Friday, February 23, 2018

"Can You Get Sherlock Holmes by Wireless?"

"The Stolen Emerald."
By Harris Merton Lyon (1881-1916).
First appearance: Hampton's Magazine, March 1912.
Short short story (6 pages, 3 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE).
(Note: Use "Full Screen" for the full effect.)

"H. says he can't come, as he is working on the case of the nearsighted crown jewel thief. Look up Mr. John Raffles, of 1111 Broadway."
When it comes to finding the purloined Nero emerald, the right man for the job might not be a man at all . . .
Typo: "the trouble had began"

Resources:
- FictionMags's chronological list of Harris Merton Lyon's output from 1907 to his death in 1916 (with one posthumously published tale) shows that most of it was humorous stories.

- The reference to Arsène Lupin's picking the pocket of the Sage of Baker Street is from Maurice Leblanc's "Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late" (1907), online at David Stewart's collection (HERE).
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Was There Sound, Mister, with Only a Deaf Man Living Near That Door, Passing It Twenty Times a Day"

"Cry Silence."
By Fredric Brown (1906-72).
First appearance: Black Mask, November 1948.
Reprinted in Black Mask (U.K.), April 1949; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1953; and Suspense (U.K.),
January 1959 (FictionMags data).
Collected in The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (2010) and Miss Darkness: The Great Short Crime Fiction of
Fredric Brown (2012).
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"Would you try to save your wife from a killer? Seems like a simple question, but to Mandy's husband, it was one to stump the experts."
That silent man in the train station: should he be pitied—or executed?
Resources:
- For a comprehensive background article on Fredric Brown, the crime writer (as distinct from his SFFnal output), see The Thrilling Detective (HERE).
- This story is discussed by Graham Powell at Nasty. Brutish. Short. (HERE), so beware of SPOILERS: "The twist ending to this short little shocker is worth the price of admission."
- ONTOS has already had several close encounters with Fredric Brown: (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
The bottom line:
  I think the echoes of his shames have deafed
  The ears of heavenly justice . . .
  — Palamon

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Anything That Old Battleax Got She Deserved—Provided There's a Corpus Delicti"

"Eau de Morgue."
By Arthur T. Harris (pseudonym, ?-?).
First appearance: Fantastic Universe, June 1956.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

"Vengeance can be very complete when it ends with a refrain to the tender lyric: 'All of me!'"
Let's face it: Some relationships were never meant to last; while the song tells us that break-ing up is hard to do, in this instance a four-ounce bottle of Madame Outre's Shangri-La Bath Salts makes it oh-so-easy . . .

Resource:
- A very short bibliography of Arthur T. Harris's stories is on the ISFDb (HERE).

- As to the "tender lyric" mentioned above ("All of Me," 1931), it would be easier to
name the performers who haven't recorded the tune; Willie Nelson's version on
YouTube (HERE; 3 minutes 52 seconds) is no worse than most.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"I Want This 'New York Roddy'!"

"Ev'rybody Likes a Gunman."
By Max Bonter (1882-?).
First appearance: Adventure, August 18, 1921.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).
(Note: Be sure to use the "Full Screen" function.)

". . . if you want me, you're not goin' to get me. You won't even get as far as that door!"
It really is a small world, isn't it, when you run afoul of somebody you ran afoul of twenty years ago . . .

Guys (and a doll):
~ The chief:
  "Ire, strong and ill-controlled, blazed in his deep-set eyes."
~ Blackson:
  "Quickly he left the unpretentious base headquarters where society's defensive brain-force was centralized and at bay before the increasingly vicious assaults of the underworld."
~ "New York Roddy":
  "New York Roddy's laughing eyes held vision as subtly sure as a cat's and the fireman sensed with unerring accuracy the nature of the potential destruction concealed in that
gray overcoat pocket."
~ "That dame":
  ". . . made a cool thirty-five on that transaction on a fifteen principal. Don't they learn, eh? She ought to be in Wall Street. Pays to get robbed sometimes, eh? That's why ev'rybody
likes a gunman."
Typos: "collabotaors"; "New York Ruddy".
Artwork by Harry Wickey
Resources:
- Our undercover detective, pretending to be a gob (the old term for an American sailor), is frequently referred to as a "fireman," which doesn't mean "firefighter" here: "Fireman or stoker is the job title for someone whose job is to tend the fire for the running of a steam engine. On steam locomotives the term fireman is usually used, while on steamships and stationary steam engines, such as those driving saw mills, the term is usually stoker . . ."
  — Wikipedia, "Fireman (steam engine)"
- Remember that our story takes place shortly after Prohibition went into effect; see the History.com article (HERE).
- There's almost no information about our author to be found; FictionMags's thumbnail: "Sailor. Probably from New York."
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Monday, February 19, 2018

"Dead, Lying There Dead, with Marks on His Throat—Murder, All Right"

"The Right Thing."
By Ray Cummings (1887-1957).
First appearance: The Argosy, March 27, 1920.
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at Comic Book Plus (HERE; select page 126

from dropdown menu).
(Note: Text is faded but readable.)
"So far as your happiness is concerned, he'd be better off dead, and I wish he was."
Thanks to Shakespeare, we all know how the course of true love doth run; toss divided loyalties into the mix, and it's no wonder that Beth is anxious about whether doing the
right thing is doing the right thing . . .

Dramatis personae:
~ Beth Rollins:
  "In the hand she held outstretched a bit of polished steel glistened in the lamplight."
~ Tom Hawley:
  ". . . standing there now by the fireplace watching her wonderingly—Tom Hawley was
a murderer?"
~ Sheriff Williams:
  "It's him all right—only circumstantial evidence, but damn strong."

Typo: "Vailestown"
Resources:
- We've run across uberpulpster Raymond King Cummings quite a few times; go (HERE) for those instances.
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Friday, February 16, 2018

"Certainly It Was Impossible — Except That Mr. Gru Was Stone Cold Dead . . ."

WOULD YOU BELIEVE a story set a couple of centuries from now that's also a locked room mystery? Uber-editor John W. Campbell would probably scoff, but, as our sleuth says, "You were wrong about nothing having changed in the past two hundred years. This was a crime which could not have happened then."

"The Closed Door."
By Kendall [sic] Foster Crossen (1910-81).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, August-September 1953.
Reprinted in Amazing Stories (U.K.), December 1953 and Fantastic, February 1969.
Short story (18 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF) and Archive.org starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE).

"This is a detective story. Without, we hasten to add, private eyes, blonds, beds, bigamy or bottles of bourbon. The setting is a luxurious interplanetary hotel three hundred years in the future . . ."
They say when one door closes, another opens; in the matter of the murder of the humanoid from Sirius II, it ain't necessarily so . . .
The whos in this whodunit:
~ G. G. Gru:
  "If there's one thing I can't abide, it's practical jokers."
~ Alister Chu, manager of the Planetary Rest Hotel:
  ". . . quickly told of the call he'd received from the guest on this floor. He explained
the whole thing in great detail, including his impression of the guest's falling apart:
'Not literally, of course.'"
~ Chief Inspector Maiset, head of the Solar Department, Terran Division, Interplanetary Criminal Police Commission:
  "It's suspected murder and delicate interplanetary relations."
~ Detective Inspector Jair Calder:
  "If Gideon Fell could have lived to see this . . ."
~ Sub-Inspector Aly Mordette, Provincial Police:
  "Oh, we have our Twenty-second Century gadgets, but everything works just the same
as it did in the Nineteenth or Twentieth Century. You can take my word for it, Inspector."
~ James Bruce, an employee of Plasticorp and chairman of the Acrylic convention:
  "'I do hope, however, that your investigation won't disturb our convention too much.
We have some pretty important men here.' He bore down on the word important just
enough."
~ Cooerl II, a Mercurian:
  ". . . I went to the public visiphone booth at the end of the corridor. But there was no
one there when I answered. Apparently the party had hung up, or it was a practical joke."
Resources:
- Some of Kendell Foster Crossen's writing seems to have been influenced by his experiences as an insurance investigator; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE),
and ISFDb (HERE) for the 411 on him.
- Sundry heavenly bodies get a brief mention in the story: Acrux (HERE), Canopus
(HERE and HERE), Mercury (HERE and HERE), Algenib (HERE), Sirius (HERE
and HERE), Mars (HERE and HERE), Rigel (HERE and HERE), Aldebaran (HERE
and HERE), and Antares (HERE and HERE).
- Silicon-based life forms have been popular in SFF for a long time; see David Darling's Encyclopedia (HERE), Wikipedia (HERE), and Scientific American (HERE).
- Another story blending SFF and tec fic is Fredric Brown's "Daymare" (HERE).
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Shots Crashed and I Flopped in the Mud"

"The Ride."
By John B. Kennedy (1894-1961).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, October 12, 1929.
Short short short story (1 page).
Online at UNZ (HERE)
.
"He was a decent gunman."
Like those bad guys from Japetus, these mobsters learn just a little too late that honor among thieves goes only so far—and then . . .

Resources:
- John Bright Kennedy was a regular contributor to the major slicks between 1926 and 1938; FictionMags's story listing shows he switched back and forth between nonfiction articles featuring the most illustrious figures of the day and fiction.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"The City Dies If Anyone Tries to Tail Us or Pull a Double Cross"

"The Three Thieves of Japetus."
By Mark Reinsberg (1923-81).
First appearance: Imagination, June 1957.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

"Murder is always a cold-blooded crime any way you look at it. But for outright cruelty and barbarism there was no equal to the actions of—The Three Thieves of Japetus."
The Bard basically nailed it when he had Falstaff complain, "A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!"
Typo: "luninescent"

Resources:
- For more about SFF superfan Mark Reinsberg, see the Fancyclopedia (HERE and reference HERE) and the ISFDb (HERE).
Artwork by Bambam131
- Japetus, Titan, and Hyperion are mentioned in our story. These days the preferred spelling of Japetus, a two-toned natural satellite of Saturn, is Iapetus (HERE); quite a few science fiction writers have used Iapetus in their stories (HERE); a 3-D map of the real Iapetus is (HERE). You can read more about Titan, Saturn's largest moon, in fact (HERE) and fiction (HERE), and the same goes for Hyperion (HERE) and (HERE).
The Earth, the Moon, and (lower left) Iapetus (Japetus).

The bottom line: "The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.”
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Every Burglar in London Was Asking for His Address"

"The Great Green Diamond."
By Gilbert Floyd (1871-1935).
First appearance: The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, March 1899.
Short short story (5 pages, 5 illos).

Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).
(Note: Use the "Full Screen" function for better viewing.)
"The subsequent adventures of the great Battersby diamond may yet be traced halfway round the world, in the series of modest headstones which mark the last resting-places of its various lessees—for the jewel brought luck to no man, and people said that to possess it was to court a sudden and painful death."
A hot rock indeed, as dangerous to its possessor as the Blue Carbuncle of recent memory; however, Battersby, the present owner of the diamond ("the eighth wonder of the world"—the stone, not Battersby), evidently likes to live dangerously and remains, to all appearances, unfazed by the diamond's dire reputation—until that heart-stopping moment when it disappears, precipitating a crisis that could almost certainly spell the end of a beautiful friendship* . . .
Resources:
- FictionMags informs us that Gilbert Gover Floyd used two other noms de plume; as Duncan Storm he was a regular contributor of juvenile adventure tales to The Boys' Friend for over a decade, but as Julia Storm had just one story published in Schoolgirls’ Own.

- The story, "Beating the Lights," dealt with a stone of a different hue (HERE).

* . . . which, as you probably know, is spelled t-h-e e-n-d o-f a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l f-r-i-e-n-d-s-h-i-p.
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Twenty-five

"A curious monomaniac. The man seems to believe everybody was acquainted with his mother."
~ ~ ~
"Charles Dickens As Criminologist."
By Paul C. Squires (?-?).
First appearance: The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, July-August 1938.
Article (32 pages).
Online (HERE) (PDF).
"He is not a preacher. He is a master analyst in the field of criminology."
As you can tell from the quote just above, our author diverges somewhat from the usual appraisal of Charles Dickens's criminously-related stories (see "Resources," below), giving him high marks for his criminological acumen. Throughout the essay, Freud raises his ugly head (let's face it, Sigmund was no Adonis) in the form of his theories of psychosexual pathology as they might relate to criminality. Since Squires must needs discuss plot details of several of Dickens's books, we're issuing a SPOILERS warning at this point:

  "It is our plan to take up in this paper three of the novels [Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Our Mutual Friend] and consider
the criminalistic aspects in a systematic manner."

Just a few snippets:
  They say you should write about what you know:

  "That he [Charles Dickens], who knew the streets, the law courts,
the lowest haunts of London as intimately as he knew the rooms of
his own house, must have had strong convictions on this subject
cannot be doubted by anyone even casually acquainted with his
novels and miscellaneous writings. He was intensely interested
not only in the common law and chancery, but also and preemi-
nently in the criminal law of England."

  To the charge that Dickens was only a caricaturist:

  "The principal difficulty cast in one's way when endeavoring
to interpret Dickens's characters is this: Dickens takes a single
human trait and constructs a personality out of it. In so doing
he is not, perhaps, as far wrong as some people would try to
argue. After all, are not men and women just so many exagger-
ations of a main, central trait—variations on a theme, we might
say—which determines their destinies? The big task is to break
through the encrustation of caricature covering the dramatis
personae of Dickens, thereby revealing their true essence.
When this is once accomplished, we find that his characters
are 'all too human,' to borrow a title from Nietzsche."

  Not everyone was a deep-dyed villain:

  "Dickens fought for a decent measure of flexibility in the harsh
penal system of his country. He carefully distinguishes between
the various kinds of motivation leading to anti-social conduct.
He always asks himself: Is this man worth saving?"

Social improvement was always Dickens's primary aim:

  "Whereas in Great Expectations we have observed the mature
Dickens at work, in Oliver Twist we see the youthful reformer
in all the white heat of his enthusiasm. Here is the sort of
realism that jarred the prudes of the Victorian era. Oliver
Twist was written not only for the purpose of holding up to
shame and universal condemnation the poorhouse system
of his day, but especially aimed to debunk crime and the
criminal."

Even the middle class couldn't escape Boz's critical gaze:

  "This [Our Mutual Friend], Dickens's last completed novel,
introduces us to a criminal type differing radically from his
preceding portraitures. We refer, of course, to the school-
master Bradley Headstone. As Chesterton insightfully says,
'it was a new notion to combine a deadly criminality not
with high life or the slums (the usual haunts for villains)
but with the laborious respectability of the lower, middle
classes.' Dickens here made a notable voyage of exploration
into one of the most obscure domains of psychiatry and
criminology. His study of Headstone's mental pathology
is so remarkable as in and by itself to assure him a seat
among the great literary psychiatrists."

The author's conclusion:

  "Dickens does not smear a thick, nauseating coat of varnish
over his felons and crooks, as some have done. He refuses to
wax maudlin over them. He insists on tracing out the maze
of causation which produces the individual who breaks the
tablets of the law. The criminal is, for him, a natural and
historical phenomenon."


Typo: "Whether Orlick intended to will Mrs. Joe that night"

Resources:
- Project Gutenberg has Great Expectations (1861) (HERE), Oliver Twist (1837) (HERE), and Our Mutual Friend (1865) (HERE). Interestingly enough, our author doesn't even mention
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870), over which much ink has been spilled since its first appearance; go (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- In a related vein, see John Marshall Gest's The Lawyer in Literature (1913) (online HERE; reviewed HERE), especially Chapters I ("The Law and Lawyers of Charles Dickens") and II ("The Law and Lawyers of Pickwick"):

  "As Dickens viewed the law with profound contempt, so he regarded lawyers with scant favor. Most of the lawyers in his books are shysters, as we would call them, or narrow, mean, ignorant pettifoggers. His books are crowded with familiar specimens. . . .
  "He was, as I said, sentimental and emotional; he was sympathetic also. He saw and appreciated the evils of society as they existed in his day, but he lacked the constructive faculty of suggesting practical reforms. His ability consisted in exciting compassion for the poor and oppressed, scorn and contempt for the oppressor, and derision for the laws which, at the time he wrote, favored poverty and oppression, and were the worn-out heritage of

an earlier stage of society. . . .
  "I repeat that in reading Dickens's description of the law and lawyers we must bear in mind that, first and last, his aim was to ridicule, satirize and caricature all that he disliked and despised, and he saw much in the law
and lawyers of England to dislike and despise. He was not, of course, an educated lawyer. I doubt very much if he ever read any law at all."

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Friday, February 9, 2018

"He'll Have Quite a Surprise in Store for Him"

"The Incomplete Theft."
By Ralph Burke (Robert Silverberg, born 1935).
(FictionMags says this story was "ghost written by Randall Garrett").
First appearance: Imagination, February 1957.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

"He walked directly across the well-lighted safety area, and the guards paid not the slightest attention."
It's highly unlikely that a thief ever stops to think that whatever he has set his mind on stealing just might steal him . . .

Characters:
~ Peter Blane:
  "She's a real beauty. When will she be finished?"

~ John Mitchell:
  "This afternoon. The boys are tightening the last bolts and putting in the final wiring now. The job's just about over, Pete."

~ Dr. Harris:
  "An Earthman stepped out, an engineer named Harris who had apparently been making some last-minute adjustments on the ship."


Comment: The self-teleporting starship—a real time-saver:

   "It was simple to operate; all the pilot had to do was set up the coordinates of his target, turn on the hyperkinetic generator, and press the activator button. The generator itself did the rest. The field enclosed the ship, and instantaneously the ship was a hundred or a thousand light-years away."

Resources:
- Robert Silverberg has used the "Ralph Burke" alias at least thirteen times ("three times in collaboration with Randall Garrett," according to the SFE); it was just last month that we

paid a visit to Silverberg (HERE).
- Detailed discussions of teleportation reside on Wikipedia (HERE) and Atomic Rockets (HERE); the U.S. Air Force Research Lab's report (HERE) (PDF, 88 pages) actually consid-ered such a highly unlikely technical development.
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Thursday, February 8, 2018

"I Wouldn't Travel in That Car Not for No Money"

"The Missing Pullman Car."
By W. L. Alden (1837-1908).
First appearance: To-Day, November 10, 1894.
Short short short story (4 pages, 4 illos).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

"Stealing freight cars is something that happens every day, but stealing a Pullman was something new in the stealing line."
A "killer" railroad car? Surely you jest . . .

Comment: What looks like a case of criminality can, on occasion, be the result of a concatenation of innocent events.

Resources:
- Our author, William L. Alden, also wrote SFFnal fiction as well; see Wikipedia (HERE),

the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE) for more about him and his work.
- Go (HERE) for other railway-related stories.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"Crime Must Touch Our Imagination by Showing People, Like Ourselves, but Incredibly Transformed by Some Overwhelming Motive"

"Why Human Beings Are Interested in Crime."
By Anna Katharine Green (Mrs. Charles Rohlfs, 1846-1935).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, April 1919.
Article (4 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

"This Author has written detective stories which have sold by the million. When it comes to judging what interests people she is an expert."
At the age of seventy-two and with four decades of mystery writing under her belt, Anna Katharine Green's thoughts on crime fiction would be worth consideration. Here's an article by her that was published roughly a year before Agatha Christie's first book hit the press.

A few excerpts:
  Over the years, S. S. Van Dine and many other detective fiction authors have echoed Green about the primacy of murder in detective fiction:

   "Murder is the most interesting crime in the whole category . . . There is complete finality about such a crime. And as the motive must be corres-pondingly overwhelming it is, therefore, of the most vital interest."

  What she means by the next sentence becomes clear in the article:

  "Crime is contrary to Nature. And Nature often seems bent on punishing it."


  It's plain that Green isn't enamored of ingenious "gimmicks" (what she terms "arbitrary helps") to tell the story, which would pretty much relegate John Dickson Carr and Co. to oblivion:

  "In writing detective stories, the less one resorts to arbitrary helps in the mystery, the better."

  To her, motivation is the principal element in crime fiction:

  ". . . motives do not change! Character remains the same—built of the eternal qualities of good and evil."


Resources:
- Of course there's an article about Anna Katharine Green on Wikipedia (HERE) and one on the GAD Wiki (HERE), and of course Project Gutenberg has many of her books (thirty-eight, in fact) starting (HERE).
- It has been well over three years since we last discussed our author; previous ONTOS postings are (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).

The bottom line: "Do we have to do murder? Sure we have to do murder. There are only two subjects—a woman's chastity, and murder. Nobody's interested in chastity any more. Murder's all we got to write stories about."
Leslie Ford

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

"When His Body Was Found the Diamonds Were Gone"

"The Owl Hoots Twice."
By Sax Rohmer (A. Sarsfield Ward, 1883-1959).
First appearance: Collier's, February 14, 1948.
Reprinted in The Saint Detective Magazine, August 1956; The Saint Detective Magazine (U.K.), May 1957; and The New Strand, August 1962.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at UNZ (HERE) and (HERE) (scroll down to page 76)
.

"The famous creator of the infamous Fu Manchu writes a different kind of story—a tale of murder and mystery to hold you in suspense and keep you guessing."
Since there's been a murder in Quarry Lane, you'd think the killer wouldn't hang around for long; overconfidence engendered by the belief that they couldn't possibly be suspected, however, has been the undoing of more than one criminal. Worse for him, the murderer doesn't heed the owl. Like Mary says, "Did you ever hear a barn owl hoot twice? I mean just twice, no more. They'd tell you, where I come from: If ever you do, look out. It means black luck—for somebody . . ."

The unusual suspects:
~ Mary Maguire:
  "I sat down beside her—and her eyes regarded me gravely. There was a depth of discern-ment in the gravity of her eyes that I found disturbing. There, in the dimness, I wondered
why had she ventured after me. What did she suspect?"
~ Jim:
  "'Are you a deserter, Jim?' she asked softly. 'Yes,' I lied, and looked away."
~ Superintendent Stopes:
  "I'm on my way to Quarry Lane, Mr. Larkin, and I just looked in to say how d'you do to Mary. I'm not satisfied with the way the inquiry is going."
~ Martin:
  "In many ways, the higher-ups aren't satisfied with the way things are run in this neighbor-hood. Take the murder along in Quarry Lane, for instance. Whoever did it must have known the old man's habits."
~ Edward Larkin:
  "Well, Martin, frankly we fear he's been dipping pretty freely into funds raised for charity.
He drinks hard, he's separated from his wife, and he runs another woman over in Minsted."

Comment: Compact mystery with a nice twist.

Resources:
- For die-hard fans of Fu Manchu, our author needs no introduction; for the rest of us, see Wikipedia (HERE) and the Project Gutenberg list (HERE).
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Monday, February 5, 2018

"Oh, My Aunt!"

IT'S AN UNEXPECTED pleasure to stumble across the first American appearance of a long-running series British sleuth. Sherlock Holmes may have had his A Study in Scarlet and Miss Marple "The Tuesday Night Club," but Reggie Fortune (introduced to the world nearly twenty years after H. C. Bailey started publishing) will always have "The Magic Stone." The editor of People's magazine left us this note:

   "This is the first of a series of amusing short stories about the entertaining adventures of Mr. Reginald Fortune, detective at large. Each story is complete in itself. We think you will enjoy the whimsical Mr. Fortune."

Here are Reggie's first seven exploits in an American periodical (FictionMags data) (ss = short story; nv = novelette):


  (1) "The Magic Stone" (ss), People’s, January 1, 1923 [below]
  (2) "The Snowball Burglary" (ss), People’s, January 15, 1923
  (3) "The President of San Isidro" (ss), People’s, February 1, 1923 [possible duplication of story (7) below]
  (4) "The Unknown Murderer" (nv), People’s, March 1, 1923
  (5) "The Vanishing Lady" (nv), People’s, April 1, 1923
  (6) "The Ascot Tragedy" (nv) People’s, May 1, 1923
  (7) "The President of San Jacinto" (nv).


All of these were collected in Mr. Fortune’s Practice (1923) (reviewed HERE).
~ ~ ~
   "Begin at the beginning and relate all facts without passion or recrimination."

"The Magic Stone."
By H. C. Bailey (1878-1961).
First appearance: People's, January 1, 1923.
Short story (13 pages).
Collected in Mr. Fortune's Practice (1923).

Online at Archive.org (HERE).
"A nightingale began to sing in the limes."
When Superintendent Lomas just happens to mention that the British Museum has lost "an infernal pebble," it starts Reggie Fortune down a long and winding trail that will lead him to eccentric collectors, an enigmatic woman, a duplicitous sibling, a creepy house, a kidnap-ping, and a fatal car crash . . .

Typo: "she cired"
Artwork by F. Dorr Steele
Introduction to Reginald Fortune

On his capabilities:

  "It was an enemy who said that Mr. Fortune had a larger mass of useless knowledge than any man in England. Mr. Fortune has been heard to explain his eminence in the application of science to crime by explaining that he knows nothing thoroughly, but a little of everything, thus preserving an open mind. Or will you prefer to believe with Superintendent Bell that he has some singular faculty for feeling other men's minds at work, a sort of sixth sense? This is mystical and no one is less mystical than Reggie Fortune."

On Reggie's acquaintances:

  "It is believed that there is no class or trade, from beggars to bishops, in which Reggie Fortune has not friends."

On the limitations of the police:

  ". . . he is apt to diverge into an argument that policemen are creatures whose function in the world is to shut the stable door after the horse is
stolen. A pet theory of his."

On Reggie's driving skills:

  "Sam, his admirable chauffeur, was told that he [Reggie] preferred to drive himself, which is always in him a sign of mental excitement."

. . . and Reggie on himself:

  "I don't like men dying, that's all. Professional prejudice. I'm a doctor, you see."
Resources:
- Nick Fuller's assessment of H. C. Bailey ("one of the true masters of the genre, and, like all the best writers, shamefully neglected today") is still online (HERE).
- Jon L. Breen keenly reviews (HERE) a recent book about Bailey and his sleuth that echoes Nick Fuller ("Identifying ten types of detective characters, Blackwell believes he can squeeze Fortune into eight of them [Eccentric Thinking Machine, Scientist, Psychologist and the Intuitive, Defender of Justice, Philosopher, Erudite Scholar, Aristocrat, and, most surpris-ingly, Hard-Boiled], leaving only Ordinary and Mystical/Psychic").
- ONTOS has noted Bailey's work on more than one occasion (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- Thanks to Nick Fuller for his helpful corrections.
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