Thursday, October 17, 2013

The One and Only Philo Gubb

In "Philo Gubb's Greatest Case," The Great Intermittent Detective and Correspondence School Student is approached by a woman to wallpaper her bedroom—and coincidentally find her missing husband.

When asked what a clue is, he replies:
"A clue," said P. Gubb, "is almost anything connected with the late lamented, but generally something that nobody but a deteckative would think had anything to do with anything whatsoever. Not infrequently often it is a button."
For once, Gubb's assault on the English language is surpassed by Mr. Critz in "The Hard-boiled Egg." Gubb follows a learning curve as he acquires more knowledge of the "deteckative" business—and life in general.
As he says: 
"I don't aim to start in deteckating in earnest for a couple of months yet. I got a couple of jobs of paper-hanging and decorating to finish up, and I can't start in sleuthing until I get my star, anyway. And I don't get my star until I get one more lesson, and learn it, and send in the examination paper, and five dollars extra for the diploma. Then I'm goin' at it as a reg'lar business. It's a good business. Every day there's more crooks—excuse me, I didn't mean to say that."
The Correspondence School Detective encounters a knotty case in "The Pet." Kidnapping and murder most foul are suspected, and Gubb must investigate a travelling circus to reach a solution.
For several months the detective business of Philo Gubb had been at a low ebb. A period of detestable freedom from crime had fallen upon Riverbank, and the correspondence school detective had begun to fear that the triumph of virtue had been accomplished and that the millennium was at hand. So hungry was he for an opportunity to exercise his knowledge of detection that he would have taken a job to detect where any hen had hidden her 'stolen' nest, and would have accepted one tenth of the unhatched chicks as remuneration.
He must deploy his formidable, and quite negligible, powers of disguise, as he tells us:
"In the deteckative profession the assuming of disguises is often necessary to the completion of the clarification of a mystery plot."
"A deteckative gent is obliged to keep up a set of disguises hitherto unsuspected by the mortal world. To deceive the malefactoring population he has to be quite constantly in disguise . . . ."
- The first 17 Philo Gubb stories are available online here.
- Douglas G. Greene has compiled all 37 of Philo's adventures under the title THE COMPLETE DETECKATIVE MEMOIRS OF PHILO GUBB, ESQUIRE.

Category: Detective fiction

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