Friday, August 31, 2018

"He Unwittingly Seemed to Have Brought Danger Down Upon His Own Head"

"Murder Wears a Muffler."
By Giff Cheshire (1905-?).
First appearance: Short Stories, April 10, 1948.
Reprinted in Short Stories (Canada), September 1948.
Short story (14 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "You run quite an organization. Hard-looking mugs—beautiful dames—swanky little tuck-aways. What's it all about?"

At first it looks like a simple holdup that's escalated to a panicked killing, but Andy Bow senses there's more to it than that; eventually it'll come down to discrediting a dead man, earning the ire of the deceased's girlfriend; trying to deceive a closed circle of cold-blooded killers; and, most puzzling of all, figuring out how this vicious coterie manages to make a string of murders look like accidents . . .

World War II honorable discharge button.
- When FictionMags describes Gifford Paul Cheshire as a "prolific writer of westerns," they're not kidding.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"I Was Willing to Sacrifice My Life for the Sake of Science"

"Blood Will Tell."
By George Ethelbert Walsh (1865-1941).
First appearance: The Argosy, April 1899.
Short short story (9 pages).
Online at Pulpgen (HERE).

     "The mystery surrounding the murder of the postmaster at Piketown, and the unexpected fashion in which it was cleared up—The village doctor and the part played by his blood sampling theories."

If you want to know everything about a murder, there's no better source than the murderer himself . . .

Comment: We wouldn't be surprised if Robert Louis Stevenson's account of the tragedy of a certain doctor (HERE) was a strong influence on the development of this story's plot.

- FictionMags tells us about our author: "Born in Brooklyn." We can infer from his book and story titles list (Bumper, the White Rabbit; Washer, the Raccoon; Scavengers of the Sea, etc.) that, while he focused on outdoor adventure fiction (see HERE) and other nonfiction (HERE), Walsh weaved in and out of the various genres from the late 1880s to the early 1930s. [FictionMags data.]
- A concise overview article about blood is on Wikipedia (HERE).
- While the idea that criminality originates in the blood is an ages-old superstition that's never been scientifically proven, on a more positive note, in South Korea and Japan your blood type could earn you a hot date (HERE).

Monday, August 27, 2018

"You Had Motive and Opportunity, and Stand to Gain by the Murder"

"Nicky and the Tin Finger."
By John D. MacDonald (1916-86).
Illustrations by Charles Chickering (1891-1970).
First appearance: The Blue Book Magazine, September 1948.
Short short story (6 pages, 5 illos).
Online at (HERE).

     "A robot detective? Yes sir! And something very special, both as a robot and a detective."

Whenever things really go wrong in life, crackpots and oddballs automatically become objects of suspicion, so when a would-be vending-machine monopolist gets himself unceremoniously launched towards that big pinball parlor in the sky, it seems obvious 
to the community at large that the reclusive local tinkerer, himself the deceased's stiffest competitor, must have had something to do with it—more likely, in their minds, everything 
to do with it . . .

~ Big George Loke:
  ". . . was extremely dead. Big George had endeared himself by passing out little favors from time to time, and the majority of the people of Udella were unhappy to see the source of the little presents stopped so suddenly, and they were more than a bit annoyed with Nicky Lugan and began to scream for his scalp."

~ Nicky Lugan:
  "He is a little round man with the expression of a young owl who has found out that life can be beautiful. And a natural tinkerer!"

~ Kopal:
  ". . . on the city desk, wasted no time in shooing me off to interview Nicky when it became evident that a tinkerer had done the dirty to Big George Loke."

~ Moe:
  "I have never been able to break myself of the habit of nodding at Moe when Nicky intro-duces me to him. Moe is the only robot in Udella."

~ Barney:
  "This—this extroverted metallic personality is going to find out who rubbed out Big George?"

- Previous encounters with John Dann MacDonald on this weblog can be found (HERE) and (HERE), while run-ins with robots as detectives and perps are (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).


Friday, August 24, 2018

"Now You Shall Pay a Much Higher Price"

"The Several Murders of Roger Ackroyd."
By Barry Malzberg (born 1939).

First appearance: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, 
Winter 1977.
Reprinted in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Anthology, 
Volume 1 (1979), as well as (THESE).
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "But now a wind is rising. It is time for the mysterists to return to their original and honored place."

The trouble with bureaucrats isn't that they're bureaucrats; the trouble is they enjoy being bureaucrats . . .

- Prolific is the word for Barry Nathaniel Malzberg; see (HERE; Wikipedia), (HERE; the SFE), and (HERE; the ISFDb bibliography) for more.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"A Cameo Ring, Cream Ground, with a Woman's Head in White Relief, of Sixteenth Century Italian Workmanship"

"Pugh's Poisoned Ring."
By Richard Marsh (Richard Bernard Heldmann, 1857-1915).
Illustrations by B. E. Minns.
First appearance: The London Magazine, October 1900.
Short story (11 pages, 6 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

     "I thought I'd call and tell you, because"—what he meant for a smile grew more pronounced—"that ring is possessed of peculiar properties."

Mr. Tress, a rabid collector of oddities, discovers to his peril that rabidly collecting items without being careful of their origin can not only be a pain, it could also prove fatal . . .
- Richard Marsh could take a piece of exotica and spin a story around it. From Wikipedia:
   "He also published serial short stories, developing characters whose adventures could be related in discrete stories in numerous editions of a magazine. Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress of Curios: Some Strange Adventures of Two Bachelors [1898; Valancourt Books reprint HERE and HERE; reviews HERE] are rival collectors between whom pass a series of bizarre and discomfiting objects—poisoned rings, pipes which seem to come to life, a phonograph record on which a murdered woman seems to speak from the dead, and the severed hand of a 13th-century aristocrat."

~ ~ ~
RICHARD MARSH HAD several series characters, including an unusual sleuth whom he featured in stories running from 1911 to 1915 in The Strand and other magazines (collection HERE); Wikipedia again:
   "One of Marsh’s most striking creations is Miss Judith Lee, a young teacher of deaf pupils whose lip-reading ability involves her with mysteries that she solves by acting as a detective."
One of the Judith Lee stories, "The Man Who Cut Off My Hair" (1911), saw reprinting in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (AHMM) thirty years ago. (Data from FictionMags.)

Here is a link to Judith's introductory story—plus a few more; perhaps, after reading these, you might find the character as charming as contemporary readers seem to have:

(1) "The Man Who Cut Off My Hair."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by W. R. S. Stott (1878-1939; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, August 1911.
Reprint: AHMM, July 1988.
Short story (10 pages, 4 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

     "A new detective method is such a rare thing that it is with unusual pleasure we introduce our readers to Judith Lee, the fortunate possessor of a gift which gives her a place apart in detective fiction. Mr. Marsh's heroine is one whose fortunes, we predict with confidence, will be followed with the greatest interest from month to month."
~ ~ ~
(2) "Eavesdropping at Interlaken."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by J. R. Skelton (1865-1927; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, October 1911.
Short story (13 pages, 3 illos).

Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

~ ~ ~
(3) "Conscience."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by J. R. Skelton (1865-1927; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, November 1911.
Short story (12 pages,  5 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

~ ~ ~
(4) "Matched."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by J. R. Skelton (1865-1927; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, December 1911.
Short story (12 pages, 4 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

~ ~ ~
(5) "The Miracle."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by J. R. Skelton (1865-1927; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, January 1912.
Short story (14 pages, 5 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

~ ~ ~
(6) "Auld Lang Syne."
By Richard Marsh (1857-1915).
Illustrations by J. R. Skelton (1865-1927; HERE).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, February 1912.
Short story (11 pages, 3 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

. . . which is immediately followed by this non-fiction article:

"Lip-Reading: The Art of Judith Lee."
By C. Sibley Haycock.
Article (6 pages, illustrated).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE); Wikipedia (HERE).
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We also found two other of Marsh's criminous stories, both sharing the theme of burglary, in one of his collections, Frivolities, Especially Addressed to Those Who Are Tired of Being Serious (1899):

"The Burglar's Blunder."
First appearance: Unknown.
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

(Note: Two clicks may be necessary to get to this item.)
     "The principal cause of failure is that you are too subjective. You have quite one of the most subjective organisations I have yet encountered. The ideal criminal must keep himself abreast with the advance of science."

~ ~ ~
"A Burglar Alarm."
First appearance: The Grand Magazine of Fiction, November 1908.
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
(Note: Two clicks may be necessary to get to this item.)

    "I am of a plethoric habit, and by the time I had done all the stooping which Leila thought was indispensable if the burglar alarm was to be all that a burglar alarm ought to be, I was, I am convinced, within a measurable distance of apoplexy."


Monday, August 20, 2018

"I Really Had to Exercise My Brain More Than Common Before I Hit Upon What I May Now Consider the Only Perfect Method of Handling Burglars"

"Our First Burglar."
By Ellis Parker Butler (1869-1937).
Illustrations by Irma Deremeaux.
First appearance: Everybody's Magazine, February 1909.
Reprinted in The Golden Book Magazine, July 1935.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

(Note: Be sure to hit the "Full Screen" button.)
     "I am sure there were only two reasons why I had never killed a burglar with a pistol: one was that no burglar had ever entered our flat, and the other was that I never had a pistol."

If you're going to baffle a burglar, then make sure he's as dumb as the proverbial post . . .

- There was a time when humorist Ellis Parker Butler enjoyed instant name recognition, right up there with Mark Twain. Prolific? FictionMags's short story listing for him runs over four pages—and this despite the fact that "Butler was, for most of his life, only a part-time author" (Wikipedia HERE). He had several series characters, one of whom was Jane Sprool, Detective (6 stories in The Green Book Magazine, 1919-20). (FictionMags data.)

- Jane Sprool notwithstanding, Butler's most famous character is Philo Gubb, The Correspondence School Deteckative (HERE; first collection HERE), who managed 
to make it to the (silent) silver screen: (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).