A. E. APPLE “The Diamond Pirate.” Rafferty #2. Long novelette. First published in Detective Story Magazine, 22 October 1927. Reprinted in The Compleat Adventures of Mr. Chang and Mr. Rafferty, Battered Silicon Dispatch Box Press, hardcover, four volume set, 2010.

   I do not know whether the latter collection was ever published. “The Diamond Pirate” was the lead story of the October 22, 1927 issue of Detective Story Magazine, which is where I read it. It was preceded chronologically by “Rafferty, Master Rogue,” which appeared in the same magazine three weeks earlier.

   In that earlier story a master criminal named Rafferty outwitted a high-powered private eye by the name of Bradley and pulled off a bank robbery that netted him some twenty million dollars, a tidy sum, even today. In this second caper, Rafferty ups his game somewhat, intending to rob the diamond district en masse on a scale never seen before.

   The story opens in a mausoleum in a cemetery on a vicious rainswept night, as Rafferty’s closest lieutenants in crime meet in ear darkness to obtain the next step of instructions. In Act II, Rafferty obtains the services of a anarchic German scientist named Herr Heinie (…) but not before a long drawn-out confrontational scene between the two men takes place.

   Next, one of Rafferty’s assistants tries to defect to Bradley’s side, but the former gets wise, negates the loss and continues his plans. There is quite a bit of suspense that builds along way, but what may take the modern day reader by surprise — it did me — is that [PLOT ALERT!!] everything goes off smoothly. Rafferty and his gang make off with millions of dollars worth of diamonds, the last stage of their getaway accomplished by submarine. Bradley is a complete non-factor.

   There were over twenty tales told of Mr. Rafferty, at least two of them in conjunction with Mr. Chang, A. E. Apple’s equally long running version of a Chinese mastermind villain. I have no idea if Rafferty had the same amount of success in all of his ventures, but if all his schemes came off as easily as this one does, I have to wonder why the stories stayed as popular for as long as they did. A steady diet of tales such as this one would go nowhere quickly, as far as I am concerned.