Saturday, September 23, 2017

"The Glorious Crumb of Carbon Is, Of Course, Priceless"

"The Theft of the Kôh-I-Noor."
By Allen Upward (1863-1926).
Serialized in 5 installments in To-Day, November 2-30, 1895.
Short story (16 pages, 10 illos total).

Online at
(Note: Text very faded; use "Zoom In" function to improve clarity.)

NO LESS an eminent personage than the Queen herself discovers the theft of a precious diamond stolen literally out from under her nose, and it falls to Mr. Verriter, a no less
eminent detective, to retrieve it.

Chapter I, November 2, 1895 (HERE) (4 pages, 2 illos): The Queen Makes a Discovery
   "This is not the Kôh-I-Noor! It is a paste imitation!"

Typo: "corriders"

Chapter II, November 9, 1895 (HERE) (3 pages, 2 illos): Sir Henry Ponsonby's Mistake
   ". . . for aught I know the Kôh-I-Noor may be in your pocket at this minute."

Chapter III, November 16, 1895 (HERE) (3 pages, 2 illos): The Clue of the Crumb of Steel
   "That is where the real difficulty of detective work generally lies, in eliciting little points which those who know them do not think important enough to be worth mentioning."
Chapter IV, November 23, 1895 (HERE) (3 pages, 2 illos): What Took Place in the Green Park
   "Will you oblige me by feeling in the left-hand pocket, just to see if it really is there?"
Chapter V, November 30, 1895 (HERE) (3 pages, 2 illos): Mr. Verriter's Reward
   ". . . I am afraid that a bribe of twenty or perhaps fifty thousand pounds would corrupt a good many ladies in even higher stations."
- Our author, Allen Upward (who ended his life as a suicide, unfortunately), is credited with first using the word "scientology"; see Wikipedia (HERE) and The Modernist Journals
Project (HERE) for more.
- Like other Victorian authors, Upward wrote widely in many genres long before they were categorized, including what we now call science fiction; see the SFE (HERE) and the

- To-Day magazine was founded and edited by Jerome K. Jerome of Three Men in a Boat

fame (HERE) until he was forced to turn it over to Barry Pain; the Online Books Page has
a list of available issues (HERE).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"It Would Be Fairly Easy to Imitate One of Them"

"Puzzle in Yellow."
By Randall Garrett (1927-87).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, November 1956.
Reprinted in Amazing Stories, July 1969.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).
"The planet looked ripe for plucking."
Which is easier, breaking out or breaking in? Ghevil found out—the hard way . . .
- It was just last month that we visited with ace pulpster Randall Garrett (HERE).

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Summer 2017. Issue #45.
Editor: Arthur Vidro.
Old-Time Detection Special Interest Group of American Mensa, Ltd.
34 pages (including covers).
Cover image: C. Daly King's Obelists Fly High (1935).

   WE always look forward to the next issue of OLD-TIME DETECTION because not only is there always something about detective fiction in it that's new to us, but also older items
that allow us to indulge our weakness for nostalgia, and this issue is no exception.
   Between its covers you can find: Michael Grost's best picks of the forties and fifties; Dr. John Curran's latest about what's going on in the world of Agatha Christie, including a discussion of an awful film adaptation (1928) of a Harley Quin story; and Martin Edwards's take on his new book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.
   There's an Inspector Mallett short short short story by Cyril Hare that hasn't seen publica-tion for eight decades, enchanced with Tony Medawar's comments; Francis M. Nevins's take on The Leopard Man (1943), a significantly altered filmed version of a Cornell Woolrich novel; and J. Randolph Cox's substantial article about Robert Barnard (1936-2013).
   Finally there's Michael Dirda's review of a book about Fergus Hume's famous The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), the one that, profit-wise, got away from him; Charles Shibuk's list of classic mysteries that deserve reprinting; and thoughtful reviews and commentary from Shibuk, Jon L. Breen, Trudi Harrov, Amnon Kabatchnik, and Arthur Vidro.

Note: We've included some links, indicated by (HERE), to other websites with related information.
(1) The Readers Write:
 ". . . this area of literature [mystery/detective fiction] where action and psychological analysis have replaced plot, mystery, and genuine detection."

(2) Best of Year, by Michael Grost:
 Mike's picks for the years 1949-1956.

(3) Christie Corner, by Dr. John Curran:
 "If you thought that the travestying of literary material was a relatively new phenomenon well . . . think again, as the film was an unrecognizable hodgepodge of nonsense, sacrificing the neatness of Christie's story to a melodramatic scenario of thwarted love, preposterous disguises, and absurd plot developments." — (HERE)

(4) The Paperback Revolution, by Charles Shibuk (1969):
 "The time is lazy, idyllic summer, and the problems are the minor matters of robbery and murder." — (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
(5) New Non-fiction:
 ~ The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, by Martin Edwards:
 ". . . takes the story of classic crime a step further, by exploring the way it changed over the course of fifty years. Along the way, I look at tropes such as 'the locked room mystery,' 'the country house mystery,' 'dying message clues,' and much else besides. I've not confined myself simply to rounding up the usual suspects." — (HERE)

(6) Thirty-Five Years Ago, by Jon L. Breen (1983):
 "Fortunately for their readers, many writers of mystery and detective fiction have had both long lives and long careers. Many of the masters of the twenties and the thirties continued

to produce new books into the seventies." — (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
(7) Fiction:
 ~ "The Return Visit," by Cyril Hare (1940, 4 pages):
 "There's nothing like a little well-directed publicity." — (HERE) and (HERE)

(8) Serendip's Detectives XVII: Mallett's Last Blow, by Tony Medawar:
 "Contrary to the stereotypes of the genre, at least in the Golden Age, [Inspector] Mallett is no fool. Though stolid and solid in appearance, he can fairly be described as one of the smartest police detectives in the whole of crime and mystery fiction." — (HERE)

(9) The Woolrich Films, Part Two, by Francis M. Nevins (1988):
 "The next Woolrich work [Black Alibi, 1942] to be adapted to the screen [as The Leopard Man, 1943] was assigned to a producer and a director whose genius for poetic terror rivaled Woolrich's own." — (HERE) and (HERE)
(10) Looking Backward, by Charles Shibuk (1973, 1977, 1978):
 ~ Murder in the Gilded Cage (1929):
 ". . . no towering edifice of brilliant detection, but it is a competent work . . ." — (HERE)

 ~ The Deadly Homecoming (1972):
 ". . . at its core it is a legitimate problem in deduction . . ."
 ~ He Arrived at Dusk (1933):
 ". . . holds up very well for its years." — (HERE) and (HERE).

 ~ A Matter of Nerves (1950):
 ". . . it's only fair." — (HERE) and (HERE)

(11) Big Feature:
 ~ Robert Barnard, by J. Randolph Cox (2003, 11 pages):
 "Barnard has been called a more sophisticated Agatha Christie; yet, unlike Christie's work, his novels are driven by characterization and satire rather than plot and, consequently, prove satisfying even when the detection itself is weak." — (HERE) and (HERE)

(12) Mega-Review:
 ~ Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and 'The Mystery of the Hansom Cab' (2015), reviewed by Michael Dirda (2016):
 ". . . in this engrossing study [author Lucy] Sussex is less concerned with the merits of Hansom Cab than with its creation, publication, and marketing." — (HERE) and (HERE)

(13) Mini-Reviews:
 ~ Partners in Crime (1929), reviewed by Trudi Harrov:
 ". . . the stories are more character-driven than most of the author's works." — (HERE) and (HERE)

 ~ A Bid for Fortune, or Dr. Nikola's Vendetta (1895), reviewed by Amnon Kabatchnik (1973):
 "His [Guy Boothby's] cornerstone contribution is the creation of Dr. Nikola, probably the first series arch-villain in literature." — (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE)
 ~ Calling All Suspects (1939), reviewed by Charles Shibuk:
 ". . . a fast, easy read . . ." — (HERE)
 ~ Someday the Rabbi Will Leave (1985), reviewed by Arthur Vidro:
 "Kemelman does his usual professional job of blending diverse personalities and interests with a lethal crime and letting the rabbi solve the case." — (HERE)
 ~ Obelists Fly High (1935), reviewed by Arthur Vidro:
 "Compared to the above-mentioned trio [of Christie, Carr, and Queen], [author C. Daly] King's output was slim; but his quality often gave them a run for their money." — (HERE)
and (HERE)
(14) Neglected but Recommended, by Charles Shibuk:
   ". . . these novels are of high merit and are worthy of reprint."

(15) This Issue's Puzzle:
   "Below is a frame from a movie . . . and yes, it ties into old-time detection."

~ ~ ~
Subscription information:
- Published three times a year: spring, summer, and autumn.
- Sample copy: $6.00 in U.S.; $10.00 anywhere else.
- One-year U.S.: $18.00 ($15.00 for Mensans).
- One-year overseas: $40.00 (or 20 pounds sterling or 25 euros).
- Payment: Checks payable to Arthur Vidro, or cash from any nation, or U.S. postage stamps.
Mailing address:
   Arthur Vidro, editor
   Old-Time Detection
   2 Ellery Street
   Claremont, New Hampshire 03743
Web address:

- Our last encounter with OLD-TIME DETECTION was (HERE).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Still Here

JUST A QUICK NOTE to let our regular readers know we're still here, as it's been well over a week since we last posted. Uncertainty about the path of Hurricane Irma and other considera-tions have kept us pretty busy, but we should be back to abnormal soon. Thanks to all of you for sticking with us.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Top 5 in July

Herewith is our belated Top 5 list for July 2017, as well as for most of the previous few years ONTOS has been around. The older the posting the more likely there won't be anything at the end of certain hot links that you'll see there, something we find as deplorable as you no doubt do, but that seems to be the nature of the Internet beast. Sic transit . . .

~ July 2017 ~
(1) Salmagundi—Number Two - (HERE)
(2) "It Was with Something of a Shock That I Found Myself Looking Directly Along the Barrel of a .45 Automatic Pistol" - (HERE)
(3) "It Is the Cleverest Criminal Who Always Makes the Most Striking Blunder" - (HERE)
(4) Miscellaneous Monday—Number Sixteen - (HERE)
(5) "It Is Surprising, Then, That a Scholar of This Type Should Stoop to the Lowly Murder Yarn" - (HERE)

~ July 2014 ~
(1) "These Stories Are, Altogether, More Amusing Than Intriguing" - (HERE)
(2) "Although This Is an Eccentric Book, It Has Plenty of Plus Points" - (HERE)
(3) "Scenery Is Delightful, Writing Good, Sleuth Clever, and Criminal Elusive" - (HERE)
(4) "It Is a Negligible Affair, a Chip in Porridge, an Eloquent Sermon on the Old Text" - (HERE)
(5) "Dogmatic Detectival Pronouncements, Half-wrong and Half-right" - (HERE)

~ July 2015 ~
(1) Two Dozen (Nearly) Detectives All in One Place - (HERE)
(2) SCRIBNER'S Reviews II - (HERE)
(3) "All He Could Say Was That He Hadn't Known Miss Bargain Was Like That" - (HERE)
(4) "Now, If You Attempt to Stop Him, I Swear Before God I'll Shoot You!" - (HERE)
(5) "It Was a Rainy Night, and I Heard a Fog-horn Out in the River" - (HERE)

~ July 2016 ~
(1) The Locked Room Mystery in the Mid-Twentieth Century (with One from the Twenty-first) - (HERE)
(2) "We Both Went Down Onto the Bare Boards of the Stage and Didi Cheri, Still Yelling, Jumped on Top of Both of Us" - (HERE)
(3) "This Here West Coast Publicks a Bunch a Crooks" - (HERE)
(4) "Why Do You Humans Prey on One Another, in This and So Many Other Phases of Life?" - (HERE)
(5) "As He Died—by Accident or Design—or Maybe Just That Bad Luck Which Works Against Every Murderer—He Branded You" - (HERE)

Friday, September 1, 2017

"I Saw It All in a Dream!"

"The Jewelled Dagger."
By E(dward) A. Morphy (1867-?).
First appearance: The Royal Magazine (1914).
Short short story (6 pages, 3 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

Peter Wayland has met the girl of his dreams—"for him at all events, this was the most beautiful creature the world ever saw." If only she hadn't stabbed that other guy . . .
- FictionMags characterizes our author as follows: "Writer, editor of the San Francisco Argonaut. Born in Killarney, Ireland."

The bottom line: "Is this a dagger which I see before me?"

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"There Is Little Art in Crime These Days"

JOSEPHINE UNDERWOOD MUNFORD seems to have been another one of those general fictioneers who dabbled in detective fiction, a genre that requires specialized skills if it's to be done well; unfortunately, Josephine didn't have them. Munford's characterization of her sleuthhound, Hurton Haverley, is fittingly canine: "like a great bloodhound following a scent," "with something akin to four-footed speed," "stopped short, sniffing." Our story, pleasingly concise, shows Haverley's detective skills to good advantage, but the solution is something of a letdown; you could consider "The Gold Beetle" as a near miss. (The FictionMags listing doesn't have this story, unless it was published elsewhere under another title.)

"The Gold Beetle."
By Josephine Underwood Munford (1885-1948).
First appearance: The Royal Magazine (1916).
Short short story (6 pages, 2 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).
(Note: Text faded and smudged in places, and there are a couple of racial epithets.)

"The circumstantial evidence is great, but it is all malignant, diabolical coincidence."
   The distraught wife of a rich banker accused of murdering his pretty Eurasian secretary seeks the aid of Hurton Haverley, well-known detective. Going purely on the situational data, as usual, the police have arrested Edmund Cuthbertson after Kiku Kennedy is found slumped over her employer's desk, stabbed with a hunting-knife and wearing his dinner-jacket.
   Cuthbertson admits there was emotional warmth in his relationship with the victim, but it was all coming from her, and Mrs. Cuthbertson says she believes him. For our sleuth, how-ever, no one is above suspicion, and that includes the accused's wife.
   It'll take some snooping around, but detective Haverley will turn up the true significance of the new olive-green paint around the door facings and a peculiar nailprint therein, the posi-tion of the windows in the study and the street lights outside, the man with a triangular cicatrix on his left cheek, and especially that curiously-wrought ring with "an enormous gold beetle with fantastically carved wings" belonging to Kiku that was taken by Mrs. Cuthbertson from her husband's smoking-jacket just before the police arrived, another piece of circum-stantial evidence that the authorities would no doubt consider as one more nail in Cuthbert-son's coffin . . .

The bottom line: "Oblige me by taking away that knife. I can't look at the point of it. It reminds me of Roman history."
James Joyce

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"You Seem to Take It for Granted That I Murdered My Wife"

ALDOUS HUXLEY will never be famous for his crime fiction, but with "The Gioconda Smile" (1921), published when he was just starting out, he did devise a memorable tale of passivity, passion, and femicide years before Francis Iles; Fred Dannay thought enough of it to do a reprint in EQMM, but by then Huxley was world famous for other things.

"The Gioconda Smile."
By Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).
First appearance: The English Review, August 1921.
Reprints: Hearst’s International, September 1922; Argosy (U.K.), May 1943; and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1950.
Collected in Mortal Coils (1922), Collected Short Stories (1957), and The Gioconda Smile and Other Stories (1984).

Dramatized as Mortal Coils—A Play (1948).
Filmed as A Woman's Vengeance (1948).
Novelette (19 pages as a PDF).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE; two clicks may be necessary) (HTML) and at Online Literature (HERE) (HTML).

"When love dies,"
the song says, "it don't rest in peace." All Mr. Hutton has ever wanted is a quiet life unburdened by strong commitments, a life in which he could indulge his appetite for the finer things and scratch that "vague itch" for the company of women that he just can't resist—being, as he admits to himself, "wanton and imbecile and irresponsible." Caught in a loveless marriage, he chafes at society's conventions and expectations and secretly yearns for release from them—but when that opportunity finally comes, Mr. Hutton will discover that, indeed, love "don't rest in peace," as he finds himself the prime suspect in a murder . . .

Typos: "How often his had heard"; "only the sound of the ram was left"; sloppy punctuation on both websites.

- A renowned intellectual, Aldous Huxley will always be remembered for his dystopian satire Brave New World (1932); an ample article about him is on Wikipedia (HERE).
- In the story Huxley makes references to several real-life individuals: Agrippina (HERE), George Robey (HERE), and George Smith (HERE).

- Huxley had the rare opportunity to work on a film version of "The Gioconda Smile"; see Wikipedia (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE).
The bottom line:

Monday, August 21, 2017

"This Is the Most Perplexing Case That Has Come to My Notice Since I Recovered My Sanity"

SHERLOCK HOLMES must be the most pastiched and parodied fictional character in history, and, starting with the character's inception, more stories having fun with the Sage of Baker Street have been appearing all the time, with no end in sight. (See the amazing Sherlock Holmes Pastiche Characters megasite HERE.)

Unable to resist the temptation to send up Holmes, Augustus Wittfield gave us "The Star Detective of the Pole-to-Pole Railway," Carlock Bjones, and his faithful chronicler Watchem, in three mercifully brief parodies:

  (1) "The Gold Coupler," The Railroad Man’s Magazine, July 1910 (below)
  (2) "The Goat Degree," The Railroad Man’s Magazine, September 1910 (below)
  (3) "The Alcohol Annihilator," The Railroad Man’s Magazine, March 1911 (below).

Wittfeld had several other short-lived series characters: Dorothy and Arthur for Top-Notch (6 stories), and Dugan (3 stories, one of them below), Loquacious Louie (2), and Monk Hausen (2) for The Railroad Man's Magazine. (Data from FictionMags.)

Are the Carlock Bjones tales funny? We say "fitfully so," but you might disagree. We're including them here purely for the sake of completeness.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"I am not baffled. I am never baffled. I may be perplexed, but not baffled. Perplexity is what gives zest to my art."

"The Gold Coupler."
By Augustus Wittfeld (1861?-1935?).
First appearance: The Railroad Man's Magazine, July 1910.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; click the "Zoom In" function 3 or 4 times.)

"The Star Detective Uses His Skill and Mental Telepathy to Penetrate a Mystery."
Someone has sent master detective Carlock Bjones a gold coupler and, while he insists he's never baffled, just who did it has him . . . perplexed . . .

* * *

"Watchem, will you never learn that it is unethical to ask a suspect to explain anything?
The proper course is to secure evidence, or, failing in this, to resort to the expedient of manufacturing evidence to fit the case."

"The Goat Degree."
By Augustus Wittfeld (1861?-1935?).
First appearance: The Railroad Man's Magazine, September 1910.
Reprinted in The Owosso (Michigan) Times, May 30, 1919 (HERE).
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; click the "Zoom In" function a few times.)

"Carlock Bjones Follows a False Clue, and Finds That He Has Been Initiated into an Ancient Order."
Time is of the essence as supersleuth Bjones, being in the employ of the Pole-to-Pole Rail-way, tries to discover who was responsible for the disappearance of a box of Fat-Reducio
en route to Mr. O. B. C. Osofat . . .

* * *

"As Carlock's biographer, it was up to me to try and discover how and by whom he had been robbed of his wonderful discovery . . ."

"The Alcohol Annihilator."
By Augustus Wittfeld (1861?-1935?).
First appearance: The Railroad Man's Magazine, March 1911.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; click the "Zoom In" function a few times.)

"Carlock Bjones, Detective, Does Some Inventing as Well as Sleuthing, with the Customary Results."
A formidable chemist, Carlock Bjones synthesizes a compound which will revolutionize society—but there will always be elements of society that resist being revolutionized . . .

* * *

"Say, pardner, you don't happen to have a ticket to Pittsburgh in your clothes? I'm beginning to think New York is too strenuous for an humble bridge-worker."

"Dirk Johnson's Bank Robbery."
By Augustus Wittfeld (1861?-1935?).
First appearance: The Railroad Man's Magazine, November 1910.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; click the "Zoom In" function 3 or 4 times.)

"An Amateur Detective Gets a Hot Clue but Fails to Reap the Reward."
In one of his many stories of doubtful authenticity, Dugan regales Curran with an adventure starring Dirk Johnson, his trip up the outside of a skyscraper, and his eventful encounter
with "a lone robber, with a red Vandyke and a brace of blued steel barkers" . . .


- Practically no information to speak of about Augustus Wittfield resides on the Interweb; everything we know comes from FictionMags.

The bottom line:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Of All the Things He Did Not Want to Do, Getting Nab-bed on a Murder Charge Was Right Up Near the Top of the List"

"Ready, Aim, Robot!"
By Randall Garrett (1927-87).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, July 1959.
Reprinted in Science Fiction Greats, Summer 1969.
Novelette (21 pages).
Online at (HERE).

"The featureless round ball hovered in the air—and only one man knew the secret of its mask of innocence."
The circumstantial evidence that points to Ross Underhill, a roboticist by profession, as the one who murdered Quentin Thursday, a shifty "businessman," seems irrefutable—but of course he didn't do it. Ross had been suing Thursday over a breach of contract, and he
and Sergeant Hurst, a pal with the police, were serving a subpoena when they discovered Thursday, killed with a coagulator pistol, a nasty way to die:

   "The corpse had the all-over blue look and the odd, bloated stiffness that indicated the protein change within the cells and the nearly instantaneous clotting of the blood that resulted when a coagulator was used."

The D.A. is satisfied enough with the circumstantial evidence to press charges against Ross, who hasn't helped his case any by using a gamma projector and leaving it covered with his fingerprints in Thursday's office the day of the murder—bad enough, but the real killer certainly wouldn't mind if Ross were to take the fall for not only Thursday's death but also those eight other murders-by-coagulator he's helped to commit in the past two months.
If there's one thing Ross Underhill needs more than anything else right now, it's a good lawyer . . .
Comment: The last half of the story is a preliminary hearing in a courtroom, which plays out
a lot like a Perry Mason episode with futuristic dialogue—also, despite the title, this isn't a comedy.
- Another of the great pulp writers, Randall Garrett is gone but definitely not forgotten; there's more about him at Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the International Review of Science Fiction (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and Noah Stewart's weblog (HERE); at the moment 46 of his shorter works are online (see HERE for links).

The bottom line: "The world of the future will be an even more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to

be waited upon by our robot slaves."
Norbert Wiener

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"My Sins Are Many and Long, but Murder Is Not Among 'em"

JOHN STEPHEN STRANGE was, in reality, Dorothy Stockbridge Tillett, a fact she seems to have successfully kept concealed throughout her writing career. Strange's primary output was detective fiction novels, most of them being lauded by contemporary critics (see end of article); according to FictionMags, she seldom produced short works, so the two true (or so they say) crime articles that follow could be considered atypical of our author.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

". . . the inspector had long since learned that the murderer does not wear a visible mark of Cain to help bewildered police officials."

"Tied with a Shoe Lace."
By John Stephen Strange (Dorothy Stockbridge Tillett, 1896-1983).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, February 18, 1928.
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at UNZ (start HERE and finish HERE; scroll down to page 41).

"The true story of a put-up job and how a clever inspector discovered it."
Many a Sunday sermon has cautioned against bearing false witness, which is why you aren't likely to find in the congregation many murderers who've recently crushed in a little old lady's skull for six pounds and change and then tried to pin it on someone else. Continuing in this theological vein, we feel that the killer could have benefitted from a lesson in Greek mytho-logy— you know, the one about the Fates who spin the thread of life, measure it out, and cut
it at their whim. After all, another name for "thread" is "lace," isn't it . . .

~ ~ ~

"And then luck, or fate, or Providence, or whatever it is that deals out the cards in this poker game of life, dealt Detective Thatcher an ace."

"The Harvey Murder."
By John Stephen Strange (Dorothy Stockbridge Tillett, 1896-1983).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, April 21, 1928.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at UNZ (start HERE and finish HERE; scroll down to page 48).
"The story of a cold-blooded murder and how a mother's love solved the mystery."
If someone is going to inherit, someone else has to die—which is why on a chilly winter's morning the furnace man finds the cold, cold corpse of Dr. Harvey "lying on the hearth, fully dressed and quite dead. Beside him on the rug lay the poker with which he had been killed." The trouble is that while the obvious suspects have an obvious motive, there seems to be no provable connection between them and the victim that would lead them to commit murder. It will take a determined police detective, in one of those "Ah ha!" moments we sometimes experience, to finally get all the loose threads to knit together . . .

Comment: Didn't they do this one in a Perry Mason episode—and, before that, in the Bible?
Typo: "he indentified without hesitation"


- There's more about John Stephen Strange on the GAD Wiki (HERE), Mike Grost's megasite (HERE), and Fantastic Fiction (HERE).
- Below are links to reviews, most of them contemporary thumbnails, of some (but not all) of Strange's novels:
  ~ The Man Who Killed Fortescue (1928) (HERE; scroll down to page 251).
  ~ The Clue of the Second Murder (1929) (HERE; scroll down to xxvi).
  ~ The Strangler Fig (1930) (HERE and HERE).
  ~ Black Hawthorn (1933) (HERE).
  ~ The Bell in the Fog (1936) (HERE).
  ~ Silent Witness (1938) (HERE).
  ~ Rope Enough (1938) (HERE and HERE; scroll to page 53).
  ~ A Picture of the Victim (1940) (HERE).
  ~ Murder Gives a Lovely Light (1941) (HERE).
  ~ Look Your Last (1943) (HERE and HERE).
  ~ Make My Bed Soon (1948) (HERE).
  ~ All Men Are Liars (1948) (HERE).
  ~ Reasonable Doubt (1951) (HERE).

  ~ Deadly Beloved (1952) (HERE).

  ~ Let the Dead Past (1953) (HERE).
  ~ Night of Reckoning (1958) (HERE).
  ~ Eye Witness (1961) (HERE).