Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Would You Like to See a Murder Done?"

"My Own Murderer."
By E. J. Goodman (1836-1921?).
First appearance: The Idler Magazine, June 1893.
Short story (10 pages, with 10 illos). (Note: One image reverses the text description.)
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
"What do you know of crime?"
Art imitates life at just about every turn, but when life imitates art it's worth noting—and sometimes it can be just plain scary:
When I say that my name is Samuel Chillip, of course you will know who I am. Yes, I am the author—it has been said the famous author—of “The Poisoned Waterbottle,” “Steeped in Gore,” “The Demon Detective,” and other highly sensational and blood-curdling stories. But though these tales of mine have brought me some fame and a fair amount of profit, I am not particularly proud of them. I really don’t know how I, so to speak, drifted into crime. I never liked it, and, of course, never practised it myself. I would much rather have written sentimental or moral stories, but I seemed somehow fated to turn my attention to fraud and violence, and I could not get away from such subjects.
Then one memorable night, life intrudes on Samuel's cozy artistic existence, and things will never be the same again:
Nothing out of the usual course had happened on the memorable evening of which I am about to tell, and which was destined to have so marked an influence on my literary career.
Because there in his seemingly safe and secure study Samuel is about to be forced to consider a question he never thought he'd have to answer: "Would you like to see a murderer?"
- We couldn't find out much about our author E. J. Goodman, except that he or she wrote a popular book about touring Norway and a thriller called Paid in His Own Coin (1888), which the Pall Mall Gazette (Thursday, September 20, 1888 (HERE), at a time when all of England was engrossed in the atrocities of Jack the Ripper, characterized as follows:
"Paid in His Own Coin." By E. J. Goodman. Three Vols. (Richard Bentley and Son.) At the present moment, when the horrors of the East End have whetted the taste for, and the interest in, mysterious murders, the present story ought to prove attractive. A young medical man is accused of having caused the death of his father-in-law by administering some strange narcotic, unknown to the medical world, and two drops of which cause a deep sleep, ending in death. The story opens on the scene in the law courts at the end of the trial of Dr. Wynd for murder. He is acquitted for want of evidence, but the uncharitable public declines to believe in his innocence. A gaunt, red-haired fellow who day after day has watched the case with keenest interest - his one interest in life being the study of cases of "scientific" murder - dogs the footsteps of the accused man, and eventually discovers that the latter is indeed the perpetrator of the crime, and is paid in his own coin by being killed in his turn. So far, so well; and if the outline of a plot could make a tale successful there is no reason why the author should not have written a readable book. But after it has been said that the plot is not bad, there remains absolutely nothing more to be said in praise of the novel. Among the puppets who are dragged before the public to represent the "characters" there is not a single one which can boast of possessing an average quantity of common sense or intelligence; and never for a moment is it possible for a reader to have a fellow-feeling for any of the imbecile creatures crawling along towards the final denouement with all its sensational absurdities.
- Our story shouldn't be confused with Richard Hull's 1941 novel (HERE) and (HERE).

The bottom line: "The Edge . . . There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."
Hunter S. Thompson

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