Saturday, August 2, 2014

"A Thoroughly First Rate Detective Story, Rapid, Absorbing, and Credible"

If you look online for Mrs. Wilson Woodrow you'll probably get lots of information about the wife of the 28th American president, but this isn't the same lady. Mrs. Wilson Woodrow (real name: Nancy Mann Waddel Woodrow) was a mainstream novelist who sometimes veered into mystery/detective fiction, attracting occasional critical notice when she did so:

By Mrs. Wilson Woodrow (Nancy Mann Waddel Woodrow, 1870-1935). 
1922. 320 pages.
Online HERE.
[Full review] A story of a criminal master mind with some modern variations. — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (January 1923; Jump To page 619, bottom right)
By Mrs. Wilson Woodrow (Nancy Mann Waddel Woodrow, 1870-1935). 
G. P. Putnam's Sons.
1925. 329 pages. $2.00 [7s 6d in England].
[Full review] This is a thoroughly first rate detective story, rapid, absorbing, and credible. What matter if three or four points in the course of the tale are slightly obscure? The reader is so carried along by the threads of the plot that he doesn't really care. From first page to last there is never a halt in the crescendo of the action; the story ends, not with pages of dull explanation, but with a smart "click," precisely at the point where the interest is most intense. In many ways this novel is original; each of these departures from the common run is one more reason for the unquestioned success of the book.
Told in the first person by a young lawyer, the plot is of an heiress whose gran[d]father has been murdered as the initial step in a remarkable blackmailing scheme. The frustration of this conspiracy forms the rest of the story. The characters are drawn to the life, the situations are believable, the progress of the incidents logical and orderly. Mrs. Woodrow's novel will delight lovers of mystery and adventure. Written with rare vigor, balance, and charm, Burned Evidence places its author among the foremost contemporary writers of detective stories. — "The New Books," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (June 20, 1925)
[Full review] Mrs. Wilson Woodrow has added yet another victim to the interminable list of millionaires who are murdered in fiction, but she is excused. It is always satisfactory for millionaires to be murdered if what follows is as vivaciously fascinating as her book.
The story begins with the usual rush of incident which has projected Mrs. Wilson Woodrow into the front rank of spell-binders. Jerome Fosdick is blackmailed by Madame Adelbron, a fake medium, and he promptly enlists the services of Anthony Wandridge, a rising young lawyer. An interview takes place between them, and the day after Fosdick is mysteriously done to death.
To keep things at the necessary thrill point, this is quickly followed by a neatly executed burglary at his house when some papers relating to the attempted blackmail are stolen.
Sara Fosdick, the charming daughter of the murdered millonaire, retains the services of Anthony Wandridge to watch her interests, but in the subsequent proceedings this young man's activities cover a much larger field. Suspicion points with an unerring finger in the direction of Madame Adelbron, for Mrs. Wilson Woodrow has made it sufficiently plain that this lady is not nice to know.
The story however abounds in perplexities which are very skilfully hidden behind the undoubted guilt of Madame Adelbron, and we are kept in an interrogative state of mind till the end.
Mrs. Wilson Woodrow has an apt facility for witty illustration. Take this for example: "She was so well dressed that you never noticed her clothes." — "Novel Notes," THE BOOKMAN [UK] (January 1927)
By Mrs. Wilson Woodrow (Nancy Mann Waddel Woodrow, 1870-1935).
[Author's name omitted in review.]
1930. 320 pages. $2.00
[Full review] Tongues began to wag in South Ridge when it was known that Anne Morton had found a dead man in her parlor when she came home from the Curtis's party. Faster and faster they wagged when it was learned that on the same night Mrs. Watson's jewels had disappeared. And who was the fox-faced man who looked in the window? And whose were the silhouettes on the shade?
With the help of Anne's friend Emily, Detective Devore probes the mystery, sets a trap for the criminal, and after giving the reader a few horrid moments of suspense, captures him. Oh yes, the book is The Moonhill Mystery, and it's approved by the Board. — Walter R. Brooks, "Behind the Blurbs," THE OUTLOOK (October 22, 1930)
By Mrs. Wilson Woodrow (Nancy Mann Waddel Woodrow, 1870-1935).
Ray Long & Richard R. Smith, Inc.
1932. 271 pages.
The bookflap reproduced by Facsimile Dust Jackets L.L.C. says: "The story revolves around a murder committed in a theatre, and brings in a number of easily recognizable Broadway characters."
Bonus story:
- "Atchison Always Wins!", COLLIER'S WEEKLY (August 16, 1930), co-authored by Woodrow and C. C. Waddell: " 'Liar! Murderer!' she flung at him; and sweeping her curved fingers out in a leopard stroke, raked her nails down across his cheek." Heywood Atchison—"famous criminal lawyer, art collector, man about town"—was a continuing character in Woodrow's magazine fiction; see HERE for a listing of his seven Red Book appearances, which were also reprinted in The Detective Magazine (a "fortnightly British pulp magazine which ran between 1922-25"a year or so later.

Category: Mystery/Detective fiction

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