THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck


ALICE MacGOWAN & PERRY NEWBERRY – The Million Dollar Suitcase. Stokes, hardcover, 1922; International Fiction Library, hardcover reprint, n.d.

MacGOWAN & NEWBERRY Million Dollar Suitcase

   Impossible-crime fanciers get a bonus and a debit here. The bonus: There are two locked-room situations. The debit: They aren’t very good.

   The first occurs when a San Francisco bank teller absconds with nearly a million dollars. Close on the teller’s heels is the bank’s private detective, Jerry Boyne. He arrives at the teller’s hotel room to find the windows latched with burglar-proof locks and the door closed with the usual spring lock.

   In front of the door is a woman repairing a rug, and she had been there since the teller had entered his room. The teller had not left by the door, but neither he nor the money was in the room.

   Worth Gilbert, whose father has stock in the bank, offers the bank’s board $800,000 for the contents of the suitcase. It seems he needs a challenge. While Gilbert can raise most of the money, he has to ask his father to provide the rest. After a fight with his father, he doesn’t get the money. Shortly thereafter his father is found shot to death in the second locked room.

   Fortunately for Boyne, who would not have been chosen by his predecessor to head the detective agency and one can see why from the many mistakes he makes in this investigation, he has the aid, on the rare occasions he’s sensible enough to use it, of a young woman whose psychologist father trained her from childhood to be a lightning observer and reasoner. She figures out the first locked room; Boyne, after having the solution shoved under his nose, solves the second.

   This novel apparently appeared first in the Saturday Evening Post as “Two and Two.” As far as I can recall, the Post printed no bad stories, but it did publish some mediocre material, in which category this falls, despite an occasional good observation such as “A financier’s idea of indecency is something about money which hasn’t formerly been done.”

   Since this is the first in a series of books featuring Jerry Boyne, I’ll be looking for the other novels by MacGowan and Newberry but only to establish who solves Boyne’s other cases.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 4, Fall 1992.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Alice MacGowan & Perry Newberry —
             [All with Jerry Boyne.]

      The Million Dollar Suitcase. Stokes, 1922.
      The Mystery Woman. Stokes, 1924.
      Shaken Down. Stokes, 1925.
      The Seventh Passenger. Stokes, 1926.
      Who Is This Man?. Stokes, 1927.