Saturday, October 30, 2021

"Now All We Have To Do Is Go Around Smelling People"

"Mystery of the Crushed Peppermints."
By Leonard Raphael (?-?).

Illustration uncredited.
First appearance: Mammoth Detective, March 1943.

Short story (11 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
(Note: Faded text.)

     "It was darker than a coal mine during a blackout."

Even before he can come to grips with a very public murder, a wise-cracking Hollywood publicist must deal with the kidnaping of one of his favorite movie stars—who also just happens to be his fiancée . . .

Main characters:
~ Van Edwards:

  ". . . stood there, a surprised expression on his face, his lips twitching . . ."
~ Sergeant Hansen:
  ". . . roared into the microphone with his usual lack of brains . . ."
~ Diana Bruce:
  ". . . the young actress who had made the men of America thank God for the invention of the sweater."
~ Brenda Hayworth:
  ". . . whose blood was so blue that some people claimed that ink came out when she cut herself."
~ J. J. Hayworth:
  ". . . had more green stuff than a Texas ranch . . ."

~ Max Goldklein:
  "Stevie, it's over, yes?"
~ Tommy Vale:
  "I'll make a bargain with you."
~ Steve Sanders:
  "Will I be another suicide?"

Typo: "whinning over my head".

References and resources:
- "a blonde Hedy Lamarr": A very popular film star in the '40s and'50s, but also quite intelligent:
  "During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, an emerging technology in naval war, could easily be jammed and set off course. 
She thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "it's Gene Autry": Before and during World War II he was in constant competition with Roy Rogers:
  "Orvon Grover 'Gene' Autry (1907–98), nicknamed the Singing Cowboy, was an American singer, songwriter, actor, musician, and rodeo performer who gained fame largely by singing in a crooning style on radio, in films, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "Louella Parsons jotted this item down": A professional eavesdropper:
  "Louella Parsons (1881–1972) was an American movie columnist and a screenwriter. She was retained by William Randolph Hearst because she had championed Hearst's mistress Marion Davies and subsequently became an influential figure in Hollywood. At her peak, her columns were read by 20 million people in 700 newspapers worldwide. She remained the unchallenged 'Queen of Hollywood gossip' until the arrival of the flamboyant Hedda Hopper, with whom she feuded for years" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "the Gettysburg Address": No, it's not "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue":
  "The Gettysburg Address is a speech that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. It is one of the best-known speeches in American history" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "like William Powell": A household name in 1943:
  "His most memorable role in silent movies was as a vengeful film director opposite Emil Jannings' Academy Award-winning performance as a fallen general in The Last Command (1928). This success, along with Powell's commandingly pleasant speak-ing voice, led to his first starring role as amateur detective Philo Vance in the 'talkie' The Canary Murder Case (1929). He played Philo Vance at Paramount Pictures three more times, and once at Warner's in his final appearance in the role in The Kennel Murder Case" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "pointing a tommy-gun at me": Soldiers and criminals loved it:
  "The Thompson submachine gun (also known as the 'Tommy Gun', 'Chicago Typewriter', 'Chicago Piano', or 'Trench Broom') is a blowback-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed selective-fire submachine gun, invented by the United States Army Brigadier general John T. Thompson in 1918" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "blackout": A common practice in World War II America:
  "A blackout during war, or in preparation for an expected war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed (or reflected) light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to identify their targets by sight . . ." (Wikipedia HERE).

- "a bag of crushed peppermints": Derived from a plant:
  "Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are often used alone in peppermint tea or with other herbs in herbal teas (tisanes, infusions). Peppermint is used for flavoring ice cream, candy, fruit preserves, alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, toothpaste, and some shampoos, soaps and skin care products" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "almost as famous a gangster as Edward G. Robinson": Another household name in the '40s:
  "Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; Yiddish: עמנואל גאָלדנבערג‎; 1893–1973) was a Romanian-born American actor of stage and screen during Hollywood's Golden Age. He appeared in 30 Broadway plays and more than 100 films during a 50-year career and is best remembered for his tough-guy roles as gangsters in such films as Little Caesar and Key Largo" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "third degree his corpse": No longer a common practice—we hope:
  "The phrase comes from the practice of interrogation under torture, where three degrees of torture were recognized, of increasing intensity. In other contexts, three degrees of interrogation were recognized, with torture being the third degree" (Wiktionary HERE).

- "a Beverly Hills society dame": In America social class distinctions still persist:
  "In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford bought land on Summit Drive and built a mansion, finished in 1921 and nicknamed 'Pickfair' by the press. The glamour associated with Fairbanks and Pickford as well as other movie stars who built mansions in the city contributed to its growing appeal" (Wikipedia HERE).

- Steve Sanders appeared in just two adventures. According to FictionMags, Leonard Raphael produced only four stories; at the moment we can't find out anything else about this author:
  (1) "The Man Who Saw Through Time," Fantastic Adventures, September 1941 (HERE)
  (2) "The Corpse That Talked" [Steve Sanders], Mammoth Detective, January 1943
  (3) "Mystery of the Crushed Peppermints" [Steve Sanders], Mammoth Detective, March 1943
  (4) "Bad Man’s Picnic," The Saturday Evening Post, February 10, 1951.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

"He Went Spinning Down into the Star-streaked Oblivion of Unconsciousness"

THERE'S AN OLD SAYING about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, but you can be sure that someone somewhere will take it to extremes. That's how it is with one inhabitant of an officially "backward" planet who embarks on . . .

"The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound."
By Poul Anderson (1926-2001; HERE) & Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001; HERE).
Illustrations by Edd Cartier (1914-2008; HERE).
First appearance: Universe Science Fiction, December 1953.
Third story in the Hoka series (HERE).
Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (25 pages).
Online at (HERE) and The Luminist Archives (HERE; go down to text page 50).
     "Aha! A sea-faring man with red hair and a peg leg has passed by here on his way to drown a sackful of kittens."

Sherlock Holmes is hot on the trail of a wanted drug smuggler who has decided the planet Toka is the ideal place to hide out. "Sherlock Holmes?" you're probably thinking. This Holmes is like every one of his kind: "about a meter tall, tubby, golden-furred, with big panda-like heads. A race of overgrown teddy bears." But can this particular overgrown teddy bear live up to his namesake?

Principal characters:
~ Whitcomb Geoffrey:
  "A frown darkened Geoffrey’s brow. 'They may hamper us, you mean?' he snapped. 'Your function is to keep the natives non-hostile, Jones'."
~ Alexander Jones:
  "'No,' said Jones unhappily. 'What I’m afraid of is that the Hokas may try to help us. Believe me, Geoffrey, you’ve no idea of what can happen when Hokas take it into their heads to be helpful'."
~ Inspector Lestrade:
  "We wouldn’t find anything. No, sir, in a case as serious as this, there’s only one man who can lay such an arch-criminal by the heels. I refer, of course, to Mr. Sherlock Holmes."
~ Farmer Toowey:
  "Ah, lad, it be turrible what yeou zee on the moor o’ nights."
~ Sir Henry Baskerville:
  "The Hound. The Hound is after me!"
~ The butler:
  "Much as I admire Sir Henry, I cannot continue to serve an employer who may at any moment be devoured by monsters."
~ The ppussjan:
  ". . . found the light switch and snapped it. The radiance caught a tangle of three Hokas and one human."

Typo: "serveral".

References and resources:
- "the romantic version of nineteenth-century America, complete in every detail. Then there was the Space Patrol": References to previous Hoka adventures; see the ISFDb Hoka series listing (HERE).
- The Hoka resurfaced fifteen years later in entirely human form in a Star Trek episode, "A Piece of the Action" (WARNING! SPOILERS! Wikipedia HERE and Memory Alpha HERE).
- There's a review of Earthman's Burden at (HERE).
- Wikipedia's article (HERE) about the original human Sherlock Holmes is pretty comprehensive. Their entry on The Hound of the Baskervilles is similar (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE). Project Gutenberg has the full text (HERE).
- ONTOS articles touching on The Hound are (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- Our latest contact with Poul Anderson was his "Out of the Iron Womb" (HERE).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

"I Believe That the Writings of Conan Doyle Have Done More Than Any Other One Thing To Stimulate Active Interest in the Scientific and Analytical Investigation of Crime"

CONAN DOYLE didn't invent the modern fictional detective; that honor goes to Edgar Allan Poe. Doyle took Poe's template, however, and expanded it into new literary dimensions that Poe didn't explore due to other pressing matters or simply a lack of interest. Like it or not (and for some reason some people don't), Sherlock Holmes's adventures introduced to the public at large new methods of detective work that have since become standard. As Sir Sydney Smith, a medico-legal expert, notes: "An author may feel satisfaction when his fiction is accepted as true to life. Conan Doyle had the rare, perhaps unique, distinction of seeing life become true to his fiction."
Ahead of his time.
For some criminalists, however, Holmes is pure fantasy tending to impair police work:
  "It is to be regretted that the methods of investigating crimes have not kept pace with the methods of their execution. As a rule, government authorities are still dwelling in the fantastic atmosphere of the super-detective of the Sherlock Holmes type who is supposed to know everything even before it happened, and whose principal investigative asset seems to be that rather mysterious faculty of 'intuition' which, like an X-ray, penetrates under the thief's skin. Bernard De Quiros calls this the empirical phase of investigation, as distinguished from and opposed to the scientific method.
  "However erroneous the belief in the 'super-detective panacea' may be, it has captured the imagination of the dilettantes of criminology and has helped to entrench inefficacy in the field of criminal research."
  — Boris Brasol (1926), "Foundations of Criminology" (HERE).
Others, though, have been willing to cut the Sage of Baker Street some slack:
  "Admirers of Sherlock Holmes know by this time that their hero was not infallible; they ought to know that methods of crime-detection have advanced in fifty years; but Holmes is at least as modern as 1904, and even the studious background and other values of this book do not convince us that Sherlock Holmes's methods (or even his techniques) were inferior to those of his contemporary . . ."
  — Jay Finley Christ (1946), review (HERE) of Theodor Reik's The Unknown Murderer (1945).

As you can see, professional criminologists have experienced an adience-avoidance relationship with Conan Doyle's master detective. On the one hand, they find Holmes's primitive forensics methods dismissible simply because, after all, they are primitive, while at the same time lauding Doyle for laying a foundation for the popular acceptance of their chosen field. Below we have several criminologists displaying the latter, more tolerant view of Sherlock's achievements:

"The Manly Art of Observation and Deduction."
By John C. Hogan and Mortimer D. Schwartz.
First appearance: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Spring 1964.
Article (9 pages).
Online at the Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons (HERE).
     "If I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all."

Our authors review quite a few instances of the mental processes by which Sherlock Holmes arrives at his brilliant solutions, concluding with an admonition to all criminalists:
  "Let the investigator first learn to master thoroughly two of the three qualities which Mr. Holmes said are necessary for the ideal detective the power of observation and that of deduction before undertaking the more advanced mental and moral aspects of the art which present the greatest difficulties and which require proficiency in the third quality-namely, not to be wanting in knowledge!"
~ ~ ~
"Sherlock Holmes: Father of Scientific Crime and Detection."
First appearance: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1970).
Article (8 pages).
Online at the Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons (HERE).
(Note: WARNING! SPOILERS for "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder.")
     "Aside from some admitted personal bias, I feel a strong case can be made that the famous sleuth had a decided stimulating influence on the develop-ment of modern scientific crime detection."

Not many authors can be said to have been ahead of their time:
  "A review of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels will quickly reveal the wide spectrum of scientific methods and interests utilized by Holmes in his many cases. Almost every one of the forensic sciences as we know them today is touched upon in some manner or the other. While the application of the many forensic sciences is standard procedure today, they were not so in Holmes' day."

Typos: "rather then"; "it's [for its]".

References and resources:
- The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes is online (HERE).
- Theodor Reik was a colleague of Sigmund Freud, with all that entails:
  "Reik's first major book was The Compulsion to Confess (1925), in which he argued that neurotic symptoms such as blushing and stuttering can be seen as unconscious confessions that express the patient's repressed impulses while also punishing the patient for communicating these impulses. Reik further explored this theme in The Unknown Murderer (1932), in which he examined the process of psychologically profiling unknown criminals. He argued out that because of unconscious guilt, criminals often leave clues that can lead to their identification and arrest" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Boris Brasol's name will forever be linked to a despicable document; born in Imperial Russia, Brasol settled in the United States after the Revolution:
  "Brasol pursued a successful career as a literary critic and criminologist and published several books in each of these fields" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Other mentioned individuals: [Harry] Ashton-Wolfe (HERE), Henry Morton Robinson (HERE), Sir Sydney Smith (HERE), Alphonse Bertillon (HERE), Edmond Locard (HERE), Hans Gross (HERE), Paul Uhlenhuth (HERE), [Sir William] Herschel (HERE), [Henry] Faulds (HERE), [Johann Evangelist] Purkinje (HERE), [Francis] Galton (HERE), [Juan] Vucetich (HERE), and [Étienne Ossian] Henry (HERE).
- Agatha Christie isn't exactly renowned for her treatment of criminalistics in her stories, but a new book demonstrates that such an appraisal very likely underestimates her knowledge of forensics; see a review of that book (HERE).
- For more about Edgar Poe's contributions to detective fiction, see (HERE) and (HERE).

Saturday, October 9, 2021

"One Wonders How Some People Think These Methods Up"

By Ken Poyner (born 1956).
First appearance: Daily Science Fiction, September 30, 2021.
Short short short story (2 pages as a PDF).
Online at Daily Science Fiction (HERE).

     ". . . got him flush in the back with a .38 slug."

"What's in a name?" soliloquized Juliet. In the future what's in a name could mean the difference between cashing out and cashing in . . . .

Main characters:
~ James:
  "Neither James nor his wife apparently knew it was James day."
~ Ned:
  "In the end, Ned collected the $450 for his catch."
~ Mrs.:
  "Most people resented the success of her secrecy."

- The author has pages (HERE) and (HERE); his ISFDb bibliography is (HERE).
- The idea that society could deteriorate as catastrophically far as the one in today's story was also memorably highlighted in Robert Sheckley's "Seventh Victim" (HERE).

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

"I've Found Out the Name of the Murderer!"

WHILE COLE PORTER encouraged us all to brush up our Shakespeare, the two amateur sleuths in our story just might have gone a little overboard as they try to solve . . .

"The Macbeth Murder Mystery."
By James Thurber (1894-1961).
First appearance: The New Yorker, October 2, 1937.
Reprinted in Lilliput, March 1938; Literary Cavalcade, October 1955; and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-September 1983.
First collected in The Thurber Carnival (1943).
Short short short story (2 pages as a PDF).
Online at Fadedpage (HERE; scroll down and click on title hotlink) and (HERE; PDF; beware of typos).
     "The person you suspect of the first murder should always be the second victim."

It has been noted that while reading between the lines can reveal unspoken truths, it can also have its pitfalls. Take, for instance, Duncan's undeserved demise in the Scottish play . . . .
Principal characters:
~ The American woman:
  "In the first place, I don't think for a moment that Macbeth did it."
~ The narrator:
  "Did what?"

References and resources:
- You might want to brush up your Shakespeare with a short summary of Macbeth; go to Wikipedia (HERE). The full play is (HERE).
- There are brief mentions of Penguin books (HERE), Ivanhoe (HERE), Lorna Doone (HERE), Agatha Christie (HERE), Hercule Poirot (HERE), Mr. Pinkerton and Inspector Bull (Book Scribbles HERE and Michael Grost HERE), and Hamlet (HERE).
- The infamous Third Murderer also figured into Anne Lear's "The Adventure of the Global Traveler or: The Global Consequences of How the Reichenbach Falls into the Wells of Iniquitie" (HERE); also see Wikipedia (HERE).
- For years James Grover Thurber was hot stuff with the editors of the "slicks" and in Hollywood; see Wikipedia (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE; 45 credits). The Fadedpage Thurber collection is (HERE).
- We've encountered Thurber before, with the 1991 collection Thurber on Crime (HERE) and his "The White Rabbit Caper" (HERE; go down to item 3).