William F. Deeck

XANTIPPE – Death Catches Up with Mr. Kluck. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1935. Film: Universal/Crime Club, 1938, as Danger on the Air (with Nan Grey as Christina “Steenie” MacCorkle & Donald Woods as Benjamin Franklin Butts).

XANTIPPE Death Catches Up with Mr. Kluck

   The Mr. Kluck, inventor, owner, and manager of Kluck’s Korjul — “Feeling depressed? Headache? Nervous? Drink Kluck’s Korjul. Lack pep, vitality? How about the sparkle in your eyes? Do you attract the opposite sex? For vim, vitality and vigor, drink Kluck’s Korjul, America’s fastest selling drink. . . ” — is at Radio Forum, Consolidated Broadcasting Company’s new studios, to watch one of his radio programs being produced. Unfortunately, he is a much unloved man, and no one mourns him when he dies in a sponsor’s room.

   Kluck’s death is a complex one, first attributed to a heart attack, then to arsenic, and finally to carbon monoxide poisoning through the ventilating system. Doing the amateur investigating is Benjamin Franklin Butts, with the help of Finny McCorkle, of McCorkle, McCorkle, and Fish, radio productions. Butts has encyclopedic knowledge and Finny writes mystery scripts for radio.

   Xantippe’s view of early radio, its alleged talent, and its programs is delightful and illustrates the saying that the more things change the more they stay the same. Even the footnotes are amusing, as well as being informative. The predictions for what radio might do for good and for harm are especially fascinating.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 1989.

Editorial Comments: Bill Deeck did not know, or I assume that he would have mentioned it, but the exotically named Xantippe was the pseudonym of Edith Meiser, 1898-1993, herself the writer and producer of many radio programs, including the long-running Sherlock Holmes series, including the one that starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce for many years. One online source states that she wrote over 300 radio scripts for the series, far more stories than Sir Arthur did himself!

   Xanthippe (meaning blonde horse in the Greek) was the wife of Socrates and the mother of their three sons. There may be some significance to this.

   A complete listing of the Crime Club movies can be found in this preceding post from not too long ago. Danger on the Air itself has been released on DVD by