Wednesday, February 3, 2021

"There's Sure No Mystery Here!"

SOME CRIME STORIES don't seem to age very much; here's one dating from nearly a century ago that points up the fatal implications of a . . .

"Poor Economy."
By Ray Cummings (1887-1957).
First appearance: Munsey's Magazine, January 1923.
Reprinted in Thrilling Detective, June 1947.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at (HERE).

An angry flareup and the terrible deed is done and over with—until, you might say, the truth comes to light . . . .

Principal characters:
~ George Lansing:
  "Everything you do, all day long, is on the pinchpenny basis."
~ Jonathan Peck:
  "He looked shocked, distraught. Why not?"
~ Sergeant McCaffery:
  "He sure tried to put up a fight—"

References and resources:
- "the wide latitude emulsion": Something of a misnomer: "Photographic emulsion is not a true emulsion, but a suspension of solid particles (silver halide) in a fluid (gelatin in solution). However, the word emulsion is customarily used in a photographic context." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "turned toward his darkroom": "Darkrooms have been used since the inception of photography in the early 19th century." (Wikipedia HERE).
- While Raymond King Cummings easily deserves the distinction of being an uberpulpster (our term for a pulpster's pulpster), his fiction was a cut above the usual fare. We communed with Cummings last April with his story "Bought Silence" (HERE).


  1. Cummings wrote some reasonably interesting science fiction, like THE GIRL IN THE GOLDEN ATOM. A rather uneven writer.

    1. I rather like his stuff. Even his crime fiction, like in this story, had scientific/technological elements that either served as maguffins or somehow helped the plot along. I'm thinking he was a science fiction writer at heart who played in other genres to meet the rent. As for his style . . . that's something else.