Search Results for 'Carolyn Wells'

Reviewed by MIKE GROST:

CAROLYN WELLS – Faulkner’s Folly.

George H. Doran Co., hardcover, 1917. Serialized in All-Story Weekly, September 8 to September 29, 1917.


   Carolyn Wells’ Faulkner’s Folly (1917) is the first novel I have read by that author. It shows the frustrating mix of (artistic) virtue and vice that other commentators have discerned in her work.

   The book is startlingly close to the traditions of the Golden Age novel. But it was written before Christie, Carr, Queen, Van Dine and other intuitionist Golden Age writers had published a line. And this is hardly Wells’ first work; she had been publishing for over a decade, since 1906, when this novel appeared.

   The novel has an apparent medium who holds séances, etc., and whose “supernatural” gifts are ultimately explained naturally; this seems very anticipatory of both John Dickson Carr and Hake Talbot. Carr was in fact devoted to Wells’ works while growing up, and we know from both Ellery Queen and Carr biographer Douglas G. Greene that he was one of Wells’ biggest admirers. Many of Wells’ tales are impossible crime stories; she was apparently one of the first to expand this genre from the short story to the novel, following Gaston Leroux.

   Faulkner’s Folly also anticipates the Golden Age in other ways. It takes place in an upper class country house, and draws on a closed circle of suspects of relatives, guests and employees of the murdered man. There is an atmosphere of culture to the novel, too; the murdered man was a great painter, and one of his guests is the widow of the architect who built his mansion. The whole novel is very close in tone to S.S. Van Dine; in fact it is one of the closest approximations in feel to his work among the mystery authors who preceded him.


   Wells would certainly be classified as an intuitionist. She started by publishing in All Story magazine, one of the early pulp magazines that also featured the work of Mary Roberts Rinehart. But her work could not be more different from Rinehart’s.

   There is no sign of an influence from Anna Katherine Green, or of scientific detection ŕ la Arthur B. Reeve. Nor is there much suspense of any sort in Wells’ work. Instead, Wells’ book is squarely in the intuitionist tradition, and seems on the direct line to such later intuitionist writers of the Golden Age listed above.

   The best part of Wells’ book is the finale, when the murderer is revealed and the various mysteries are explained. It reminded me of the pleasure I have received from the finales of Christie, Carr and other Golden Agers, when all is revealed.

   Now for the down sides of Wells’ work. Her book is nowhere as good as a work of storytelling as the later authors we have mentioned. And her plot is nowhere as clever as these later authors, either. Bill Pronzini’s Gun in Cheek (1982), his affectionate but hilarious history of really bad crime fiction, points out other truly major flaws in Wells’ works.

   Her impossible crime plots tend to depend on secret passageways. This gimmick was later, during the Golden Age, regarded as a cheat; the locked room novels of Carr and others often contain solemn assurances from the author that no secret passageways were found in the buildings where the crimes occurred. To be fair, Wells showed some real ingenuity in the use of such secret panels and doors; but this gimmick is likely to annoy modern readers.


   We can compare Wells’ novel with “Nick Carter, Detective” (1891), an early series detective tale. The story opens with a “locked house” crime. Nick Carter suspects secret passageways, and sure enough he eventually finds the house to be riddled with them.

   They are similar to the secret passageways Herman Landon used for his Gray Wolf stories in Detective Story in 1920. Detective Story was the first specialized mystery pulp magazine. So the impossible crime caused by secret passageways was a common coin of inexpensive mystery fiction.

   Carolyn Wells also used secret passages for her locked room tales in the 1910’s, although she tended to employ Occam’s razor on them. She would employ the minimum number of passages need to commit the crime, often just one. It would be strategically placed in the only spot that would allow the crime to be committed.

   There was a quality of ingenuity to her placement: it was not at all obvious that a secret passage anywhere would enable the crime to be possible; the revelation that a secret passage would make the crime possible would startle the reader at the end of the story. She achieves a genuine puzzle plot effect by this approach: where is the secret passageway, and how could any secret passage possibly enable this crime?

— Reprinted with permission from A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection, by Michael E. Grost.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review by Bill Pronzini:

CAROLYN WELLS – The Wooden Indian.

J. B. Lippincott, hardcover, US/UK, 1935. Hardcover reprint: A. L. Burt/Blue Ribbon Books.


   During the first four decades of this century, Carolyn Wells wrote more than eighty mystery novels — most of them to a strict (and decidedly outmoded) formula she herself devised.

   She has been called, with some justification, an expert at the construction of the formal mystery, and she has also been credited with popularizing the locked-room/impossible-crime type of story, of which she wrote more than a score.

   Her other claim to fame is that she was the author of the genre’s first nonfiction work, a combination of how-to and historical overview called The Technique of the Mystery Story (1913). Unfortunately, that book is far more readable today than her novels, which are riddled with stilted prose, weak characterization, and flaws in logic and common sense.

   The Wooden Indian, one of her later titles, is a good example. It features her most popular series sleuth, Fleming Stone, a type she describes in The Technique of the Mystery Story as a “transcendent detective” — that is, a detective larger than life, omniscient, a creature of fiction rather than fact.


   And indeed, Fleming Stone is as fictitious as they come: colorless and one-dimensional, a virtual cipher whose activities are somewhat less interesting to watch than an ant making its way across a sheet of blank paper. The same is true of most of her other characters. None of them come alive; and if you can’t care about a novel’s characters, how can you care about its plot?

   The plot in this instance is a dilly. An obnoxious collector of Indian artifacts, David Corbin, keeps a huge wooden Indian, a Pequot chief named Opodyldoc, in a room full of relics at his home in “a tiny village in Connecticut which rejoiced in the name of Greentree.”

   One of the accouterments of this wooden Indian is a bow and arrow, fitted and ready to fire. And fire it does, of course, killing Corbin in what would seem to be an accident (or the fulfillment of an old Pequot curse against the Corbin family), since he was alone in the room at the time and there was no way anyone could have gotten in or out.


   Several guests are on hand at the time, one of them Fleming Stone. Stone sorts out the various motives and clues, determines that Corbin was murdered, identifies the culprit, and explains the mystery — an explanation that is not only silly (as were many of Wells’s solutions) but implausible, perhaps even as impossible as the crime itself was purported to be.

   Fleming Stone is featured in such other titles as The Clue (1909), The Mystery of the Sycamore (1921), and The Tapestry Room Murder (1929).

   Wells also created several other series detectives — Pennington (“Penny”) Wise, Kenneth Carlisle, Alan Ford, Lorimer Lane — all of whom are as “transcendent” as Fleming Stone.

   Her novels are important from a historical point of view, certainly; but the casual reader looking for entertaining, well-written, believable mysteries would do well to look elsewhere.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

by William R. Loeser

CAROLYN WELLS The Tannahill Tangle

CAROLYN WELLS – The Tannahill Tangle. J. B. Lippincott, US/UK, hardcover, 1928.

   I can’t remember who killed whom in Carolyn Wells’ The Tannahill Tangle, nor have I any desire to look it up.

   The feature that sticks in my mind is the two well-to-do couples who are the main characters. They are engaging in spouse-swapping, and, when one of them is killed, the perceptive reader might feel that the inherent frictions of this diversion have some bearing on the crime.

   But no, the survivors and Ms. Wells take great pains to assure themselves, each other, and us that they are too “well-bred” for such messy sports as murder. Fleming Stone is called in and, as I recall, is able to find someone of less-illustrious parentage and prospects to pin the rap on.

   Fortunately, I had only this one book of Ms. Wells to get rid of. It is a reminder I will not soon forget that the Golden Age produced the worst clinkers as well as the masterpieces of detective fiction.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 2, Mar-Apr 1979       (very slightly revised).


ALBERT DORRINGTON – The Radium Terrors. Eveleigh Nash, UK, hardcover, 1912. Doubleday Pagr, US, hardcover, 1912. W. R. Caldwell & Co., US, Hardcover, ca. 1912. Serialized in The Pall Mall Magazine, UK, January-June 1911, and in The Scrap Book, January-August 1911.

   Beatrice Messonier sat near the window dazed and mystified by her benefactor’s dazzling prophecies. Something in his manner suggested an approaching crisis in his own life and hers. What did his talk of princes and statesmen mean? She would have regarded such an outburst in another as the result of alcoholic excesses. But Teroni Tsarka was not given to the use of stimulants. He abhorred intemperance of mind and body. What he had spoken was the result of his structural philosophy, she felt certain. A tremendous crisis in medical research was at hand. And Teroni Tsarka was the man to sound the trumpet of science to an apathetic civilization.

   Beatrice Messonier is a brilliant oculist whose research was backed by the mysterious Dr. Tsarka, who has helped her learn the secrets of the Z Ray, the powerful result of radium research, and has set her up in a clinic, which has no patients thanks to his insistence on exorbitant fees.

   Just that night she broken her own heart having had to turn down the young detective Clifford Renwick, who was blinded with radium by Tsarka’s own assistant Horubi when Renwick tried to force an interview with Tsarka about the recently stolen Moritz Radium, Renwick being a youthful private investigator eager to make a name for himself.

   And of course we are off in the land of the Yellow Peril novel, serialized in Pall Mall, a popular British magazine on the lines of The Strand, and handsomely illustrated as well.

   Ironically Sax Rohmer had much the same idea in about the same year, with Dr. Fu Manchu making his debut, but even with Rohmer’s rather crude Edwardian style, his work is a far cry from the maudlin at times (the blinded Renwick has a touching moment with his old gray mother after escaping Tsarka — something you can hardly imagine Dr. Petrie or Nayland Smith bothering with) and painfully arch Dorrington.

   The formula here is much the same of the early Fu Manchu books, parry and thrust, chase, escape, and traps to capture Tsarka sharing about equal time with not particularly imaginative deadly traps for young Renwick.

   But the devil in these details is how dated Dorrington’s novel reads compared to Rohmer, who for all his melodrama and atmosphere is practically a minimalist in comparison.

   What with Beatrice Messonier (another difference is that in Rohmer, a Eurasian beauty wins Dr. Petrie’s heart, but in Dorrington, Renwick can’t be involved with a woman much more exotic than a Frenchwoman) unconvincingly posing as a much older woman and forced to seem heartless and cruel to young Renwick, and Tsarka being more interested in profit than world conquest, it is, for all its thrills, pretty pale stuff compared to Rohmer’s unknown poisons, Fu Manchu’s army of dacoit assassins, seductive Eurasian beauties under his spell, snakes, rats, weird poisonous bugs and the like.

   Tsarka, like Fu Manchu, has a daughter, but she is a far cry from Fu Manchu’s child. Rather she is a pale flower whose Japanese artist lover lives with she and her father (Tsarka uses an exhibition of the young man’s work to blind several prominent people who must then seek Madame Messonier’s clinic, the extent of his evil masterplan, a cheap cruel con game to make a few bucks). I suppose the attractive lovers are a step up from Fu Manchu’s evil daughter, but frankly they don’t bring much to the proceedings rather than a bit of humanization to the cruel and crafty Japanese scientist despite his penchant for experimenting on unwilling victims.

   “The scoundrel!” burst from Coleman. “He and his associates appear to have discovered a destroyer of human energy in radium. Personally, I fear that we shall find ourselves unable to cope with this new school of Asiatic criminals who regard the blinding of men and women as a pleasant pastime.”

   Reading this, it doesn’t take much imagination to see Rohmer’s entry in the Yellow Peril stakes for the startlingly new and modern work it must have seemed what with a thin patina of sex, relatively clipped dialogue, and straight forward telling wrapped in the opium fog laden atmosphere of Limehouse out of Thomas Burke and pure imagination. Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” reads as if it might have been written in the early twenties, where Dorrington’s Radium Terrors reads as if it might have been written in the early eighteen nineties.

   The book has its thrills, and while dated, it isn’t badly written, but reading it you can understand what readers noted in better writers of the era, a voice, that beginning with Conan Doyle, was more modern and less given to maudlin sentiment and long winded prose. Reading Rohmer after Dorrington, or around the same time, must have been as refreshing as discovering Dashiell Hammett after a steady diet of Carolyn Wells.

   Reading this can give you a new appreciation for the relative modernity of the more vulgar, and certainly more gifted Sax Rohmer. Tsarka is a mean and constipated villain, vicious, petty, and ultimately ridiculous for all the Victorian language. Rohmer’s Fu Manchu is a Miltonian angel fallen to earth — some recent Asian literary scholars have suggested rehabilitating Fu Manchu for just that reason — because the character has, both in Rohmer’s work and the public imagination, transcended his racist origins becoming an archetype as much as a stereotype.

   Whether there proves to be anything to that view or not the inescapable fact of reading The Radium Terrors is that Rohmer and Fu Manchu ran literary rings around Dorrington and his Dr. Tsarka, and it may just be the difference, aside from Rohmer’s superior storytelling skills, is that Dorrington doesn’t believe in his Japanese pretender for a moment, and Rohmer embraces the his creation with full blooded zeal.

   Fu Manchu lived and breathed. Tsarka lingers like a bad taste.

The Murder of Mystery Genre History:
A Review of The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction
by Curt J. Evans

Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction

   On the back cover of The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 2010; Catherine Ross Nickerson, editor), the blurb tells us that the fourteen essays contained therein represent the “very best in contemporary scholarship.” If so, this should be a matter of grave concern to people interested in the history of the American mystery genre before World War Two.

   As the Companion is a skimpy book of less than 200 pages and it has fourteen essays, potential readers should be immediately clued in to the fact that the essays tend to be rather cursory. A listing of the essays further reveals that the book’s coverage is esoteric, leaving noticeable gaps:

Introduction (4 pages)
Early American Crime Writing (10 pages, excluding footnotes)
Poe and the Origins of Detective Fiction (8 pages)
Women Writers Before 1960 (12 pages)
The Hard-Boiled Novel (15 pages)
American Roman Noir (12 pages)
Teenage Detective and Teenage Delinquents (13 pages)
American Spy Fiction (9 pages)
The Police Procedural on Literature and on Television (13 pages)
Mafia Stories and the American Gangster (10 pages)
True Crime (12 pages)
Race and American Crime Fiction (12 pages)
Feminist Crime Fiction (14 pages)
Crime in Postmodernist Fiction (12 pages)

   Further evidence of highly selective coverage can be found in the “American Crime Fiction Chronology” at the beginning of the book. Here are its milestones in crime fiction from 1841 to 1939:

1841 Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
1866 Metta Fuller Victor, The Dead Letter
1878 Anna Katharine Green, The Leavenworth Case
1908 Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Circular Staircase
1923 Carroll John Daly, “Three Gun Terry”
1925 Earl Derr Biggers, The House Without a Key
1927 S. S. Van Dine, The Benson Murder Case
1927 Franklin Dixon, The Tower Treasure
1929 Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
1929 Mignon Eberhart, The Patient in Room 18
1930 Carolyn Keene, The Secret of the Old Clock
1934 James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
1934 Leslie Ford, The Strangled Witness
1938 Mabel Seeley, The Listening House
1939 Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

   A pretty obvious pattern can be constructed from these fifteen fictional milestones:

The Distant Founder: Poe
The Women: Victor, Green, Rinehart, Eberhart, Ford, Seeley
The Hardboiled Men: Daly, Hammett, Cain, Chandler
The Non-hardboiled Men: Biggers, Van Dine
The Children’s Authors: “Dixon” and “Keene”

   One would conclude from this list that American men donated practically nothing to the detective fiction genre after 1841 (Poe), outside of the hardboiled variant and juvenile mystery (the authors of the Hardy Boys tales). Apparently the only significant male producers in the nearly 100 years between Poe’s first story and Chandler’s first novel were the creators of Philo Vance and Charlie Chan.

   But it gets even worse when we look at the actual text. S. S. Van Dine gets four mentions, all cursory, some problematic:

   On page 1 his rules for writing detective fiction are mentioned, dismissively.

   On page 29, he is dismissed as an imitator of Agatha Christie.

   On page 43, he is called an imitator of Arthur Conan Doyle and used as the usual hardboiled punching bag for not writing about “reality” (though he interestingly is deemed “the era’s most popular writer”).

   On page 136, it is claimed that The Benson Murder Case is “widely acknowledged as the first American clue-puzzle mystery”

   Earl Derr Biggers gets one line, solely for having created an ethnic detective (see “Race and American Crime Fiction”).

   At least these non-hardboiled make writers are mentioned! The hugely popular and admired genre author Rex Stout is another lucky lad. Though he missed the list of milestones, Stout nevertheless in mentioned in the text:

   On page 47 he is noted for having merged hardboiled and classic styles.

   On page 136, he is criticized, along with Van Dine, for ignoring race and gesturing “more toward Europe than actual American cities” and writing about rich white bankers, stockbrokers and attorneys (yup, “Race and American Crime Fiction” again).

   On the other hand, if you are looking for anything on Melville Davisson Post, Arthur B. Reeve or Ellery Queen, forget it! They did not exist apparently; we only imagined them all these years.

   Meanwhile, Anna Katharine Green gets two pages, Mary Roberts Rinehart three and Mignon Eberhart, Leslie Ford and Mabel Seeley together as a trio another two. (Heck, even the lovably loopy Carolyn Wells gets a line in this book.)

   The editor of the Companion, Catherine Ross Nickerson (author of The Web of Iniquity — a book, you may not be surprised to learn, about Anna Katharine Green and Mary Roberts Rinehart — and, in the Companion, of “Women Writers Before 1960”) lectures in her Introduction that:

    “It is only fairly recently that the multiple genres of crime writing have been taken up as subjects of academic study; before that, they were entirely in the hands of connoisseurs and collectors, with their endless taxonomies, lists and value judgments. What Chandler opened up was a new way of looking at crime narratives, or rather looking through them, as lenses on the culture and history of the United States.”

   This is an interesting idea indeed, but unfortunately Professor Nickerson’s own selective coverage gives us an inaccurate view of the genre and, thereby, surely, of American cultural history.

   According to Nickerson, there were two indigenous creative strains in American mystery: the female domestic novel/female Gothic (the Brontes and Mary Elizabeth Braddon are admitted as influences here but not Wilkie Collins or Sheridan Le Fanu); and the hardboiled.

   It seems that despite the existence of Poe, what we think of as the Golden Age detective novel was an artificially transplanted English import, about as American as scones and crumpets. Nickerson dismissively notes these “Golden Age” works for their “tightly woven puzzles and country houses full of amusing guests” and declares that they were “presided over by Agatha Christie and imitated by Americans like S. S. Van Dine.”

   So if you were an American male writing mysteries that emphasized puzzles and had upper middle class/wealthy milieus, you were part of a British tradition and thus not worthy of inclusion in a historical survey of American mystery fiction. But if you were an American woman writing mysteries with puzzles and upper middle class/wealthy milieus, you were part of the American female domestic novel/Female Gothic tradition (even though some of this tradition is British and male) and you make it into the genre survey.

   Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. Personally I think Professor Nickerson should take another look at those “connoisseurs and collectors, with their endless taxonomies, lists and value judgments” who she dismisses so casually. There are still things that an academic scholar writing about the mystery genre can learn from them.

   Granted, they often were men who tended to be overly dismissive of women’s mystery fiction — or at least the suspense strain in it that they mockingly termed “HIBK” (Had I But Known) — but writing important men out of the history of the genre is no way to redress the balance.

   Crime literature may be about violence, but scholars of crime literature should not practice “an eye for an eye.” Doing so does not make for good scholarship.


LEE THAYER – The Scrimshaw Millions. Sears & Co., hardcover, 1932. Hardcover reprint: The Macaulay Company, no date.

   There are five killings in the tale, yet The Scrimshaw Millions is not remotely exciting. What should have been a gripping family extermination murder story on the order of S. S. Van Dine’s grandly baroque The Greene Murder Case (1928), instead is a snoozer the reader has to drive himself to finish.

LEE THAYER The Scrimshaw Millions

   But finish it I did, dear readers! It takes a lot to stop this fellah from plowing through to the end of a Golden Age whodunit, even a fourth- or fifth-tier one. Heck, I’ve read a dozen mysteries by Carolyn Wells!

   In The Scrimshaw Millions someone is fatally poisoning the members of the Scrimshaw family one by one. A fortune is at stake — who will survive to inherit? And how long will it take for you to cease caring one iota?

   To be fair, The Scrimshaw Millions struck me as superior to the books described earlier on this blog by Francis M. Nevins. The prose is serviceable, lacking those purple passages quoted by Nevins (at least until the cosmic retribution denouement Nevins has noted as a common feature of her books).

   The characters, while sticks, are not irritating (except when meant to be — though perhaps we could have done without the Italian houseservant/blackmailer, regrettably named Guido). Generally speaking, you can believe this tale is taking place in the 1930s rather than a half-century earlier, unlike Carolyn Wells’ mysteries from the same decade.

   Moreover, the clueing is respectable. And the murder means used in the five killings is…. Well, while it’s not original to Thayer (and John Rhode used it in a detective novel three years later, though only for a murder attempt late in the book), it’s kind of cute, in Golden Age Baroque fashion.

   However, fatal weaknesses in The Scrimshaw Millions are its slack narrative, its sometimes careless writing and its lack of credible police procedure and scientific detail.

   I have read the claim that the hugely prolific thriller writer Edgar Wallace, who boasted of being able to compose novels over weekends, in the course of one tale managed to change the name of his heroine (i.e., she starts off as Janet, say, and becomes Betty). Yet I had never come across such a phenomenon myself in an Edgar Wallace shocker, or, indeed, in a mystery tale by any other author — until I read Lee Thayer.

   In The Scrimshaw Millions the secretary of that late, unlamented miser, Simon Scrimshaw, is introduced on page 51 as “Evangeline Osgood.” Yet five pages later her surname has changed to “Ogden.”

   And there’s more! Although we are told for most of the tale that Simon’s two spinster sisters — thought at first to have died from heart failure–were both poisoned by “aconite” (I think “aconotine” was meant), late in the book the poison abruptly becomes arsenic.

   All in all, I think it’s fair to say Lee Thayer was playing fast and loose with poisons, as well as with police procedure, in The Scrimshaw Millions. For no credible reason whatsover, three different poisons are used to slay in the tale, all by the same individual murderer: the alchemical aconite/aconotine/arsenic concoction, nicotine and cyanide (the last is later called hydrocyanic acid).

   One might have thought this might have made the police suspicious of the character we are told works in a chemical factory, but, nope! It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone even to cock an eyebrow.

LEE THAYER The Scrimshaw Millions

   You might also think the murderer would have had to have been mad to adopt such an approach to attaining an inheritance. Well, hold on to your hats, it looks like he was:

    “It’s too late now!” The exultant light of madness [shone in his eyes]. [p. 299]

   Nearly forty years ago, Julian Symons labeled certain formerly quite popular and highly regarded detective novelists like John Rhode (a peudonym of Cecil John Charles Street) as “humdrums.” Other, more recent, mystery genre survey authors like P.D. James have followed suit, adopting Symons’ disparaging tone toward these writers.

   Yet, compared to Lee Thayer, I say please, Lord, give me more “humdrums” like John Rhode. The use Rhode makes of science in his tales often is quite fascinating, ingenious, adroit and credible. In The Scrimshaw Millions none of those adjectives can be applied to Thayer’s (mis)use of science.

   Traditionalist American mystery writers of the Golden Age of detection like Lee Thayer and Carolyn Wells often aped, as much they could, the form and milieu of detective novels of superior British counterparts.

   Thayer, for example, clearly seems to have deliberately copied Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter/Bunter master-servant relationship with her own series detective, red-haired Peter Clancy, and his impeccable English manservant, Wiggar (the latter character was introduced by Thayer in 1929, ten years after she had debuted Clancy and six years after Sayers gave the world Lord Peter and Bunter). But Thayer and Wells are but pale shadows of far more substantial authors (and to be sure, there were many first-rate American traditionalists as well).

   Still, the patented Lee Thayer cosmic retribution denouement so aptly described by Mike Nevins is impressive in its own loopy way. In The Scrimshaw Millions the entire house of the murdered miser falls in on the investigators and suspects just after the killer, pressed by the intrepid detective Peter Clancy, makes his mad confession:

    The terrible cry of repudiation rang out in the desolate house, and as if the awful horror in it had terrible power there came a strange, wild shudder, a trembling through all the ancient walls, a hideous splitting crash, and the ceiling above their heads sagged downward, ripped across, and fell. [pp. 299-300]

   Top that if you can, Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot! Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted the roof to collapse on one of those drawing room lectures David Suchet gives in every darn one of his TV productions.

   Providentially, one might say, only the mad murderer is killed when the house collapses in The Scrimshaw Millions. The nice boy lives to marry the nice girl, the policemen survive to continue getting murder cases all wrong, and Wiggar escapes the wreckage to continue happily serving his mildly concussed master Peter Clancy in many another perhaps-something-less-than-entirely-enthralling Lee Thayer mystery.

100 Good Detective Novels
by Mike Grost

   These are all real detective stories: tales in which a mystery is solved by a detective. Real detective fiction tends to go invisible in modern society, in which many people prefer crime fiction without mystery.

   The list is in chronological order but unfortunately omits many major short story writers: G. K. Chesterton, Jacques Futrelle, H. C. Bailey, Edward D. Hoch, and other greats.

Émile Gaboriau, Le Crime d’Orcival (1866)
Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868)
Israel Zangwill, The Big Bow Mystery (1891)
Anna Katherine Green, The Circular Study (1900)
Edgar Wallace, The Four Just Men (1905)
Cleveland Moffett, Through the Wall (1909)
John T. McIntyre, Ashton-Kirk, Investigator (1910)
R. Austin Freeman, The Eye of Osiris (1911)
E. C. Bentley, Trent’s Last Case (1913)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear (1914)
Clinton H. Stagg, Silver Sandals (1914)
Johnston McCulley, Who Killed William Drew? (1917)
Octavus Roy Cohen, Six Seconds of Darkness (1918)
Mary Roberts Rinehart & Avery Hopwood, The Bat (1920)
Donald McGibeny, 32 Caliber (1920)
Carolyn Wells, Raspberry Jam (1920)
Freeman Wills Crofts, The Cask (1920)
A. A. Milne, The Red House Mystery (1922)
G. D. H. Cole, The Brooklyn Murders (1923)
Carroll John Daly, The Snarl of the Beast (1927)
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1927)
Horatio Winslow and Leslie Quirk, Into Thin Air (1929)
Samuel Spewack, Murder in the Gilded Cage (1929)
Thomas Kindon, Murder in the Moor (1929)
Mignon G. Eberhart, While the Patient Slept (1930)
Victor L. Whitechurch, Murder at the College / Murder at Exbridge (1932)
Ellery Queen, The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932)
Anthony Abbot, About the Murder of the Circus Queen (1932)
S. S. Van Dine, The Dragon Murder Case (1933)
Helen Reilly, McKee of Centre Street (1933)
Dermot Morrah, The Mummy Case (1933)
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors (1934)
Milton M. Propper, The Divorce Court Murder (1934)
John Dickson Carr, The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man (1935)
Georgette Heyer, Merely Murder / Death in the Stocks (1935)
David Frome, Mr. Pinkerton Has the Clue (1936)
Nigel Morland, The Case of the Rusted Room (1937)
Cyril Hare, Tenant for Death (1937)
Baynard Kendrick, The Whistling Hangman (1937)
Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie (1938)
R. A. J. Walling, The Corpse With the Blue Cravat / The Coroner Doubts
Dorothy Cameron Disney, Strawstacks / The Strawstack Murders (1938-1939)
Rex Stout, Some Buried Caesar (1938-1939)
Rufus King, Murder Masks Miami (1939)
Theodora Du Bois, Death Dines Out (1939)
Erle Stanley Gardner, The D.A. Draws a Circle (1939)
Agatha Christie, One Two, Buckle My Shoe / An Overdose of Death (1940)
J. J. Connington, The Four Defences (1940)
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
Frank Gruber, The Laughing Fox (1940)
Anthony Boucher, The Case of the Solid Key (1941)
Stuart Palmer, The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan (1941)
Kelley Roos, The Frightened Stiff (1942)
Cornell Woolrich, Phantom Lady (1942)
Frances K. Judd, The Mansion of Secrets (1942)
Helen McCloy, The Goblin Market (1943)
Anne Nash, Said With Flowers (1943)
Mabel Seeley, Eleven Came Back (1943)
Norbert Davis, The Mouse in the Mountain (1943)
Robert Reeves, Cellini Smith: Detective (1943)
Hake Talbot, The Rim of the Pit (1944)
John Rhode, The Shadow on the Cliff / The Four-Ply Yarn (1944)
Allan Vaughan Elston & Maurice Beam, Murder by Mandate (1945)
Walter Gibson, Crime Over Casco (1946)
George Harmon Coxe, The Hollow Needle (1948)
Wade Miller, Fatal Step (1948)
Alan Green, What a Body! (1949)
Hal Clement, Needle (1949)
Bruno Fischer, The Angels Fell (1950)
Jack Iams, What Rhymes With Murder? (1950)
Richard Starnes, The Other Body in Grant’s Tomb (1951)
Richard Ellington, Exit for a Dame (1951)
Lawrence G. Blochman, Recipe For Homicide (1952)
Day Keene, Wake Up to Murder (1952)
Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel (1953)
Henry Winterfeld, Caius ist ein Dummkopf / Detectives in Togas (1953)
Craig Rice, My Kingdom For a Hearse (1956)
Frances and Richard Lockridge, Voyage into Violence (1956)
Harold Q. Masur, Tall, Dark and Deadly (1956)
James Warren, The Disappearing Corpse (1957)
Seicho Matsumoto, Ten to sen (Point and Lines) (1957)
Michael Avallone, The Crazy Mixed-Up Corpse (1957)
Ed Lacy, Shakedown for Murder (1958)
Lenore Glen Offord, Walking Shadow (1959)
Allen Richards, To Market, To Market (1961)
Christopher Bush, The Case of the Good Employer (1966)
Randall Garrett, Too Many Magicians (1967)
Michael Collins, A Dark Power (1968)
Merle Constiner, The Four from Gila Bend (1968)
Bill Pronzini, Undercurrent (1973)
Nicholas Meyer, The West End Horror (1976)
Thomas Chastain, Vital Statistics (1977)
William L. DeAndrea, Killed in the Ratings (1978)
Clifford B. Hicks, Alvin Fernald, TV Anchorman (1980)
Donald J. Sobol, Angie’s First Case (1981)
Kyotaro Nishimura, Misuteri ressha ga kieta (The Mystery Train
Disappears) (1982)
K. K. Beck, Murder in a Mummy Case (1986)
Jon L. Breen, Touch of the Past (1988)
Stephen Paul Cohen, Island of Steel (1988)
Earl W. Emerson, Black Hearts and Slow Dancing (1988)

Editorial Comment: This will do it for today, but I do have one more list to post. David Vineyard sent it to me this morning. It’s a followup to his previous list, consisting of what he calls “100 Important Books From Before the Golden Age.” The cutoff date for these is 1913, which is where his earlier list began. While not all of the books on this new list may be crime fiction, they’re all important to the field. Look for it soon!


HULBERT FOOTNER – Sinfully Rich. Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1940. Reprinted as a Philadelphia Inquirer “Gold Seal Novel”: August 3, 1941. Hardcover reprint: Books Inc., 1944. British edition: Collins Crime Club, hc, 1940.

   Hulbert Footner was a Canadian-American writer who, nearing the age of forty, began publishing mystery tales about the time World War One ended.


   He soon made a good name for himself in the field, particularly with his tales of an early female detective, Madame Rosika Storey. (Madame Storey is who he is remembered for today, when he is remembered.)

   Many of his novels and stories are more accurately characterized as thrillers; and even his tales of putative detection seem more “mystery” than detection, with the author not paying scrupulous attention to the fair play concept (allowing the reader the chance to solve the mystery for him/herself through deciphering clues fairly provided by the author).

   Still, Footner’s works often have “zip” and are entertaining enough, just not necessarily mentally over-rigorous. A good example of his style is one of his later works, Sinfully Rich (1940).

   In Sinfully Rich, a sixty-seven year old millionaire’s widow who has been living it up in New York City smart society after the death of her tightfisted husband is found dead after a big night, all her jewels missing.

   The police and medical examiners think she died naturally and then was robbed, but ace journalist Mike Speedon (who is to inherit a modest sum of $100,000 dollars from the “old dame”) shows the experts what for (journalists — what don’t they know?). He proves the millionairess was murdered (disappointingly so, as the putatively amazing murder method is taken lock, stock and barrel from Dorothy L. Sayers and Unnatural Death, published a dozen years earlier).

   In the classical British manner there is are two wills, a missing nephew, a dubious lawyer, a scheming gigolo and household full of suspicious employees and servants (personal secretary, personal maid, first housemaid, butler and “second man”).

   What more could a mystery fan ask for? Well, a more clever plot, perhaps, but maybe that is being uncharitable on my part. There were many, many mystery novels published in those days, and one cannot reasonably expect sheer brilliance from all of them.


   What is most enjoyable about the book is the interactions of the characters up to the resolution of the mystery. Footner casts a wryly amused glance over the foibles of the wealthy, who have, seemingly, a great deal of time and money to burn.

   Footner treats his readers to glimpses of the high life, US version, but he also encourages them to mock what they see, through the focal character of the cynical, clever, manly reporter, such a classic figure in American film and literature from this period. If it’s rather like a watered-down Dashiell Hammett highball (The Thinner Man, say), at least it goes down smoothly, with no unpleasant aftertaste.

   There is investigation, but no really satisfying ratiocinative process. (I was rather reminded in this respect of the British novelist J. S. Fletcher, whose mystery novels probably were more popular during the Golden Age in the United States than they were in his native Britain.)

   Because there really isn’t fair play, Footner is able to maintain until the end of the novel suspense concerning the question “Whodunit?”; yet some of the fun, for me anyway, is lost.

   If, as Robert Frost opined, free verse is like playing tennis without a net, so is a mystery that does not practice fair play. You can still enjoy it, but you feel a bit cheated! Still, I’ve read far worse mysteries from the period than Sinfully Rich. (See my Carolyn Wells reviews!)

Editorial Comment: A list of the “Gold Seal” novels published in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer (mid-1930s to late 1940s) can be found online here. Many of them were mysteries; others appear to be straight romances.

Serials from ARGOSY published as books
by Denny Lien.

   Nobody [has] mentioned having seen this data reprinted anywhere, and it seemed too interesting to leave unreprinted. So I managed to obtain photocopies of both lists [as published in ARGOSY] and have transcribed the information below. I did change format (using a slash rather than ellipses to separate author and title, using ibid rather than ditto marks, and in the case of the first list moving the asterisk indicators from before title to after title) but did not make any corrections to the actual authors and titles as listed.

   Though I’ll note here that The Single Track appears both as by “Grant Douglas” and “Douglas Grant” — the latter is correct, though in any case this was a pseudonym for Isabel Ostrander.) I also noted after the fact that my original statement that the first list did not include work from GOLDEN ARGOSY was incorrect.

   While the lists speak of “serials,” I notice a few examples where the books were actually derived from story collections or from complete-in-one-issue novels (most obviously Tarzan of the Apes). The asterisk codes in the first list, indicating the book was then in print, were not used in the second.

          — Denny Lien / U of Minnesota Libraries.    [This compilation first appeared on the FictionMags Yahoo list.]

From the December 30, 1933 “Argonotes,” pp. 140-144



At least four hundred ten serials which appeared in ARGOSY, ARGOSY-ALLSTORY, and ALLSTORY were later published in book form. Probably many more have not yet been included, and can be added later to this list which includes several we had not previously announced.

Of the following tales, those with two asterisks (**) are known to be still available in the $2.00 editions in this category; those with one asterisk (*) are available in the 75 cent editions.


Achmed Abdullah / The Man on Horseback
ibid / The Trail of the Beast
ibid / The Mating of the Blades *
Eustace L. Adams / Gambler’s Throw
Stookie Allen / Men of Daring (50 cents) *
Larry Barretto / To Babylon *
H. Bedford-Jones / The Gate of Farewell
ibid / John Solomon, Super-Cargo
ibid / Cyrano
ibid / The King’s Pardon **
Jack Bechdolt / South of Fifty-Three
Max Brand / The Guide to Happiness
ibid / Gun Gentlemen
ibid / Senor Jingle Bells *
ibid / His Third Master
ibid / Kain
ibid / The Stranger at the Gate
ibid / Tiger
ibid / Black Jack
ibid / The Garden of Eden
ibid / The Night Horseman *
ibid / The Seventh Man *
ibid / Dan Barry’s Daughter *
ibid / The Longhorn Feud **
George J. Brent / Voices
Loring Brent / Peter the Brazen
ibid / No More a Corpse **
John Buchan / The Three Hostages
Charles Neville Buck / Flight in the Hills
ibid / A Gentleman in Pajamas
Edgar Rice Burroughs / The Chessmen of Mars *
ibid / Tarzan the Terrible *
ibid / Tarzan and the Golden Lion *
ibid / Tarzan and the Ant Men *
ibid / The Bandit of Hell’s Bend *
ibid / The Moon Maid *
ibid / The War Chief *
ibid / Apache Devil **
ibid / Tarzan and the City of Gold **
Evelyn Campbell / The Knight of Lonely Land
Stanley Hart Cauffman / The Ghost of Gallows Hill
Robert Orr Chipperfield / Above Suspicion
ibid / Bright Lights
Arthur Hunt Chute / Far Gold
John Boyd Clarke / Findings Is Keepings
Frank Condon and Charlton R. Edholm / The Dancing Doll
Courtney Ryley Cooper / Caged
S.R. Crockett / Hal o’ the Ironsides
Ray Cummings / The Sea Girl
ibid / The Man Who Mastered Time *
Captain A.E. Dingle / Gold Out of Celebes
E. and J. Dorrance / Flames of the Blue Ridge
Grant Douglas / The Single Track
H.S. Drago and Joseph Noel / Whispering Sage
Harry Sinclair Drago / Following the Grass
ibid / The Snow Patrol
ibid / Smoke of the .45
ibid / Out of the Silent North
J. Allen Dunn / The Death Gamble
J. Breckenridge Ellis / The Picture on the Wall
Laurie York Erskine / The Confidence Man *
ibid / The Coming of Cosgrove *
ibid / The Laughing Rider *
ibid / Valor of the Range *
Hulbert Footner / A Self-Made Thief *
ibid / Officer!
ibid / Gentlman Roger’s Girl
ibid / The Velvet Hand *
ibid / Queen of Clubs *
ibid / Madame Storey
ibid / The Under Dogs *
ibid / The Doctor Who Held Hands *
ibid / Easy to Kill *
W. Bert Foster / From Six to Six *
David Fox / The Doom Dealer
ibid / The Handwriting on the Wall
ibid / Ethel Opens the Door
Edgar Franklin / White Collars
W.A. Fraser / Caste
Oscar J. Friend / Click of the Triangle T *
ibid / The Mississippi Hawk *
ibid / The Range Maverick *
Sinclair Gluck / Red Emeralds
John Goodwin / The Sign of the Serpent
Douglas Grant / Two-Gun Sue *
ibid / The Single Track
ibid / The Fifth Ace
ibid / Booty
Zane Grey / The Rainbox Trail *
ibid / The Lone Star Ranger *
Augusta Groner and Grace Isabel Colbron / The Lady in Blue
Katherine Haviland-Taylor / Yellow Soap
Arthur Preston Hankins / Cavern Gold
James B. Hendryx / Prairie Flower
ibid / Without Gloves *
ibid / Snowdrift *
John Holden / Prairie Shock *
Rupert Sargent Holland / The Mystery of the Opal
Fred Jackson / The Third Act
George M. Johnson / The Gun-Slinger
ibid / Squatter’s Rights *
ibid / Trouble Ranch
ibid / Riders of the Trail *
ibid / Jerry Rides the Range **
ibid / Tickets to Paradise **
ibid / Spyglass Range **
Rufus King / North Star *
Otis Adelbert Kline / The Planet of Peril
ibid / Maza of the Moon
ibid / The Prince of Peril
Slater LaMaster / The Phantom in the Rainbow
Harold Lamb / Marching Sands
A.T. Locke / Hell Bent Harrison *
Francis Lynde / David Vallory
Fred MacIsaac / The Vanishing Professor
ibid / The Hole in the Wall
ibid / The Mental Marvel
F.v.W. Mason / Captain Nemesis **
Johnston McCulley / The Mark of Zorro
ibid / The Further Adventures of Zorro
Lyon Mearson / The Whisper on the Stair
A. Merritt / The Ship of Ishtar
ibid / Seven Footprints to Satan
ibid / The Face in the Abyss
ibid / The Dwellers in the Mirage **
ibid / Burn, Witch, Burn! **
Mulford, Clarence E. / Hopalong Cassidy Returns *
ibid / Hopalong Cassidy’s Protege *
Talbot Mundy / Ho! for London Town
ibid / When Trails Were New
George Washington Ogden / Claim Number One
ibid / Trail’s End
ibid / The Duke of Chimney Butte
ibid / The Flockmaster of Poison Creek
ibid / A Man from the Badlands **
Frederic Ormond / The Three Keys
Isabel Ostrander / McCarthy Incog *
ibid / Dust to Dust *
ibid / Annihilation *
ibid / How Many Cards
ibid / Mathematics of Guilt
ibid / Liberation
Frank L. Packard / Pawned *
ibid / The Four Stragglers *
ibid / The Locked Book *
ibid / The Big Shot *
ibid / The Gold Skull Murders *
ibid / The Hidden Door **
ibid / The Purple Ball **
Lawrence Perry / Holton of the Navy
Kenneth Perkins / Strange Treasure
ibid / The Beloved Brute
ibid / The Gun Fanner
ibid / Gold *
ibid / Voodoo’d *
ibid / The Moccasin Murders *
ibid / The Canon of Light *
ibid / Ride Him, Cowboy *
ibid / The Discard
ibid / Starlit Trail
ibid / Wild Paradise
E.J. Rath / Mr. 44
ibid / Sam
ibid / The Nervous Wreck
Victor Rousseau / Wooden Spoil
ibid / The Big Muskeg
John Schoolcraft / The Bird of Passage
Charles Alden Seltzer / Lonesome Ranch *
ibid / The Trail Horde *
ibid / The Vengeance of Jefferson Gawne *
ibid / The Ranchman *
ibid / Beau Rand *
ibid / Drag Harlan *
ibid / Square Deal Sanderson *
ibid / The Way of the Buffalo *
ibid / Channing Comes Through *
ibid / Brass Commandments *
ibid / The Gentleman from Virginia *
ibid / Last Hope Ranch *
ibid / The Valley of the Stars *
ibid / Land of the Free *
ibid / Mystery Range *
ibid / The Mesa *
ibid / The Raider *
ibid / The Red Brand *
ibid / Gone North *
ibid / Double Cross Ranch *
ibid / War on Wishbone Range **
ibid / Clear the Trail **
George C. Shedd / The Invisible Enemy
ibid / In the Shadow of the Hills
Perley Poore Sheehan / Apache Gold
Garret Smith / I Did It *
Raymond S. Spears / The Flying Coyotes *
Louis Lacy Stevenson / Big Game
Charles B. Stilson / A Cavalier of Navarre
ibid / The Ace of Blades
T.S. Stribling / East is East
ibid / Blackwater
Albert Payson Terhune / Black Wings
ibid / Blundell’s Last Guest *
Lee Thayer / That Affair at “The Cedars”
Louis Tracy / The Passing of Charles lanson
W.C. Tuttle / The Silver Bar Mystery **
Stanley Waterloo / A Son of the Ages
Don Waters / The Call of Shining Steel *
ibid / Pounding the Rails *
Carolyn Wells / The Vanishing of Betty Varian
ibid / The Man Who Fell Through the Earth
ibid / More Lives Than One
ibid / The Bronze Hand
William Patterson White / The Buster *
Frank Williams / The Harbor of Doubt
George F. Worts / The Silver Fang
ibid / Who Dares *
ibid / The Blacksander *
ibid / Red Darkness
ibid / The Haunted Yacht Club


Achmed Abdullah / The Blue-Eyed Mandarin
ibid / Bucking the Tiger
ibid / Night Drums *
ibid / The Red Stain
ibid / Wings
Robert Aitken / The Golden Horseshoe
John Charles Beecham / The Argus Pheasant
Leslie Burton Blades / Claire
Earl Wayland Bowman / The Ramblin’ Kid
Cyris Townsend Brady / Britton of the Seventh
ibid / The Eagle of the Empire
ibid / The Patriots
Max Brand / Trailin’ *
ibid / The Untamed *
John Buchan / Salute to Adventurers *
ibid / The Thirty-Nine Steps
Charles Neville Buck / Destiny
ibid / When Bercat Went Dry
Edgar Rice Burroughs / The Beasts of Tarzan *
ibid / The Gods of Mars *
ibid / The Mucker *
ibid / A Princess of Mars *
ibid / The Son of Tarzan *
ibid / Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar *
ibid / Tarzan of the Apes *
ibid / Tarzan the Untamed *
ibid / Thuvia, Maid of Mars *
ibid / The Warlord of Mars *
ibid / Pellucidar *
ibid / The Mad King *
ibid / The Eternal Lover *
ibid / The Cave Girl *
ibid / At the Earth’s Core *
ibid / The Monster Men *
Octavus Roy Cohen / The Crimson Alibi
ibid / Gray Dusk
Will Levington Comfort / The Yellow Lord
Ridgwell Cullum / The Way of the Strong
Ray Cummings / The Girl in the Golden Atom
Charles Belmont Davis / Nothing a Year
George Dilnot / Suspected
Ethel and James Dorrance / Glory Rides the Range
George Allan England / The Alibi
ibid / Cursed
ibid / The Flying Legion
ibid / Pod, Bender & Co.
Jacob Fisher / The Quitter
A.H. Fitch / The Breath of the Dragon
Hulbert Footner / The Deaves Affair
ibid / The Fur Bringers
ibid / The Owl Taxi
ibid / The Huntress
ibid / The Sealed Valley
ibid / The Substitute Millionaire
ibid / The Woman from Outside
ibid / On Swan River
ibid / The Fugitive Sleuth
ibid / The Chase of the Linda Belle
David Fox / The Shadowers
Edgar Franklin / In and Out
ibid / Comeback
Arnold Fredericks / The Film of Fear
R. Austin Freeman / A Silent Witness *
Allen French / Hiding Places
Frank Froest / The Maelstrom
J.U. Giesy / Mimi
George Gilbert / Midnight of the Ranges
Jackson Gregory / The Joyous Troublemaker
ibid / Ladyfingers
ibid / The Short Cut
ibid / Six Feet Four
ibid / Wolf Breed
Zane Grey / The Border Legion *
Thomas W. Hanshew / The Riddle of the Night
Horace Hazeltine / The City of Encounters
James B. Hendryx / The Gold Girl
ibid / The Gun-Brand
ibid / The Promise
ibid / The Texan *
C.C. Hotchkins / Maude Baxter
ibid / The Red Paper
Eleanor Ingram / A Man’s Hearth
Jeremy Lane / Yellow Men Asleep
Henry Leverage / Where Dead Men Walk
Natalie Sumner Lincoln / The Moving Finger
ibid / The Red Seal
Francis Lynde / Branded
Johnson McCulley / Broadway Bab
ibid / Captain Fly-by-Night
Everett MacDonald / The Red Debt
Grace Sartwell Mason / The Golden Hope
E.K. Means / E.K. Means
ibid / More E.K. Means
ibid / Further E.K. Means
A. Merritt / The Moon Pool
Philip Verrill Mighels / Hearts of Grace
George Washington Ogden / The Rustler of Wind River
ibid / Steamboat Gold *
E. Phillips Oppenheim / The Curious Quest *
William Hamilton Osborne / The Catspaw
Isabel Ostrander / Ashes to Ashes
ibid / The Clue in the Air
ibid / Suspense
ibid / The Twenty-Six Clues
Frank L. Packard / The Beloved Traitor
ibid / From Now On *
ibid / The Sin That Was His
Randall Parrish / Comrades of Peril
ibid / Contraband
ibid / The Devil’s Own
ibid / The Strange Case of Cavendish
William MacLeod Raine / The Big Town Roundup
ibid / The Sheriff’s Son
E.J. Rath / Too Many Crooks
ibid / Too Much Efficiency
Mary Roberts Rinehart / The Circular Staircase *
ibid / The Man in Lower Ten *
C.A. Robbins / The Unholy Three
Charles G.D. Roberts / Jim
Lee Robinet / The Forest Maiden
C. MacLean Savage / The Turn of the Sword
John Reed Scott / The Man in Evening Clothes
Garrett P. Serviss / A Columbus of Space
Perley Poore Sheehan / The House With a Bad Name
ibid / If You Believe It, It’s So
ibid / The Passport Invisible
ibid / Those Who Walk in Darkness
Perley Poore Sheehan and Robert H. Davis / We Are French!
Robert Simpson / The Bite of Benin
ibid / Swamp Breath
Martha M. Stanley / The Souls of Men
Jack Steele / The House of Iron Men
Elizabeth Sutton / Dead Fingers
Albert Payson Terhune / Dad
ibid / The Unlatched Door
Harold Titus / Bruce of the Circle A
ibid / I Conquered
Louis Tracy / His Unknown Wife
Varick Vanardy / The Lady of the Night Wind
ibid / Something Doing
ibid / The Two-Faced Man
Louis Joseph Vance / The Black Bag
ibid / The Bronze Bell
Charles Edmonds Walk / The Paternoster Ruby
Ann Warner / The Tigress
Carolyn Wells / The Curved Blades
ibid / Faulkner’s Folly
ibid / Vicky Van
ibid / Raspberry Jam
Frank Williams / The Harbor of Doubt
C.N. and A.M. Williamson / Everyman’s Land
ibid / A Soldier of the Legion


Horatio Alger, Jr. / Do and Dare
ibid / Hector’s Inheritance
ibid / The Store Boy
ibid / work and Win
ibid / Helping Himself
ibid / Facing the World
ibid / In a New World
ibid / Struggling Upward
ibid / Bob Burton
ibid / The Young Acrobat
ibid / Dean Dunham
ibid / Luke Walton
ibid / Five Hundred Dollars
ibid / Driven from Home
ibid / The Erie Train Boy
ibid / Tom Turner’s Legacy
ibid / Walter Sherwood’s Probation
ibid / Digging for Gold
ibid / Debt of Honor
ibid / Jed
ibid / Chester Rand
ibid / Lester’s Luck
ibid / Rupert’s Ambition
ibid / The Young Salesman
ibid / Andy Grant’s Pluck
ibid / A Cousin’s Conspiracy
George H. Coomer / Boys in the Forecastle
Edward S. Ellis / Arthur Helmuth
ibid / Check No. 2134
G.A. Henty / Facing Peril
Frank A. Munsey / A Tragedy of Errors
ibid / The Boy Broker
ibid / Under Fire
ibid / Afloat in a Great City
ibid / Harry’s Scheme
Matthew White, Jr. / Eric Dane
ibid / The Adventures of a Young Athlete
ibid / My Mysterious Fortune
ibid / The Young Editor
ibid / The Tour of a Private Car
ibid / Guy Hammersley


From the June 23, 1934 “Argonotes, ” pp. 141-144



Thanks to the cooperation of readers Dale Morgan, R.L. Rocklin, and Julius Schwartz, and by further search of our own records, we have located more books from ARGOSY serials.

From ARGOSY alone, at least 368 books have been made. And in the other half of the ARGOSY–ALLSTORY WEEKLY — ALLSTORY — there were 195 books. For the first time we have made a list of CAVALIER books before its merger with ALLSTORY — 76 books, plus eight more in OCEAN and SCRAP BOOK which were merged with it. And there were 13 books from RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE, merged with ARGOSY. 563 books from ARGOSY and ALLSTORY alone — and a grand total of 660 books serialized in the magazines which made up to-day’s ARGOSY!

Six hundred and sixty books since ARGOSY was founded in 1882. We’d be surprised if any other magazine can come within several hundreds of that total. And ARGOSY goes on — we know of several recent serials now on the book publishers’ presses, soon to be announced.

The following books were not included in the 410 listed Dec. 30 (a list which included several duplications and errors, all cancelled in totaling our 660):


Frank Aubrey / A Queen of Atlantis
Edwin Baird / The Heart of Virginia Keep
Richard Barry / The Big Gun
Nalbro Bartley / The Whistling Girl
St. Clair Beall / The Winning of Sarenne
H. Bedford-Jones / The Seal of John Solomon
Arnold Bennett / The Grand Babylonian Hotel
Robert Ames Bennet / Sunnie of Timberline
Max Brand / The Sword Lover
Edgar Rice Burroughs / Pirates of Venus
H.D. Chetwode / John of Strathbourne
William Wallace Cook / The Fateful Seventh
ibid / The Eighth Wonder
ibid / The Desert Argonaut
ibid / The Sheriff of Broken Bow
ibid / An Innocent Outlaw
ibid / Jim Dexter, Cattleman
ibid / The Gold Gleaners
ibid / In the Wake of the Simitar
ibid / A Round Trip to the Year 2000
ibid / Cast Away at the Pole
ibid / Adrift in the Unknown
ibid / Marooned in 1492
ibid / The Cats-Paw
ibid / At Daggers Drawn
ibid / Rogers of Butte
ibid / The Spur of Necessity
W. Carleton Daws / The Voyage of the Pulo Way
Burford Delanncy / The Midnight Special
J. Allan Dunn / The Isle of Drums
ibid / A Man to His Mate
ibid / Fortune Unawares
Knarf Elivas / John Ship, Mariner
J.S. Fletcher / The Double Chance
Edgar Franklin / Mr. Hawkins’ Humorous Adventures
John Frederick / Luck
ibid / Pride of Tyson
Thomas Griffiths and Armstrong Livingston / The Ju-Ju Man
John H. Hamlin / Range Rivals
Donald Bayne Hobart / The Whistling Waddy
J.M. Hoffman / Six-Foot Lightning
Fred Jackson / The Diamond Necklace
George M. Johnson / Texas Range Rider
Rufus King / Whelp of the Winds
William Le Quieux / An Eye for an Eye
Henry Leverage / The Purple Limited
Will Levinrew / The Poison Plague
Fred MacIssac / Burnt Money
Arthur W. Marchmont / When I Was Czar
ibid / By Right of Sword
ibid / A Dash for a Throne
Edison Marshall / The Tiger Trail
Wyndham Martyn / The Mysterious Mr. Garland
William Stevens McNutt / The Endless Chain
Elizabeth York Miller / The Greatest Gamble
William D. Moffat / The Crimson Banner
ibid / Not Without Honor
Sinclair Murray ./ The Crucible
George Washington Ogden / The Ghost Road
ibid / The Trail Rider
ibid / The Well Shooters
John Oxenham / God’s Prisoner
Max Pemberton / The Phantom Army
Kenneth Perkins / Fast Trailin’
ibid / The Devil’s Saddle
Frank Lillie Pollock / Frozen Fortune
William MacLeod Raine / Steve Yeager
ibid / Moran Beats Back
E.J. Rath / Gas–Drive In
John P. Ritter / The Man Who Dared
Victor Rousseau / The Big Man of Bonne Chance
ibid / The Golden Horde
ibid / My Lady of the Nile
ibid / Mrs. Aladdin
Edwin L. Sabin / The Rose of Santa Fe
Frank Savile / Beyond the Great South Wall
F.K. Scribner / The Secret of Frontellac
Charles Alden Seltzer / Slow Burgess
ibid / Trailing Back
Garrett P. Serviss / The Moon Maiden
Perley Poore Sheehan / Three Sevens
Garret Smith / Between Worlds
Georges Surdez / Swords of the Soudan
W.C. Tuttle / Bluffer’s Luck
C.C. Waddell / Midnight to High Noon
Frank Williams / The Wilderness Trail

ARGOSY (Juveniles)

Harry Castlemon / Don Gordon’s Shooting Box
Edward S. Ellis / The Last Trail
ibid / Campfire and Wigwam
ibid / Footprints in the Forest
ibid / The Camp in the Mountains
ibid / The Last War Trail
ibid / Red Eagle
ibid / Blazing Arrow
W. Bert Foster / In Alaskan Waters
ibid / Arthur Blaisdell’s Choices
ibid / A Lost Expedition
ibid / The Treasure of South Lake Farm
ibid / The Quest of the Silver Swan
William Murray Graydon / With Cossack and Convict
Oliver Optic / Making a Man of Himself
ibid / Every Inch a Boy
ibid / Always in Luck
ibid / The Young Pilot
ibid / The Cruise of the Dandy
ibid / The Young Hermit
ibid / The Prisoners of the Cave
ibid / Among the Missing
Edward Stratemeyer / Reuben Stone’s Discovery
ibid / True to Himself
ibid / Richard Dare’s Venture


Achmed Abdullah / A Buccaneer in Spats
ibid / The Honourable Gentleman and Others
Achmed Abdullah, Max Brand, E.R. Means, and P.P. Sheehan / The Ten-Foot Chain
Edwin Baird / The City of Purple Dreams
H. Bedford-Jones / Loot
ibid / A Three-Fold Cord
John Charles Beechams / The Yellow Spider
Max Brand / The Children of Night
ibid / Clung
ibid / Who Am I?
ibid / Fate’s Honeymoon
J. Storer Clouston / Two’s Two
William Wallace Cook / Thorndyke of the Bonita
ibid / Back from Bedlam
ibid / The Deserter
ibid / The Last Dollar
ibid / In the Web
ibid / The Goal of a Million
Capt. A.e. Dingle / The Island Woman
ibid / The Pirate Woman
Maurice Drake / The Ocean Sleuth
J.S. Fletcher / The Diamonds
Juliette Gordon-Smith / The Wednesday Wife
James B. Hendryx / The One Big Thing
Headon Hill / Sir Vincent’s Patient
Henry Leverage / The White Cipher
Frederick Ferdiand Moore / Sailor Girl
George Washington Ogden / The Bondboy
William MacLeod Raine / A Daughter of the Dons
E.J. Rath / The Brat
ibid / A Good Indian
ibid / Elope if You Must
ibid / Good References
ibid / Once Again
ibid / When the Devil Was Sick
C.A. Robbins / Silent, White, and Beautiful
Victor Rousseau / Jacqueline of Golden River
ibid / The Lion’s Jaws
ibid / Draft of Eternity
ibid / The Big Malopo
ibid / The Sea Demons
Perley Poore Sheehan / The Bayou Shrine
ibid / The Whispering Chorus
August Weissl / The Mystery of the Green Car
C.N. & A.M. Williamson / This Woman to This Man


Frank R. Adams / Five Fridays
Arthur Applin / The Girl Who Saved His Honor
Robert Barr / Cardillac
Arnold Bennett / Hugo
Cyrus Townsend Brady / The Sword Hand of Napoleon
Victor Bridges / Another Man’s Shoes
Edgar Beecher Bronson / The Vanguard
Charles Neville Buck / The Portal of Dreams
ibid / The Call of the Cumberlands
Stephen Chambers / When Love Calls Men to Arms
Dane Coolidge / The Fighting Fool
F. Marion Crawford / The Undesirable Governess
Florence Crewe-Jones / The Inner Man
ibid / The Red Nights of Paris
James Oliver Curwood / Flower of the North
ibid / Isabel
Beulah Marie Dix / The Fighting Blade
Maurice Drake / The Salving of a Derelict
James Francis Dwyer / The White Waterfall
ibid / The Spotted Panther
George Allan England / The Golden Blight
ibid / Darkness and Dawn
Jacob Fisher / The Cradle of the Deep
Herbert Flowerdew / The Villa Mystery
Hulbert Footner / Jack Chanty
Arnold Fredericks / One Million Francs
ibid / The Ivory Snuff Box
ibid / The Blue Lights
ibid / The Little Fortune
Tom Gallon / As He Was Born
J.U. Giesy/ All for His Country
Rufus Gillmore / The Alster Case
John Goodwin / Without Mercy
Jackson Gregory / Under Handicap
ibid / The Outlaw
H. Rider Haggard / Morning Star
Forrest Halsey / The Stain
Horace Hazeltine / The Snapdragon
James B. Hendryx / Marquard the Silent
Maurice Hewlett / Brazenhead the Great
Fred Jackson / The Gripful of Trouble
Elizabeth Kent / Who?
William Le Queux / The Room of Secrets
James Locke / The Stem of the Crimson Dahlia
ibid / The Plotting of Frances Ware
Caroline Lockhart / The Full of the Moon
Harold McGrath / Pidgin Island
William Brown Maloney / The Girl of the Golden Gate
Philip Verrill Mighels / As It Was in the Beginning
Edward Bredinger Mitchell / The Shadow of the Crescent
Frederick Ferdinand Moore / The Devil’s Admiral
E. Phillips Oppenheim / Mr. Marx’s Secret
Isabel Ostrander (Lamb) / The Heritage of Cain
ibid / At 1:30
Frank L. Packard / Greater Love Hath No Man
William McLeod Raine / The Pirate of Panama
E.J. Rath / Something for Nothing
ibid / The Mantle of Silence
ibid / The Sky’s the Limit
Mary Roberts Rinehart / Where There’s a Will
Theodore Goodridge Roberts / Two Shall Be Born
ibid / Jess of the River
E. Serao / King of the Camorra
Garrett P. Serviss / The Second Deluge
Ralph Stock / Marama
Arthur Stringer / The Shadow
Alice Stuyvesant / The Hidden House
Louis Tracy / One Wonderful Night
Varick Vanardy / Alias the Night Wind
ibid / The Night Wind’s Promise
ibid / The Return of the Night Wind
Louis Joseph Vance / The Destroying Angel
ibid / The Day of Days
Henry Kitchell Webster / The Ghost Girl
John Fleming Wilson / The Princess of Sorry Valley


Robert Ames Bennet / Into the Primitive
Stephen Chalmers / A Prince of Romance
ibid / The Vanishing Smuggler
William Wallace Cook / Fools for Luck
ibid / A Deep Sea Game
ibid / Frisbie of San Antone
Albert Dorrington / The Radium Terrors
Crittendon Marriott / Isle of Dead Ships


Harold Bindloss / By Right of Purchase
Max Brand / Harrigan
William Wallace Cook / Running the Signal
ibid / The Paymaster’s Special
ibid / Dare, of Darling & Co.
ibid / Trailing the Josephine
Emmet F. Harte / Honk and Horace
Johnston McCulley / A White Man’s Chance
Bannister Merwin / The Girl and the Hill
Randall Parrish / The Highway of Adventure
E.J. Rath / Let’s Go (Sixth Speed)
Victor Rousseau / Eric of the Strong Heart
Louis Joseph Vance / The Brass Bowl

MIKE GROST on Isabel Ostrander:

   The opening of Isabel Ostrander’s The Clue in the Air (1917) is a full intuitionist detective novel. There is a Dying Message. There is a description of a whole apartment building, and the suspects living on various floors and corners — a description that could have served as a blueprint for the many Golden Age novels which have elaborate floor plans in their stories.


   The detectives also investigate alibis and time tables. Unfortunately, this does not lead to a classic puzzle plot. Ostrander unravels all the threads of her story, but does not show any great ingenuity in the Christie tradition.

   Still, the whole tone of the novel anticipates the storytelling of Christie, Queen and other intuitionists of the Golden Age. Ostrander, like other American women writers such as Lee Thayer and Carolyn Wells, was writing intuitionist detective novels at an early date: in the 1910’s, and long before the famous British writers like Christie and Crofts, who allegedly started the Golden Age in 1920.

   Thayer and Wells dealt with the domestic realm in their tales: a house full of suspects, whose motives sprung from their personal relationships with each other and the deceased. This was in marked contrast to the public realm writers of the American Scientific school, where motives spring from business relationships, theft, politics and civic corruption.

   Ostrander has plenty of domestic motives. But she also has a young inventor and his plane. A typical scientific school, business type issue. Similarly, in At One-Thirty (1915) we have domestic motives for some characters (a tangle of jealousy and adulterous relationships) and business issues motivatingothers (a detailed look at a Wall Street swindle).

   Business issues in Christie et al tend to be somewhat perfunctory. Someone will threaten to kill someone because they are double crossing them in a business deal. The motive is not developed into a major story, the way the American Scientific School would do it.


   For example, everything about the missing cashier and the embezzlement in The Circular Staircase is elaborately plotted. Ostrander straddles both traditions in her books.

   Another difference between the two schools. The intuitionists play attention to the crime scene, and the movements of the suspects around it during the crime. This is not generally true of the American Scientific School. A possible exception: Cohen’s Six Seconds of Darkness.

   This motion around the crime scene probably is a consequence of impossible crimes: one cannot have a Zangwill-Chesterton rearrangement in space and time, without tracking the characters’ movements.

   But it spreads to writers that are not always impossible crime oriented, such as SS Van Dine, Anthony Abbot, and Ellery Queen. It was also found in Doyle, in stories like “The Naval Treaty.” This was before the main impossible crime movement.

   The central mystery plot of Ostrander’s At One-Thirty (1915) is a straightforward imitation of Bentley’s Trent’s Last Case (1913). This shows that Ostrander was reading British mystery novels.

   Ostrander’s book is very similar to Golden Age mystery fiction to come, with murder among a closed circle of suspects in a wealthy home. Here as elsewhere, Ostrander introduces a whole slew of suspects, each with a different subplot.

   Servants tend to be prominent characters in Ostrander, just as they are in Bentley. They do not tend to be the anonymous functionaries of Christie, who fade into the background. Instead they play major roles in the stories.


   Ostrander’s The Tattooed Arm (1921) has her police detective hero Sergeant Miles go undercover into a wealthy Long Island home as a servant, and much of the story is narrated from the servants’ hall and point of view.

   Scientific School writers sometimes paid close attention to issues of spousal abuse. These stories are fully feminist, and remind one of the attention that the women’s movement focused on this issue in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Ostrander also continues this tradition. At One-Thirty has a very detailed look at the problems of an abused wife.

   At One-Thirty centers on blind detective Damon Gaunt. Ostrander does a vivid job of evoking his world of sound, touch and smell. Gaunt makes many brilliant deductions from these senses, in a way that evokes Sherlock Holmes’ numerous deductions about his clients.

   Gaunt’s main detective work centers around flashes of insight into the situations in front of him. Ostrander makes it clear that he solves mysteries by pure thinking. This is definitely in the intuitionist tradition, and recalls both Sherlock Holmes before him, and such Golden Age intuitionist writers to come as Christie, Milne and Queen.

   Bibliographic data:    [Taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin.]

OSTRANDER, ISABEL (Egenton). 1883-1924. Pseudonyms: Robert Orr Chipperfield, David Fox & Douglas Grant. (Books published under the latter three pen names are not included here.)

      At One-Thirty (n.) Watt 1915
      The Crevice [with William J. Burns] (n.) Watt 1915
      The Heritage of Cain (n.) Watt 1916


      The Clue in the Air (n.) Watt 1917 [Timothy McCarty]
      Island of Intrigue (n.) McBride 1918
      Suspense (n.) McBride 1918
      Ashes to Ashes (n.) McBride 1919
      The Twenty-Six Clues (n.) Watt 1919 [Timothy McCarty]


      How Many Cards? (n.) McBride 1920 [Timothy McCarty]


      The Crimson Blotter (n.) McBride 1921
      McCarty, Incog (n.) McBride 1922 [Timothy McCarty]
      The Tattooed Arm (n.) McBride 1922
      Annihilation (n.) McBride 1924 [Timothy McCarty]
      Dust to Dust (n.) McBride 1924


      Liberation (n.) McBride 1924
      The Black Joker (n.) McBride 1925
      The Neglected Clue (n.) McBride 1925
      The Mathematics of Guilt (n.) McBride 1926


      The Sleeping Cat (n.) McBride 1926
      The Sleeping Cop [with Christopher B. Booth] (n.) Chelsea House 1927

[Editorial Comments.]

   Please see Mike Grost’s website A GUIDE TO CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTION for more essays such as this on the history of Detective Fiction. If it’s your first visit, you’re bound to stay quite a while — and to come back often.

   For further discussion of Carolyn Wells and Mary Roberts Rinehart, among other contemporaneous authors, see the comments that follow Bill Pronzini’s review of Carolyn Wells’ novel, The Wooden Indian.