Friday, March 30, 2018

C. Auguste Who?

THIS IS THE first that we've heard of this—and bear in mind that since the whole thing is based on an anonymous letter, it could well be a hoax or simply a mistake.

"Dupin, C. Auguste."
Entry (half-page) in Heroes and Heroines of Fiction (1915), edited by William S. Walsh.
Online at (HERE).

Conan Doyle readily admitted that he was inspired by Poe's character, but who inspired Dupin? This article claims to know:
   "Dupin, C. Auguste, an amateur detective introduced into three of Poe's tales—The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter—in all of which he is represented as rendering important services to the Parisian police by unravelling apparently insoluble mysteries.
   "According to a letter published (1879) in the New York World and signed F.D.C., the character was drawn after a real person, one C. Auguste Dupont, a man of acute analytical powers, who was frequently called in to aid the police in the manner Poe describes.
   "The Murders in the Rue Morgue, indeed, is very largely founded upon facts, which F.D.C. claims to have supplied to Poe, having learned them from Dupont himself, with whom he was very closely associated during a sojourn of seven years in Paris. 'Dupont,' he adds, 'merely laughed when he saw his name disguised in Charles Baudelaire's translation, nor had he ever taken offence at the liberty I had taken in sending to Poe the true facts of the solution of the mystery—facts which in their results were, of course, well known to the police authorities, although not in their details. Dupont had done more work for the police that ever came to Poe's knowledge: if Poe had not used the name under so thin a disguise he might have learned more, and perhaps would have written better and more astounding and analytical tales.'"

- Every source we have come across gives Poe's "inspiration" for Dupin to someone else:
  "Poe may have gotten the last name 'Dupin' from a character in a series of stories first published Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in 1828 called 'Unpublished passages in the Life of Vidocq, the French Minister of Police.'

The name also implies 'duping' or deception, a skill Dupin shows off in 'The Purloined Letter.' Detective fiction, however, had no real precedent and the word detective had not yet been coined when Poe first introduced Dupin."
   — "C. Auguste Dupin," Wikipedia (HERE)

- We discovered practically from the beginning of this weblog that it is impossible for anyone who appreciates the mystery story to ignore Edgar Allan Poe, our latest brush with him being (HERE); in one of our earliest posts we highlighted Hillary Waugh's appraisal of the contribu-tions which the Raven made to detective fiction (HERE)—and the one aspect of the form that Poe missed.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Somebody's Trying to Lie Out of This"

"Murder in Silhouette."
By Wade Wells (Manly Wade Wellman, 1903-86).
Written in 1933 and rejected for publication (see HERE).
First appearance as re-written: Risque Stories No. 4, October 1986.
Reprinted as originally written in Pulp Magazine No. 1, March 1989.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at (HERE).

"If you're really in danger, you're an awful fool to take chances showing up against a lighted window."
A simple bodyguard job quickly escalates to murder when Jess Datchett is hired to protect two men and a woman from threatened retaliation for some sleazy home movies—at least, that's what he's been told; the truth, though, is a bit more complicated . . .

~ Jess Datchett:

  "Fifty dollars, in advance."
~ Ray Tyrone:
  "Ray used to be top cameraman for Nonpareil Pictures out Hollywood way."
~ Joe Beard:
  "I fit in all right. I'm Ray's partner, ain't I, Ray?"
~ Minna Gordon:
  "She was a featured player before our marriage."

Typos: "He liquor"; "to do to job".

- The name of Manly Wade Wellman is legendary for his fantasy fiction, so hardboiled "Murder in Silhouette" is something of a departure for him; there's plenty of information about our author on Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and the IMDb (HERE and HERE).
- It has been well over two years since we last encountered Wellman and his patriotic
wartime tribute "But Our Hero Was Not Dead" (HERE).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Names Make News but Sometimes It Isn't Healthy to Print Them"

By Will F. Jenkins (1896-1975).
First appearance: Cosmopolitan, June 1939.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at starting (HERE) and concluding (HERE).
(Parental caution: Strong language.)

"He jammed the paper into his pocket, headline down. That was lucky, though he didn't know it."
During the heyday of organized crime, getting the real dope on gangsters very often depended on informers; as he heads for a late dinner with his girl, newspaperman
Hub Stone doesn't realize it, but if the bad guys were to learn what he already knows,
the public could soon be reading his obit stitched together on a Chicago Typewriter . . .

~ Hub Stone:

  He's a high-pressure newspaper crime reporter.
~ Peggy:
  She's getting cold feet.
~ Braden:
  He's closing in on the Mob.
~ Rubano and Slim Gary:
  These are not nice people, but one of them does feel like talking.
~ Nick Papadoulos:
  He's especially not nice.
~ Squint:
  "Nix! It's straight. Bring a cop wit' you. Bring a couple."

- Our story takes place when rival mobsters didn't mind bumping each other off with bullet-spraying shootouts on public streets—nowadays, not so often; see the Wikipedia articles on "Crime in the United States" (HERE), "Gangsters—United States and Canada" (HERE), and the list of American criminal organizations (HERE).
- Because so much of what we cover on ONTOS comes from the pulps, it's no wonder
we keep bumping into uberpulpster Will Jenkins, who often went by the nom de plume
of Murray Leinster; for more of his work go (HERE).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Now, Lo and Behold, the Perfect Crime Had Been Committed and He, of All Men Alive, Was the Man Who Had Committed It"

"The Masterpiece."
By Irvin Cobb (1876-1944).
First appearance: Cosmopolitan, October 1930.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at starting (HERE) and concluding (HERE).

"Possession of her—that was what his whole being demanded, and since a heap of good hard Yankee dollars was the price he must pay for his season in a lover's paradise, why, so be it."
Play now, pay later—and pay, and pay, and . . .

Dramatis personae:
~ Mrs. Olivia Thames:
  "Besides being a woman who still kept, embedded in unwholesome bloat, some few traces of a beauty which once had made her notorious, this Thames woman was at least four other things: namely, a former actress, a frequent divorcee, a habitual souse and a reputed hop-head."
~ Wally Staggner:
  "Either I'm going crazy, or else the whole world's gone crazy around me."
~ Solly Lennix:
  "It was a typical Solly Lennix dinner—persons who were smartly polished and persons who merely were shiny with the thin shellac of a sudden affluence."
~ "Mrs. Solly":
  "Mama's off to Shut-eye Town. Trust little Fannix Fix-it, the Camp-fire Girl."
~ Glosscup:
  ". . . it would seem, was by way of being an amateur detective. For he dropped down on his knees and was closely eyeing the ruined wrist watch; next was applying his ear close to it."
~ The policeman:
  "Well, did you kill her here and keep her hid all this time, or did you just fetch her here so as to give me a treat?"
~ Siggy Gottschalk:
  "Siggy's masterpiece was Siggy's meal ticket now, and from now on."
- Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was a notable literary presence in his day; you can read all about him in Wikipedia (HERE).
- Cobb mentions the Eden Musée (HERE and HERE) and the Gallery of Famous Criminals at Huber's (HERE).
- Because we've dealt with the perfect crime so often, we'll offer up just a short list of postings about it: (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE),
(HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).

The bottom line: "Murder is murder, as much a curse to the slayer as to the slain, and cannot be a matter of indifference, whoever the dead may be."
Edith Pargeter


Monday, March 26, 2018

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Twenty-six

NOW AND THEN everybody gets a tinge of nostalgia for the good old days (even if, when
you think about it, the good old days were pretty bad). Such was the case over a hundred
years ago when literary critic, keen mystery fan, and sometime crime fiction author
Edmund Pearson waxed nostalgic for the books of his youth . . .

"Vanishing Favorites."
By Edmund Pearson (1880-1937).
From The Librarian at Play (1911; online HERE).
Chapter online at Project Gutenberg (HERE; HTML;

you might need two tries to get to that page).
Long before Christie, Sayers, Allingham, Carr, and the rest exploited to the full the character dynamic between the family servant and the bad guy (and especially the nationality of the latter), Pearson was calling our attention to how they were hoary cliches even in his day—
and having some fun doing it.
   "Along with the family ghost disappeared the faithful old family servant. He was usually a man, and he looked like E. S. Willard as Cyrus Blenkarn. He dressed in snuff-colored clothes, and he bent over, swaying from side to side like a polar-bear in a cage. He rubbed his hands. But he was very devoted to the young mistress.
E. S. Willard (left) as Cyrus Blenkarn.
   "Lor' bless yer, Sir, he knew her mother, he did, when she was only that high. Carried her in his arms when she was a little babby. But he is afraid something is going wrong with the old place. He doesn't like the looks of things, nohow.
   "With the superhuman instinct granted to servants, but denied to their superiors, he has become suspicious of the villain on sight. It is lucky that

no one believes the old servant, or they would pitch out the villain then
and there, and the story would come to an end at Chapter II.
   "The utter chaos into which villains have fallen has been a cause for regretful comment for years past. Long ago it was pointed out that villains no longer employ direct and honorable methods like murder and assault. The sum of their criminal activities is a stock-market operation that ruins the hero.
   "Things have gone from bad to worse.

  "Now you cannot tell which is the villain and which the hero. The old, simple days when the villain, as Mr. J. K. Jerome said, was immediately recognized by the fact that he smoked a cigarette, have long since passed away. Now, the villain and hero in Chapter I. have usually changed places two or three times by the end of the book.
   "Let no one think that this complaint is made because we regret losing our admiration for the hero. We never had any. He was always such a chuckle-headed ninny that you longed to throw rocks at him from the start.

   "The lamentable thing is to see the villain falling steadily away from the paths of vice and crime, and taking up with one virtuous practice after another.
   "Meanwhile, the hero is making feeble efforts at villainy, which result, of course, in complete failure. You cannot learn to be a villain at Chapter XXIV.

It is too late. Villains, like poets, are born, not made, and in the older books the faithful servant could tell you that the villain was bad from the cradle. Hereditary influence and unremitting attention to business are as necessary
in the villain trade as in any other.
   "There is one other phase of the making of villains which deserves consid-eration. That is, their nationality.
   "Once you had only to know that the man who appeared at Chapter III., twirling his moustache and making polite speeches, was a French count or a Russian prince, to be sure that on him would fall the responsible post of chief villain during the rest of the story.

   "If the novel were written in America, an English lord could be added to the list. The titled foreigner, whatever he might be, was expected to try to elope with the heroine, for the sake of her money. The hero baffled him finally, and seized the opportunity, at the moment of bafflement, to deliver a few patriotic sentences on the general superiority of republican institutions.
   "This is all changed. We have had novels and plays with virtuous, even admirable, English lords. Once or twice members of the French nobility have appeared in another capacity than that of advance agent of wickedness. It is time to call a halt, or the first thing we know someone will write a book with

a virtuous Russian prince in it.
   "The line must be drawn somewhere. The mission of Russia in English literature is to furnish tall, smooth, diabolical persons, devoted to vodka, absinthe, oppression of the peasantry, cultivation of a black beard, and general cussedness. We foresee that the novelists will soon have to draw
upon Japan for their villains. Much ought to be made of a small, oily,
smiling Oriental, who is nursing horrid plots beneath a courteous exterior.
   "At the time of the first performances of Mr. Moody's play 'The Great Divide,' it was pleasant to see that a sense of fitness in the nationality of villains had not entirely died out. It may be remembered that the first act represents an American man joining with a Mexican and a nondescript in an atrocious criminal enterprise. At least one newspaper had the sturdy patriotism to
call the dramatist to account for insinuating that an American could possibly do such a thing.
   "'Furriners,' perhaps, but Americans, never! Shame on you, Mr. Moody!"

- Off and on over the past five-and-a-half years we've come into contact with Edmund Lester Pearson's work, once in regard to Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Edwin Drood; see (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).

Friday, March 23, 2018

"Strikes Me Both of Those Birds Have Skeletons in Their Mental Closets"

"The Monolith Hotel Mystery."
By Lloyd Lonergan (1870-1937).
First appearance: The Black Mask, August 1922.
Reprinted in Black Mask (U.K.), January 1929.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"A detective who falls down as bad as you have done ought to jump into the river."
The discovery of that body in Suite 817 seems to have a fairly straightforward solution, but it isn't long before several other tantalizingly plausible suspects suddenly start popping up; too many cooks, they say, spoil the broth, and while this case seems to have too many people trying to serve up a conviction, what's really needed is a detective who knows how to, well, detect . . .

~ Daniel Henderson, the little man in a hurry:
  "Don't bother about the change. Give it to the bellboys."
~ Pennington Wilson, the room clerk:
  "Just now he ran down, checked out in a tearing hurry, with some silly story about having to go to Brooklyn. Nobody in Brooklyn is awake at this hour of the night."

~ Spencer, the house detective:
  "You'll get the gravy, all right, for I'm going to put you wise to a line of stuff that you must seem to find out for yourself. Get me?"

~ Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, the corpus delicti:
  "On the floor was the body of a well-dressed young woman, and a bullet wound in the side of her head showed clearly the cause of death."

~ Kenneth Johnson, the grieving husband:
  ". . . his wife was taking a nap and he didn't want to annoy her. That's his story. But, if Mrs. Johnson was taking a nap, why did she have on her hat when the body was found?"

~ Marty O'Donohue, "a Headquarters sleuth":
  "Call up the precinct, Spencer. It's their job. Good-night."

~ "Big Jim" Mahoney, police captain:
  "Desmond, there's some tall explaining coming from you. Headquarters has put it all over us on this case, and is giving us the merry laugh. What have you done? Nothing!"

~ Desmond, West Forty-seventh Street detective:
  "The murderer is now resting in one of our best little cells, and we have all night to chat with him, for we don't need to take him to court until the morning."

~ The District Attorney:
  "To tell the truth, it looks to me as if all of these three men are guilty, but it is also equally clear that if one of them is the murderer, the others are innocent."

~ James Dineen, Inspector of Detectives:
  "In the meantime I'll get everybody busy and see what we can dig up."

~ Tom Halloran, retired police captain:
  "Your worries are over on that particular case. This bright young nephew of mine has cleaned it up."

~ Neil Mooney, "a real, honest-to-God detective":
  "Of course this was only an idea of mine, based on the assumption that all three men under arrest had told absolutely true stories."

~ Nora Riley, "the girl":
  ". . . the whole bunch were out-classed by one little Irish chambermaid and one big Irish policeman."

- FictionMags credits Lloyd F. Lonergan with eight stories in Black Mask (1921-22) and three in Mystery Magazine (1923)—after that, silence; also, we're assuming that the entries in Wikipedia (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE) apply to our author.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"It Must Be a Great Consolation to You to Reflect That My Action, While Morally Reprehensible, Does Not Constitute Murder"

"The Mallinson Case."
By K. H. Hartley (?-?).
First appearance: Worlds of Tomorrow #24, Summer 1970.
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Text is faded.)

"Never again will that same individual go about in the world—he has forever been subtracted from the human sum."
In today's legal system, there seems to be a conscious effort to make the punishment fit the crime; in the case of the Crown v. Commander Mallinson of the Survey Service, however, the question is: Does the crime fit the punishment? . . .

Comment: The basic premise of this story was also the basis of a Babylon 5 episode (HERE) twenty-five years later.
- Our story is the only one credited to K. H. Hartley, whoever he or she is or was (HERE).

The bottom line: "It was wrong. It was like arresting the gun for murder."
The Player on the Other Side


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Already It Was No More Than a Puddle of Heavy Mist, Warping in Slow Tendrils Out the Slightly Open Window to Mingle with the Fog"

THE ORIGINAL BERSERKER, according to an online dictionary, was "an ancient Norse warrior who fought in a wild frenzy." SFF author Fred Saberhagen took that basic notion
and, as Wikipedia notes (HERE), built "a series of space opera science fiction short stories and novels in which robotic self-replicating machines strive to destroy all life"—stories like this one, which features a couple of famous characters you might recognize . . .

"Metal Murderer."
By Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007).
First appearance: Omni, January 1980 as "Adventure of the Metal Murderer."
Reprinted many times since (HERE).
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at Baen Books (HERE: HTML).

"The temple of Earth's safety had been horribly profaned."
If you bear in mind the story's locale ("within one hundred kilometers of fifty-one degrees, eleven minutes north latitude; zero degrees, seven minutes west longitude"), you might be able to anticipate some of what's about to happen—but probably not all of it . . .
- The late Fred Saberhagen and his Berserker Saga were and still are quite popular; for plenty of information about them both see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and a homepage (HERE).

- The chess-playing automaton in our story was doubtless inspired by the infamous one that was the subject of an exposé by Edgar Allan Poe (HERE) and (HERE).

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"So We Just Had to Page the Murderer—and He Comes with All the Evidence!"

"Page the Murderer."
By C. K. M. Scanlon (housename).
First appearance: Popular Detective, April 1937.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at PulpGen (HERE).

"Years Pass and the Ways of Men Part – But the Hideous Poison of Vengeance Remains Alive!"
Sometimes all you have to do to catch a killer is to call out his name . . .

- The Pulp Wiki briefly discusses our author's alias (HERE)

Monday, March 19, 2018

"They Were His First Burglars, and They Rather Shocked His Preconceived Notions of the Type"

"Mr. Penfound's Two Burglars."
By E. A. Bennett (Arnold Bennett, 1867-1931).
First appearance: The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, December 1899.
Short short story (6 pages, 4 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

"You go and take yer tale and yer pistols and yer bloomin' burglars somewhere else. 'Ear?"
Like millions of other citizens from the beginning of time who've been victimized by criminals, Mr. Penfound will come to wonder: Where's a cop when you need one?
- For information about London's coffee-stalls at the time of our story, see the late Dr. Bruce Rosen's article on the Victorian History website (HERE):
   "The Victorians were 'fast food' consumers, but what they ate
came largely from individual purveyors on the streets of London
and the other large cities. Food and drink was readily available
at all hours of the day and night, purchased from individual
entrepreneurs. . . . For those who were either up late or rose
early there were the coffee stalls.  Some opened as early as
midnight, while others did not start trading until three or four
in the morning. The former appealed to 'night-walkers—fast
gentlemen and loose girls' while those that opened in the
morning were more likely to be patronized by working men."
- We last met up with Arnold Bennett this past January (HERE).

Friday, March 16, 2018

"If Anybody'd Murdered 'im, 'ow Could 'e Possibly 'ave Left the Train?"

YESTERDAY Fred White spun out the tale of an apparently impossible crime involving murder and robbery aboard a moving train; today he goes one step further with a story of murder, robbery, and blackmail aboard the Northern Express . . .

"One Foggy Night."
By Fred M. White (1859-1935).
First appearance: The Windsor Magazine, May 1916.
Short story (17 pages as a PDF).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HERE).

"I did it, right enough, and I don't know that I regret it, either."
Superficially, every bit of evidence would seem to point to suicide as explaining the death of a reclusive London businessman aboard the Northern Express en route to Newcastle—until the case is taken up by a wily Scotland Yard inspector who understands the victim's psychology, the significance of a torn sheet of white paper at the crime scene, the fog, railway tunnel repairs, an empty safe, and the numbers 18975. "There are," he assures us, "no trivial details in our business."

The cast:
~ Joe, the ticket collector:
  ". . . there's a passenger all by 'imself in a first-class carriage dahn there, and 'e's dead. Looks to me as if 'e'd bin murdered."
~ The guard:
  "Murdered be hanged! That's impossible. Why, the train 'asn't stopped since we left London, an' there wasn't no murdered man in the train then, I'll take my oath."
~ Jabez Thornton, the dearly departed:
  "He was a man who lived by line and rule, with one object in life, and that the piling up of money. His business as a money-lender appeared to be somewhat extensive, but that branch of the concern had been carried on entirely by the dead man at his cottage, through the medium of the post office."
~ Inspector Thomas Fadden:
  "To the ordinary eye the carriage conveyed nothing. Fadden, however, examined it with the greatest care, especially the woodwork on the inside frame of the windows, and, when he had finished, he smiled with the air of a man who feels that he has not been wasting his time."
~ Mary Gaylord:
  ". . . a little, faded woman with a very white and pathetic face, that must have been pretty and attractive before care and trouble had aged it so terribly. The woman's eyes had a suggestion of fear in them as she stood before Fadden in a neat little sitting-room, waiting for him to speak."
~ Richard Gaylord:
  "The man was bloodshot as to his eyes, and unshaven, and obviously had not yet recovered from what he himself would term 'a thick night'."
A clew.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"There Are Limits, Of Course, Both to a Novelist's Imagination and a Clever Thief's Process of Invention"

"The Night Express: The Story of a Bank Robbery."
By Fred M. White (1859-1935).
First appearance: Golden Stories: A Selection of the Best Fiction by the Foremost Writers (1909).
Novelette (23 pages as a PDF).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HERE: HTML).

(Artwork by BelleDeese.)
"There was a hole with something horribly red and slimy oozing from it."
After a man is murdered and eight thousand pounds of bullion, along with the killer, vanish from a train that never goes below fifty miles per hour, there seems to be no possible way it could have been done—but a smart detective, playing a long shot ("the most amazing piece of luck I have ever had"), nets, you could say, the guilty bird before he takes wing . . .

~ Mr. George Skidmore:
  ". . . of the Imperial Bank, had his share of ordinary courage, but he had an imagination, too, and he particularly disliked these periodical trips to branch banks, in convoy, so to speak. He took no risks."
~ Catesby:
  "Two of the carriages in the coach are quite full, as you see, and the other two are reserved. As a matter of fact, my lord, we are taking a body down to Lydmouth. Gentleman who is going to be buried there. And the other carriage is for the Imperial Bank of Scotland. Cashier going up north with specie, you understand."
(Artwork by Philip D. Hawkins.)
~ Joseph Bianca:
  ". . . a matter the most inexplicable. I gave him up. From the very first I gave him up. If the guard Catesby was not the guilty person, then I admit I have no theory."
~ "a laborer in a roadside public house":
  "Thousands and thousands of duck and teel and widgeon they catches at this time of year. There's miles of nets along the road—great big nets like fowl runs."
~ Inspector Merrick:
  ". . . he was after what looked like a million to one chance. But then Merrick was a detective with an imagination, which was one of the reasons why he had been appointed to the job. It was essentially a case for the theoretical man. It baffled all the established rules of the game."
- The sensational Percy Lefroy Mapleton railway murder case of 1881 (HERE and HERE) gets a mention in our story. (Note: As far as we can determine, the town of Lydmouth is an invention of the author; there is, however, a Lynmouth in the same general vicinity.)
- There's more than just a passing resemblance between this railway crime and the Great Gold Robbery of 1855; see Wikipedia for more background on the actual event (HERE) and the 1978 film made about it (HERE; SPOILERS).
- It has been well over a year since we last encountered Fred Merrick (just like the Inspector!) White with his story about a multi-talented policeman (HERE).

The bottom line: "The great green and gold serpent with the brilliant electric eyes fought its way sinuously into the throat of the wet and riotous night."
  — From our story


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

". . . Even Ten Seconds Can Mean a Great Deal . . ."

"10 Seconds from Nowhere."
By David Wright O'Brien (1918-44).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, July 1941.
Reprinted in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter 1941.
Short short story (8 pages as a PDF).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HERE: HTML and HERE: EPUB) and (HERE).
(Parental caution: Some strong language.)

"Keep your bungling paws off that machine!"
It's like what that guy in a movie once said: "Don't fool around with something when you don't know what it is."
- If he hadn't been killed in combat, David Wright O'Brien would have been a major voice in SFF in the post-war era.

- Repetition is one thing, but time loops can be a real nightmare; see Wikipedia (HERE)
and (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the Edge interview with physicist Paul Davies (HERE),
and (we couldn't resist) TV Tropes (HERE).
- Our last visit with O'Brien was just over a week ago (HERE).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fitzgerald's First Felonious Fledgling Flight

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD is justly famous for The Great Gatsby (1925) and his other stories of the Jazz Age, but few know that he also wrote fantasies such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (online HERE) and even some crime fiction; indeed, his first published story, dealing with murder, is the one we've featured below:

"The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage."
By F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940).
First appearance: Now and Then (St. Paul Academy), October 1909.
Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March 1960 and Ellery Queen's Mystery Annual #15 (1960).
Collected in The Apprentice Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1965).
Short short story (6 pages as a PDF).
Online at Famous (and Forgotten) Fiction (HERE) (HTML).
Be kind to our author; he was, after all, only a teenager at the time . . .
- It's hard not to find information about Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald on the Interweb: Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and the IMDb (HERE).
- Bob Gay at Famous (and Forgotten) Fiction does a good job of characterizing our story:
   "Scott was only 13 years old at the time of its writing and the fledgling
effort shows the influence of the popular mystery writers of the time,
including Doyle and Poe. The story itself contains some of the stylistic
traits that Fitzgerald would use in his later writings, but, although the
work shows youthful enthusiasm, and a good premise, the tale itself
is a mere curiosity due to numerous plot holes and the inconclusiveness
of the ending—reading in many ways like the rough outline for a longer

Monday, March 12, 2018

"You Don't Mean to Tell Me That You Drench That Rag with Chloroform and Put It Over People's Faces?"

"The Escaping Burglar."
By Don Marquis (1878-1937).
First appearance: Collier's, May 12, 1928.
Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 1954, as "The Iron Hand in the Velvet Glove."
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at UNZ starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE; scroll down to page 58).
"You can't smoke cigarettes in bed, any more than you can eat crackers, without unpleasant results."
A burglar should always be careful about whom he intends to burgle—very careful . . . very, very careful . . .
~ ~ ~
"An Old Charge."
By Don Marquis (1878-1937).
First appearance: Collier's, August 4, 1928.
Reprinted in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1983.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at UNZ starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE).

"Who would have thought the bum was worth $60,000 in his stocking feet?"
We're always telling ourselves that we'll do better, that if we can just get that lucky break life will be different; for Malkin, it's practically a prayer—and when, at long last, that chance does come along, the only things standing between him and a better life are a drunken bum and a gun . . .

- Wikipedia has more about the life of Donald Robert Perry Marquis (HERE), who had the distinction of having a ship of the United States Navy to be named for him (HERE).