Friday, October 5, 2018

"He Looks More Like a Pickpocket Than a Burglar"

"The Unwilling Burglar."
By E. R. Punshon (1872-1956).

Illustrations by Will Owen (1869-1957).
First appearance: The London Magazine, April 1903.
Short short story (6 pages, 3 illos).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE).

     "Matey, don't yer reckon as when yer was a-makin' love to that there cook, you might 'ave found out about that, too?"

As Mr. Tompkyns will soon learn, teaching somebody a lesson, even if it's for their own good, is, like all human endeavor, subject to Murphy's Law . . .

Comment: Here we see a fine detective fiction writer at the very beginning of his career; by all accounts, he vastly improved with time.

~ Mr. William Tompkyns:

  "You must remember, Mollie, and you, too, my dear, that this house is particularly open to attack. Not only are you two women left alone in the house until my late return, but there is my collection of coins."
~ Mrs. Jane Tompkyns:
  "Really, William, I do wish you would not have such horrible ideas."
~ Mollie Tompkyns:
  "I do not think myself that the coin collection would attract the average burglar. He is not, as a rule, possessed of numismatic tastes."
~ The average burglar:
  "It's a ten year stretch, mate. You take my tip and try to get sent to Parkhurst. Portland's just 'orrid."
~ The sergeant:
  ". . . he's done time before, but not the other."

- FictionMags about Ernest Robertson Punshon: "Born in London." Although Punshon wrote some short stories, he's better known for three dozen novels featuring policeman Bobby Owen, which are just now seeing republication after years of neglect; go to the GAD Wiki (HERE) and Mike Grost's Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection (HERE) for plenty of additional information. You might also seek out Curtis Evans's articles that focus on or touch upon Punshon's detective fiction (HERE).

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