Thursday, September 28, 2023

UPDATE: "The Jake Murchison Series (Updated)"

An update of an update. Links changes for "Salvage" and "No Hiding Place" (HERE).

"Turn to the Volumes Which Bear His Name, and You Find Not Merely a Few Occasional Murders: You Discover a Holocaust"

"Violent Death in Fiction."
First appearance: T.P.'s Weekly, May 22, 1903.
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE and below).

It seems to our commentator that the brightest lights in the literary firmament (of the early 20th century, at any rate) could be found focusing their efforts on the task of disposing of some of their characters in macabre ways, resulting in an unintentional competition of sorts as to who might be the most prodigious and effective in killing off their "darlings." While it may surprise you to see these authors' names in this context, you probably won't be surprised at which one takes the prize.

Passing references:
~ Dickens (HERE) and Lawyer Tulkington (HERE)
~ Montague Tigg (HERE), Carker (HERE), Dombey and Son (HERE), Quilp (HERE), The Old Curiosity Shop (HERE), Bill "Sykes" (sp.) (HERE), Bradley Headstone (HERE), Krook (HERE), and Bleak House (HERE)
~ Thackeray (HERE), Frank Esmond (HERE), the Duke of Hamilton (HERE), Lord Mohun (HERE), Catherine (HERE), Dumas (HERE), D'Artagnan (HERE and HERE), and Sue (HERE)
~ Conan Doyle (HERE), Sherlock Holmes (HERE), and "spectral hounds" (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

UPDATE: "What the Baker Street Irregulars Will Make of It Is Uncertain"

We've changed (HERE) from the UNZ link to the Internet Archive and left everything else the same. However, the reproduction there is not very good.

Friday, September 22, 2023

UPDATE: "The Passing of the Detective"

We're posting the original article, first featured (HERE), where you'll also find supplemental material.

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023


"Should An Author Kill His Hero?"
Article (1 page).
First appearance: T.P.'s Weekly, November 28, 1902.
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE and below).

The flowers had scarcely begun to wither on Sherlock Holmes's funeral wreath when an almost universal cry went up for Conan Doyle to resurrect the Sage of Baker Street. Judging from today's article, can we detect a tendency for some late 19th- and early 20th-century authors to bump off their characters and wait to see what sort of reaction would result? Don't forget that something similar happened in the late 20th century with a character named Spock.

Among those mentioned:
- Hall Caine (HERE) and Beerbohm Tree (HERE)
- A. Conan Doyle (HERE), Sherlock Holmes (HERE), and Moriarty (HERE)
- Cutcliffe Hyne (HERE) and Captain Kettle (HERE)
- Guy Boothby (HERE) and Doctor Nikola (HERE)
- Rudyard Kipling (HERE) and The Light That Failed (HERE)
- William Shakespeare (HERE) and Romeo and Juliet (HERE)
- J. M. Barrie (HERE)
- The Ragpicker (HERE) and (HERE).
NOTE: With this posting we have reached our 1700th since we first began on September 24, 2013. We hope that enlightenment and enjoyment—and not consternation and confusion—have been the results of our efforts.

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

Monday, September 18, 2023

One for the Birds

"The Carlton Theater Mystery."
By Ralph Durand (1876-1945).
First appearance: The Popular Magazine, April 7, 1923.
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at Comic Book Plus (HERE; using dropdown menu select page 162).

   "But this business—this is murder."

Sherlock Holmes was known to blur the line between the strictures of the law and the imperatives of justice and would sometimes let things slide. In today's story, an amateur detective faces the same dilemma, because he knows that the killer did it for what many would consider to be the best of reasons. Nevertheless, he feels compelled to ask: "Is murder ever justifiable?"

Main characters:
~ Irene St. George, the corpus delicti:
  "Fell dead on the stage, she did, and the doctor said she was poisoned."
~ Detective Simmonds, the long arm of the law:
  ". . . resented being set a task that was outside his own special line. Burglary was his department."
~ Albert Mayo, "the famous ex-burglar revivalist preacher":
  ". . . was too often inclined to show a warm fellow feeling for the criminal and could never be trusted not to help him escape instead of handing him over to justice."
~ Talesa, the Belle of Tahiti:
  ". . . used to be a star at the Carlton . . ."
~ Doctor Aubrey Buxton:
  ". . . said that she was poisoned and that all the symptoms pointed to its being a rare poison called curare."
~ Tom Parker:
  "Asked if he knew of any one who had any reason to have a grudge against Miss Irene St. George, her manager, Mr. Tom Parker, frankly admitted that he knew of scores."
~ The editor of the Sentinel:
  "I won't say anything about the woman because convention demands that one must not speak ill of the dead until after the lapse of a certain amount of time."
~ The gunshop owner:
  "An air gun or air pistol . . ."

References and resources:
- We get a brief tour of some of London's landmarks:
  "Scotland Yard" (HERE) - "Blackfriars" (HERE) - "Trafalgar Square" (HERE) - "Chiswick" (HERE) - "Whitehall" (HERE) - and "Charing Cross" (HERE).
- "Doss houses":
  Americans have a different name for the same thing: "A flophouse (American English) or dosshouse (British English) is a place that offers very low-cost lodging, providing space to sleep and minimal amenities." (See Wikipedia HERE.)
- "a single humming bird will destroy many hundreds of noxious insects":
  This is true: "Hummingbirds are famous for drinking nectar out of flowers. They're nature's sugar addicts. But they don't live on nectar alone. Hummingbirds eat insects to add proteins and minerals to their diets. They may pick these insects off leaves and trees (a process called 'gleaning'). They're also skilled enough fliers to catch fruit flies and other small bugs in midair (which is called 'hawking')." (See Ask a Biologist HERE.)
- "Millions of acres won from the forest by man's toil are returning to forest again through man's greed and stupidity":
  How many citizens of the 21st century would regard that statement with equanimity?
- "Osprey plumes are obtained from the egret":
  "So-called 'osprey' plumes were an important item in the plume trade of the late 19th century and used in hats including those used as part of the army uniform. Despite their name, these plumes were actually obtained from egrets." (See Wikipedia HERE and HERE.)
- This was not Albert Mayo's only appearance. We've had to make a few guesses, so what follows might not be fully accurate (FictionMags data):
   (1) "Set a Thief—," The Popular Magazine, December 7, 1922
   (2) "The Mallard Diamond Case," The Popular Magazine, December 20, 1922
   (3) "The Plundering of Mr. Potts," The Popular Magazine, March 20, 1923
   (4) "The Carlton Theater Mystery," The Popular Magazine, April 7, 1923 (above)
   (5) "The Cocaine Smuggler," The Popular Magazine, April 20, 1923 (reprinted from The Detective Magazine, December 22, 1922)
   (6) "Mayo’s Last Case," The Popular Magazine, May 7, 1923.
- FictionMags' thumbnail about Ralph Anthony Durand: "Librarian and museum curator, world traveler, author of novels, short stories and reference works." Durand's series character was Peter Darrell, featuring continuously in 8 stories in The Windsor Magazine from June 1927 to January 1928.

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

UPDATE: Edmond Hamilton's "Murder in the Void"

An online link change (HERE).

"Six Times That Iron Coughed"

"The Anti-Climax of a Bad Man."
By Burke Jenkins (1879-1948).
First appearance: The Argosy, September 1907.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at Hathi Trust (HERE and below).

   "For nonchalance in cold-blooded murder, Kinston had branded himself king."

When opportunity knocks, it's unwise to ignore it. In today's story, an ambitious young man follows that advice but admits that opportunity works best if you "couple it with luck and a little ingenuity."

Principal characters:
~ Caldwell, candidate for sheriff.
~ Dog Hankly, another candidate for sheriff.
~ Kinston "of the steely orb."
~ Various and sundry village smart alecks.

References and resources:
- "We're electing a sheriff, you see, and according, we can't be too careful":
  "In the United States, a sheriff is the chief of law enforcement of a county. Sheriffs are usually either elected by the populace or appointed by an elected body. . . . Of the 50 U.S. states, 48 have sheriffs. . . . In many rural areas of the United States, particularly in the South and West, the sheriff has traditionally been viewed as one of a given county's most influential political office-holders." (See Wikipedia HERE.)
- "that 'opportunity' which is supposed to knock once at every man's door":
  There are quite a few English idioms that feature "opportunity." (See The Free Dictionary HERE.)
- FictionMags credits Burke Jenkins with dozens of slick mags sales (The Argosy, Munsey's, All-Story, and the like) from 1904 to 1928. He had only one series character, Tadbury Wimple, limited to three issues of The Cavalier in 1910.

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

UPDATE: Jack Williamson's "Twelve Hours to Live!"

While it might not be the case with you, we've been having trouble with the URLs at UNZ. Consequently, we're changing access from them to other sources. (HERE) is a readily accessible link to Williamson's story. Thanks for your time and patience.

Monday, September 11, 2023

"He Would Have Done His Best To Get Drowned"

"The Novel Reading Season."
T.P.'s Weekly, June 24, 1904 (HERE and below).
1 page.

Many stories that captivated our ancestors a century or more ago have, understandably, been long forgotten, but there are notable exceptions, the exploits of Sherlock Holmes being prime examples. Here we have a book review column from nearly 120 years past. Do any of the authors ring a bell? Because if they do, then they've done a lot better than some more recent writers that you could probably point to, if you could just remember their names.

~ W. A. Mackenzie (1870-1942), His Majesty's Peacock. (See Wikipedia HERE and eBay HERE.)

~ M. E. Francis (Mary E. Blundell, 1859-1930), Lychgate Hall. (Online at HERE; also see Wikipedia HERE and HERE.)
~ Arthur W. Marchmont (1852-1923), By Snare of Love. (Online at HERE; poor copy.)
~ Fergus Hume (1859-1932), The Lonely Church. (Online at Project Gutenberg Australia HERE and at as a Kindle e-book HERE.)
~ Major Arthur Griffiths (1838-1908), A Woman of Business. (Online at Google Books HERE; also see Wikipedia HERE about the author.)
~ H. Maxwell (?), The Unclaimed Million. (Fragments of this novel, two chapters, survive online in a newspaper serialization HERE.) 

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

"If You Had Nothing To Do with It, You’ll Show Me What I Want To See, and Then I Can Go"

"Ink's Jinx."
By Anthony Clemens (Emile C. Tepperman, 1899-1951; HERE and HERE).
First appearance: Secret Agent X, September 1934.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at (HERE; scroll down to page 119).

   "The incident of the pen had been annoying, but he’d covered every angle of that."

The ink hasn't had a chance to dry on his perfect crime, you might say, before the killer discovers that one little thing that he's overlooked. His prospects? They're written on the wind . . .

Main characters:
~ The victim: Jake Banff.
~ The perp: Kemmerer.
~ Others: Stoner, the cop on the beat at the Banff Metal Works; Mrs. Freling, the landlady, and Mr. Freling; Mrs. Reilly, from downstairs; and an unnamed police detective.

References and resources:
- "in the squalid tenement on the lower east side":
  "The bulk of immigrants who came to New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries came to the Lower East Side, moving into crowded tenements there." (See Wikipedia HERE.)
- "the red Parkinson pen":
   Probably an indirect reference to the Parker ink pen. "From the 1920s to the 1960s, before the development of the ballpoint pen, Parker was either number one or number two in worldwide writing instrument sales. In 1931, Parker created Quink (quick drying ink), which eliminated the need for blotting." (See Wikipedia HERE.)
- Roy Glashan has compiled an impressive collection of Emile Clemens Tepperman's stories at his deluxe library (HERE), two of which we've already covered: "Sleuth of the Airwaves" (HERE) and "The People Rest" (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.