whom he'd been living for eleven years!"  . . .
Things get even more doubtful when his ex-wife and her new lover turn up dead:
. . .  "Let me get this right! You killed the woman's first lover. You went to prison. You threatened to kill her when you came out, and anyone she might be with. You've hung around their flat. You were seen to enter it last night. They are both shot dead. Your revolver is lying on the floor. You were seen to leave the flat. What chance, I ask you, has anyone got to do anything for you?"
"There must be a chance somewhere," Coulson insisted, "because I did not kill them."  . . .
Only a soiled and all but forgotten envelope will resolve matters.
"The Happy Ending."
(a.k.a. "The Disappearance of William King").
By E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, May 7, 1927.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online commencing HERE and finishing HERE (scroll to page 44).
"Look here," he said, "I'm not a detective. I'm not connected with the law. I'm an ordinary human being, and I've been piecing your story together on my way down here. I'd like you to tell it to me."
Who or what could cause William King, an exemplar of the community, to do this?
. . . "There was never a shadow of scandal or a suggestion of loose living connected with him. His employers valued his services highly. He had appar-ently not an enemy in the world. Yet on one Friday, about two months ago, he slipped out of the world. He failed to return home at the usual hour and has never been seen or heard of since."  . . .
As mysterious in its way as the case of James Phillimore yet unlike that unsolved conundrum, thanks to some persistent sleuthing on Angus's part exactly why and 
where William King disappeared to—a watery grave and an earthly paradise—will 
become abundantly clear.

"The Actor's Romance."
(a.k.a. "Kenmar's Golden Day").
By E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, June 4, 1927.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online starting HERE and finishing HERE (scroll to page 38).
"And all these eight years, Angus, she has lived in peril of her life. Some day or other the end will come. Perhaps no one will ever hear of it."
For Sir James Kenmar, a well-known and -respected actor-manager, life has become so stultifying that when his chance at true love comes he fights for it; Angus could never have imagined that he would also be fighting for the same thing—in his own way:
. . . Saunders turned around to meet Angus' fist in his face. Exactly as the latter had calculated, with the first sting of pain, he saw red and forgot everything else for the next few moments. There was a scream of delight from the newspaper boys and loiterers of that ilk.  . . .
The case of James Kenmar proves how right The Bard was: "To be wise and love exceeds man's might."

Resources:
- Other info about our author is HERE (A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection) and HERE (GAD Wiki).
- Angus explains why he has become a private detective: "I and a friend of mine have started in business—just from the love of it—as sort of amateur investigators into crime and disappearances and all that kind of thing." Altogether Oppenheim produced at least ten adventures with The Honorable George Vincent Angus and his partner Peter Bragg, all of them appearing in Collier's and being collected as The Exploits of Pudgy Pete & Co. in 1928, reproduced in Roy Glashan's Library HERE.

The bottom line: "Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."
— Albert Einstein

2 comments:

  1. I'm quite fond of Oppenheim's spy fiction but I haven't sampled any of his detective stories. I guess I should start now!

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    Replies
    1. Just don't expect too much. Some Encyclopedia Brown stories have more sophisticated detection, but it's Oppenheim's pleasurable writing skills that carry the day.

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