Wednesday, January 6, 2021

"All Eyes Kept Turning Furtively Toward the Empty Jewel Case"

TODAY'S AUTHOR presents us with the classic stolen stone trope that Agatha and a plethora of other detective fiction writers before and after them promiscuously exploited for years, confronting us with . . .

"The Case of the Missing Heirloom."
(a.k.a. "The Malmsey Jewel").
By Sax Rohmer (Arthur Sarsfield Ward, 1883-1959).
Illustrations by Robert Fawcett (1903-67; HERE).
First appearance: This Week, April 22, 1956.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE; PDF) and (HERE).
     "Even cut up, it would fetch a small fortune."

After the lights go out, imagine what has suddenly gone missing: "The faces of most of the eight persons present registered various degrees of alarm and embarrassment . . ."

Principal characters:
~ Sir John Malmsey:
  ". . . the Luck, not being a frog, can't very well have jumped away."
~ Jill Malmsey:
  "And here we are, camping out in the old manor house. Twenty-nine rooms, twenty-two locked — and a diamond worth a million!"
~ Molly Hatherton:
  "[Jill's] old school friend."
~ Dr. Don Greydon:
  "Very well, the pendant is still here. If the ladies will stand on the hearthrug and turn their backs . . ."
~ Dick Hatherton:
  "Trying to spark this beastly thing! It let me down."
~ Phil Engold:
  "Rose-cut with the rare blue tint. I can detect no flaw."
~ Mrs. Prudence Ordley:
  "I've always thought it a sinful jewel."
~ William Ordley:
  "Its faint glow revealed the fact of William Ordley, docile husband of the formidable Prudence."
~ Searle:
  ". . . lay face downward on the floor, his arms at his side."
~ . . . and The Law: Inspector Rigley, Sergeant Lake, and Detective Officer Mary Rollins.

- Although he created other series characters, Sax Rohmer will be forever remembered as the originator of not only Fu Manchu but also an entire universe built around him; there's no shortage of information available about Rohmer/Ward on the World Wide Webbie: Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the IMDb (HERE; 44 screen credits), and the ISFDb (HERE).
- About three years ago we noted Rohmer's short story "The Owl Hoots Twice" (HERE).


  1. Rohmer wrote a lot of good stuff apart from the Fu Manchu stories, including some quite effective gothic horror. And some occult detective stories (and that happens to be a favourite genre of mine).

    1. You are right. Rohmer wasn't a one-trick pony by any means. He was an able writer, with or without Fu Manchu.