William F. Deeck

ANTHONY ABBOT – The Shudders. Farrar & Rinehart, US, hardcover, 1943. Hardcover reprint: Detective Book Club, 3-in-1 edition, February 1943. UK title: Deadly Secret: Collins, hc, 1943.

    “The author requests that in discussing The Shudders readers and reviewers do not give away its plot.” An understandable request by Anthony Abbot (who in reality was Fulton Oursler), one must admit, since the plot is asinine.


    Still, a reviewer must mention something about the book, besides declaiming that Anthony Abbot, the narrator and Watson for Thatcher Colt, is an even bigger twit than S.S. Van Dine, the narrator and Watson for Philo Vance, which is a claim many won’t believe until they encounter Abbot the narrator.

    Briefly then — and I hope that Abbot’s shade does not come back to haunt me — Thatcher Colt, New York City Police Commissioner, more detective than administrator, has been responsible for the conviction of a villain who poisoned his boss and mentor and made off with two million never-located dollars.

    The evening he is to be executed, the poisoner asks Colt to visit with him. He warns Colt that an even greater villain — a Dr. Baldwin — who kills for sport and who kills undetectably is lurking about ready to do untold damage.

    The poisoner is executed, with Colt looking on, and then Colt begins an unsuccessful three-year search for Baldwin. One day the former warden of the prison at which the poisoner was executed rushes into Colt’s office to tell him that he has met Dr. Baldwin, that the poisoner’s executioners are dying off, and that the warden is to be next.

    He also has more important information to impart, but he’s too busy talking about side issues to do so, and then he dies — of apparently natural causes.

    Why is Dr. Baldwin seemingly avenging the executed poisoner? It’s all too silly and impossible to narrate, even if the author’s request was to be flouted even more than I have, already.

    Skip this one.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 9, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1987.

Editorial Comment:   I’ll post a review by Mike Nevins of Anthony Abbot’s About the Murder of the Clergyman’s Mistress next. At the end of his comments, he points out that the last two Abbot mysteries, The Creeps and The Shudders, are said to have been written by someone else.

    And, yes, it appears to be so, or at least it’s highly conjectured to be true. In Part 7 of the online Addenda to his Revised Crime Fiction IV, Al Hubin names Oscar Schisgall as the probable suspect.

    Which makes me curious, of course. Why should Fulton Oursler have farmed off his series character to someone to write up his last two adventures? If anyone knows or learns more, please elucidate!