Monday, December 9, 2019

Stamped to Death

IN THE VACUUM created by the vanishment of new Sherlock Holmes stories from contemporary magazine publications, there was a rush on the part of detective fiction authors to fill that void with their own versions of the Sage of Baker Street, one of 
whom was Peter J. Clancy, the creation of established pulp author H. Bedford-Jones 
and possibly the only private detective who is/was also a practicing dentist. Clancy 
appeared in only eight adventures before Bedford-Jones moved on to Durant, his 
next series character.

~ ~ ~ Peter J. Clancy Mysteries ~ ~ ~

  (1) "The Case of Colette," Cassell’s Magazine, December 1925
      Reprinted in The Blue Book Magazine, April 1926 as "Clancy, Detective"
  (2) "Japanese Fans," Cassell’s Magazine, January 1926
      Reprinted in The Blue Book Magazine, May 1926
  (3) "The Cibourne Trail," Cassell’s Magazine, February 1926
      Reprinted in Blue Book, July 1926
  (4) "The Regency Bar," Cassell’s Magazine, March 1926
      Reprinted in The Blue Book Magazine, August 1926
  (5) "After Five Years," Cassell’s Magazine, April 1926
  (6) "Clancy, Detective," The Blue Book Magazine, April 1926 (below)
      Originally published in Cassell's Magazine, December 1925 as "The Case of Colette"
  (7) "The Trail of the Harp," Cassell’s Magazine, May 1926
      Reprinted in Blue Book, June 1926
  (8) "Five Years After," The Blue Book Magazine, September 1926.
(Note: All data are from The FictionMags Index, HERE.)

"Clancy, Detective."
By H. Bedford-Jones (1887-1949).
First appearance: The Blue Book Magazine, April 1926.

Collected in The H. Bedford-Jones Pulp Fiction Megapack: 20 Classic Tales by the King of the Pulps (2014; for sale HERE).

     "I'll give you a job—if you can tell me the difference between a Sydney View and a Saint Helena grilled."

On its surface, the murder of a stamp dealer in the Rue St. Honoré would seem to be a case of theft unintentionally escalating into a killing, and to all appearances that is how the police regard it; however, this apparently simple crime has far-reaching implications . . .

~ Colette, dealer in rare stamps, deceased:

  "I looked at the dead man. A small, swarthy, fat little chap, he had been one who dressed carefully for his business, with morning coat, starched front and cuffs—even a rosebud in 
his buttonhole. The left arm was stretched out away from the body. Under it, the coat had 
been pulled away, vest and underwear cut to permit examination of the wound. From the 
man’s immaculate appearance, I concluded he had been caught unawares. Whoever had 
looked at the wound had probably done the slight disarrangement visible—or so I thought."
~ Gersault, thief, and the obvious prime suspect:
  "The police have arrested a man named Gersault, of the Apache class, on the strength of his fingerprints."
~ Peter J. Clancy, D.D.S., of 33 Bis, Rue Cambon:
  "Gloves save prints, but they carry scent."
~ Jim Logan, initially a newspaperman but presently unemployed:

  "I went back to my lodgings, feeling that my first essay as a detective was not up to story-book style, by a long shot."
~ The Préfect:
  "'Most people are usually surprised by the efficiency of Paris police,' he returned, beaming on me."
~ The gendarme:
  ". . . not the usual agent, but the rarely seen gendarme, in all his glory . . ."

~ Phil Brady:
  "I know your friend Clancy—he doesn’t fool away time on nothing. If it’s politics, it may reach anywhere."
~ Georges Lebrun:
  ". . . was almost a dwarf in size, but his pride made up for lack of inches."
~ Jean Galtier:

  "Pale-haired, chalky of face, indeterminate, thin-lipped, a man of perhaps 
thirty-five, Galtier looked no man to be the lover of a fashionable beauty. I 
understood that these women reduced their lovers to a platonic state, how-
ever, making them fetch and carry more like dogs than men. For such a 
part, it struck me, this Galtier would be an ideal subject."
~ Levallois:
  "You now have the set complete?"
~ Madame de Lautenac:
  ". . . never have I seen anything more swift and shocking than the change in Madame de Lautenac. One moment proudly beautiful, the next she was shrinking in stark terror."
~ the Marquise d’Auteuil:
  ". . . my eyes went to the diamond-studded object on her corsage—a tiny stiletto, an 

ancient bit of gold-work. Its hilt would have meant a year’s income to me. Small as it 
was, it was large enough to let out a man’s life."

First sentence:
   "Half a second more, and the truck would have backed the little old man out of existence."
Final sentence:
   "Phil Brady did not get much of a story out of it, after all."

References and resources:
 Several of the many rare stamps mentioned in the story: "a pair of the Niger Coast one-pound surcharge" (Dead Country Stamps and Banknotes HERE); "the Mauritius 'post-office' stamp" (Wikipedia HERE); "the unique Guiana rarity" (Wikipedia HERE).

~ "a man named Gersault, of the Apache class": A violent group broken up, ironically enough, by the First World War: "Les Apaches was a Parisian Belle Époque violent criminal under-world subculture of early 20th-century hooligans, night muggers, street gangs and other criminals." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "stroking his gray imperial": A moustache style: "Imperial – whiskers growing from 
both the upper lip and cheeks, curled upward (distinct from the royale, or impériale)." 
Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "a base hospital on the Moroccan front": At the time of our story, Morocco was under French control:

  "The treaties officially assured Morocco of its legal status as a sovereign state, and the sultan remained the country's head of state. In practice, the sultan had no real power and the country was ruled by the colonial administration. French civil servants allied themselves with the French settlers and with their supporters in France to prevent any moves in the direction of Moroccan autonomy. As 'pacification' proceeded, the French government focused on the exploitation of Morocco's mineral wealth, the creation of a modern transportation system, and the development of a modern agricultural sector geared to the French market. Tens of thousands of colons, or colonists, entered Morocco and acquired large tracts of the rich agricultural land. Morocco was home to half a million Europeans. They formed almost half the population of the city of Casablanca. Since the kingdom's independence in 1956, the European element has largely departed." — Wikipedia (HERE).

~ "a wealthy title bought under the Empire": It's unclear whether the First French Empire (Wikipedia HERE) or the Second (Wikipedia HERE) is meant, probably the latter.
~ "killed at Verdun": The longest battle in the First World War:

  "The battle lasted for 303 days, the longest and one of the most costly in human history. In 2000, Hannes Heer and K. Naumann calculated that the French suffered 377,231 casualties and the Germans 337,000, a total of 714,231 and an average of 70,000 a month. In 2014, William Philpott wrote of 976,000 casualties in 1916 and 1,250,000 suffered around the city during the war. In France, the battle came to symbolise the determination of the French Army and the destructiveness of the war." 
Wikipedia (HERE).

~ "Clancy’s half-formed notions about the Hotel Drouot": You could buy just about anything there: "Hôtel Drouot is a large auction house in Paris, known for fine art, antiques, and antiquities." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "Marie Antoinette’s nightcap": As everybody knows, she lost her head: "Marie Antoinette (born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, 1755-93) was the last Queen of France before the French Revolution."   Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "a dozen places to get absinth": Usually spelled with a final e: "Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "dressed up to the nines": A once popular expression (Wikipedia HERE).
~ "her bonne à tout faire had departed": Probably meaning a chamber-maid.

~ "it is Faust, which matters nothing until the ballet at the end": An opera first performed in 1859: "In 1869 a ballet had to be inserted (into the first scene of the final act) before the work could be played at the Opéra: it became the most frequently performed opera at that house. With the change from spoken dialogue to sung recitatives, plus the musical and balletic additions, the opera was thus finally transformed into a work following the conventions of grand opera." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "Cleopatra's vinegar destroyed no greater value than this little meal": "The Banquet of Cleopatra is the title of several works showing the culmination of a wager between Cleopatra and Mark Antony as to which one could provide the most expensive feast. As recounted in Pliny the Elder's Natural History she wins the wager: after Mark Antony's feast, Cleopatra drops a rare and precious pearl from her earring into a cup of vinegar and drinks it once the pearl has dissolved." — Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).
- Another murder mystery featuring stamps and set in Paris, this one a motion picture starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, is Charade (1963; SPOILERS; Wikipedia HERE).
- There's an article about Henry James O'Brien Bedford-Jones on Wikipedia (HERE); meanwhile The Pulp Super-Fan (HERE) covers Bedford-Jones's career in some detail.
- If you prefer longer fiction, Bedford-Jones's novel The Mardi Gras Mystery (1921) is available at Project Gutenberg (HERE).


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