Craig Kennedy rides again in two more exciting books
In Craig Kennedy the American nation might justifiably lay claim to their own Sherlock Holmes, for here is a detective whose activities projected him into the modern age. Where Conan Doyle’s famous character of a more gentle era relied on his superb powers of analysis, Kennedy is able to combine his own intellectual powers with the technological marvels of a new age. Arthur B. Reeve’s classic ‘Craig Kennedy’ stories began appearing in 1910, ensuring him of a place as a dominant crime fighter for the emerging 20th century. Kennedy is perhaps the natural evolution of the ‘great detective’ and the reader cannot but imagine that Holmes would have embraced his newly created techniques with equal enthusiasm. Here the reader will discover the application of lie detectors, gyroscopes, seismographs and an arsenal of other equipment, both real and imagined, to the solving of crimes and the bringing of criminals to justice.
This special Leonaur collection of the ‘scientific’ detective of Columbia University comprises seven substantial volumes, each in a colour coordinated cover. Leonaur hard backs are cloth bound, have fabric head and tail bands and feature gold foil lettering on their spines, so this may be the ideal way to collect and own the marvellous Craig Kennedy detective story series.
In the sixth volume, the reader will find two more complete books of intriguing detective stories to enjoy—The Panama Plot and The Film Mystery, originally published in 1918 and 1921 respectively. Within its pages enthusiasts can puzzle over many a dastardly crime and, of course, an equal number of brilliantly deduced solutions.
Appalled, I wondered who it was who had, to cover up one crime, committed another? Who had struck down an innocent man to save a guilty neck?<br>
Kennedy hurried to the side of the physician and I followed.<br>
“What symptoms did you observe?” asked Kennedy, quickly, seeking confirmation of his own first impressions.<br>
“His mouth seemed dry and I should say he suffered from a quick prostration. There seemed to be a complete loss of power to swallow or speak. The pupils were dilated as though from paralysis of the eyes. Both pharynx and larynx were affected. There was respiration paralysis. It seemed also as though the cranial nerves were partially paralyzed. It was typically a condition due to some toxic substance which paralyzed and depressed certain areas of the body.”<br>
Kennedy nodded. “That fits in with a theory I have.”<br>
I thought quickly, then inquired; “Could it be the snake venom again?”<br>
“No,” Kennedy replied, shaking his head; “there’s a difference in the symptoms and there is no mark on any exposed part of the body, as near as I could see in a superficial examination.”<br>
He turned to the physician. “Could you give me blood smears and some of the stomach contents, at once? Twice, now, some one has been stricken down before the very eyes of the actors. This thing has gone too far to trifle with or delay a moment.”<br>
The doctor hurried off toward the dressing room, anxious to help Kennedy, and as excited, I thought, as any of us. Next Kennedy faced me.<br>
“Did you watch the people at all, Walter?”<br>
“I—I was too upset by the suddenness of it,” I stammered.<br>
All seemed to have suspicion of some one else, and there was a general constraint, as though even the innocent feared to do or say something that might look or sound incriminating.<br>
I turned. All were now watching every move we made, though just yet none ventured to follow us. It was as though they felt that to do so was like crossing a dead line. I wondered which one of them might be looking at us with inward trepidation—or perhaps satisfaction, if there had been any chance to remove anything incriminating.<br>
Kennedy strode over toward the ill-fated set, Mackay and I at his heels. As we moved across the floor I noticed that everyone clustered as close as he dared, afraid, seemingly, of any action which might hinder the investigation, yet unwilling to miss any detail of Kennedy’s method. In contrast with the clamour and racket of less than a half hour previously there was now a deathlike stillness beneath the arched ground-glass roof. The heat was more oppressive than ever before. In the faces and expressions of the awed witnesses of death’s swift hand there was horror, and a growing fear.<br> No one spoke, except in whispers. When anybody moved it was on tiptoe, cautiously. Millard’s creation, “The Black Terror,” could have inspired no dread greater than this.<br>
Of the people we wished to study, Phelps caught our eyes the first. Dejected, crushed, utterly discouraged, he was slouched down in a chair just at the edge of the supposed banquet hall. I had no doubt of the nature of his thoughts. There was probably only the most perfunctory sympathy for the stricken director. Without question his mind ran to dollars. The dollar-angle to this tragedy was that the death of Werner was simply another step in the wrecking of Manton Pictures. Kennedy, I saw, hardly gave him a passing glance.<br>
Manton we observed near the door. With the possible exception of Millard he seemed about the least concerned. The two, scenario writer and producer, had counterfeited the melodrama of life so often in their productions that even the second sinister chapter in this film mystery failed to penetrate their sang-froid. Inwardly they may have felt as deeply as any of the rest, but both maintained their outward composure. <br>
On Manton’s shoulders was the responsibility for the picture. I could see that he was nervous, irritable; yet, as various employees approached for their instructions in this emergency he never lost his grasp of affairs. In the vibrant quiet of this studio chamber, still under the shadow of tragedy, we witnessed as cold-blooded a bit of business generalship as has ever come to my knowledge. We overheard, because Manton’s voice carried across to us in the stillness.