Friday, October 10, 2014

"There Are Murders, There's a Detective, and Sleuthing of a Sort, but the Solution Is in the Stratosphere"

When it comes to Golden Age mystery writers who have virtually zero presence on the World Wide Web, Sidney Williams just about tops them all; when his books did get reviewed (and the six below are the only ones we presently know about), they rarely got more than one liners. Williams's series detective was Jabez Twombley, characterized by one reviewer as an "American J. G. Reeder."

By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
The Penn Publishing Co.
1922. 318 pages.
[Full review] The literary editor of the Philadelphia "North American" indulges in a spree and affords thrilling entertainment. — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (May 1922; go to page 297, bottom)
By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
The Penn Publishing Co.
1923. 325 pages.
[Full review] Murder, mystery, love—from whatever point of view, this is excellently well done. — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (September 1923; go to page 63, bottom right)
By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
The Penn Publishing Co.
1925. 320 pages. $2.00
[Full review] There is none of the usual preparatory tinkering evident before this yarn takes a swift and early plunge into the seething waters of tempestuous action.
Three gentlemen, Dr. Caswell, the elderly host, his younger friends, Anthony and Delancey, land from the sailing yacht, Viva, on Nyatt Island off the New England coast. They crave adventure, and all unsuspected it greets them the moment they set foot on the shore.
"Are you Griffis?" asks a burly club-footed individual of Delancey. "Suppose I am," answers the latter, and thereby lets himself and his two companions into the three most thrilling days they have ever experienced.
The hostility and persecution of a powerful rum running aggregation, with receiving quarters on the island, immediately centers upon the newcomers, but there are numerous other characters and complications continuously supplied which insure a ceaseless round of excitement for the reader.
In totalling the list of attractions which combine to present a first class show of its kind, we may cite conspicuously: One murder, two abductions, two rapid-fire love affairs, intrigue, and mystification, all materializing with an adroit swiftness which keeps one constantly, if blindly, on the alert for what will happen next.
And not the least agreeable feature of the whole lies in Mr. Williams's style which, for a novel of this sort, is singularly readable and cultivated. If there must be mystery stories (we are one who owns to a secret weakness for them), their quality could be immeasurably bettered were less creditable workers in the field to study Mr. Williams's prose as a guide to the mastery of pure and yet intensely vital diction. — "The New Books," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 9, 1925; go to page 749, first column, middle)
[Full review] Bootleggers spoil a holiday, and their punishment provides numerous thrills. — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (June 1925; go to page 468, right bottom)
By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
The Penn Publishing Co.
1927. 318 pages.
[Full review] Well contrived murder mystery—guess it if you can! — "The Bookman's Guide to Fiction," THE BOOKMAN (April 1927; go to page 212, right bottom)
[Full review] "The Drury Club Case" is much the best of his murder mysteries. It is bright, amusing, and almost impossible of solution until the final untying of knots. This is an unusual story, and one which all lovers of this kind of fiction should read at once. — J. F., "The Editor Recommends," THE BOOKMAN (April 1927; go to page 215, left bottom)
By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
D. Appleton-Century Co.
1935. 293 pages.
[Full review] Unfortunate lady found dead in her Phila. apartment after wild party. American "J. G. Reeder," name of Twombley, called in by D.A. - Miss Sloan was poisoned. Other occasional deaths prop up interest in Twombley's plodding among the too gay, too rich suspects. - Verdict: O.K. for t.b.m. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 27, 1935)
By Sidney Clark Williams (1878-1949).
Dodd, Mead, & Co.
1936. 248 pages.
A check on a bank in Massachusetts, the print of a heel in the soot-crusted snow in an alley, offer the only clues for detective Jabez Twombley to unravel the murder plot that linked the lives of three widely separated people. — WorldCat summary
[Full review] Reporter, city editor, and woman jabbed with aconite. Jabez Twombley bumbles through case. - There are murders, there's a detective, and sleuthing of a sort, but the solution is in the stratosphere. - Verdict: Very puzzling. — "The Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 4, 1936)

Category: Detective fiction

No comments:

Post a Comment