Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Captivatingly Ingenious"

In The House of Mystery (1910), Will Irwin introduced a character named Rosalie LeGrange, a "trance and test clairvoyant" and part-time detective; Irwin thought enough of Rosalie to give her a second adventure.

"Cut, dearie," was Rosalie's first line in Chapter VI of:

By Will Irwin [William Henry Irwin, 1873-1948].
A. L. Burt Co.
1910. 250 pages.
Online HERE and HERE.
[Review excerpt] . . . the story that centres in Mr. Irwin's mysterious house is captivatingly ingenious. High finance, spookish revelations, a fading heroine, a bold lover, a specious rascal, an honest charlatan, all surrounded by an atmosphere highly charged with what New York is coming to signify in fiction—what more could be desired of a novel meant for quick reading? — "Current Fiction," THE NATION (March 31, 1910; go to page 319, top left)
[Full review] An attempt to expose a New York medium, involving the success or failure of a young man's suit for the hand of a charming girl—this is, in brief, the outline of the novel "The House of Mystery."
Dr. Blake, the lover, is a young surgeon just home from the Philippines. He desires to wed Annette Markham, the niece of the medium, but is restrained by the inexplicable antagonism of the older woman and a certain elusive mystery surrounding the younger.
Convinced that some professional trickery is at the bottom of the trouble, he hires Rosalie La [sic] Grange, another medium, to spy upon the aunt.
Rosalie is quite the best character in the book, a clever combination of fraud and sincerity, kindness, and vulgarity.
Admitting the existence of the "real thing" in the spiritual realm, she yet maintains that "mediums are a set of pipe-dreamers as a class."
Her investigations bring on an exciting climax. Robert Norcross, a prominent financier, is the victim of the medium's machinations at the time, also the dupe of a broker, who makes use of his credulity to further his own financial scheme.
How Annette has likewise been an unconscious victim and is finally [SPOILER DELETED], all of which is entertainingly told.
The book shows familiarity with the methods commonly employed by irresponsible mediums. It shows no disposition to delve deeply into the matter of spiritualism, however, nor even to consider it seriously. Rather, the author has made use of "the house of mystery" as a picturesque background for a very readable story. — "A Guide to the New Books," THE LITERARY DIGEST (April 23, 1910)
By Will Irwin [William Henry Irwin, 1873-1948].
Syndicate Publishing Co.
1912. 370 pages. $1.30
Serialized in Munsey's Magazine, May-October 1912: Part 1 HERE; Part 2 HERE; Part 3 HERE; Part 4 HERE; Part 5 HERE; and Part 6 HERE.
[SPOILERS: Full review] The Red Button, by Will Irwin, is a detective story as good as a score of others, all turned out apparently on one model, that have delighted or bored readers in the last few years.
This particular red button is found upon a fire-escape outside the window of a room in which a murder has been committed. On the floor above lives a South American woman, an invalid of beauty and mystery. She minds her own business, but she wears shoes with red buttons, and the detective who finds the button on the fire-escape soon discovers that [SPOILER DELETED].
All of which goes to show that when [SPOILER DELETED], be sure that [SPOILER DELETED]. — Philip G. Hubert, Jr., "A Budget of Novels," THE BOOKMAN (December 1912; go to page 463, right middle)
[Full review] Those who have met, in other stories by Mr. Irwin, Rosalie La [sic] Grange, the medium with all the stock in trade of any high-class fakir, but with an abundant store of humanity and decent feeling as well, will be glad to meet her again in a slightly different role.
As a combination of unofficial detective and dea ex machina in the lives of several people involved in a mysterious tragedy she is as interesting and as likable as ever.
A story to keep one up till it's finished. — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (May 31, 1913)

Category: Detective fiction

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