Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Murder Gone Meta 2 The Week-End Mystery (1926) by Robert A. Simon


Note: The Week-End Mystery has recently been reprinted by Coachwhip, with an introduction by yours truly, from which the piece below is drawn. For a preliminary post on this book, see here.

PART ONE
By 1926, when the 29-year-old American author and critic Robert A. Simon published his single detective novel, a charmingly whimsical murder story entitled The Week-End Mystery, the conventions of British and American detective fiction, then in its so-called Golden Age (conventionally dated as around 1920 to 1940), already were well-established, if not highly formalized.

Long before Anglo-American hard-boiled crime writer Raymond Chandler in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder” (originally published in 1944 and revised for book publication in 1950) derided what he termed the “Cheesecake Manor” school of class-bound, hoity-toity mystery writing, the weekend country house party attended either by landed gentry (in the UK) or the merely wealthy (in the US) had become the classic, indeed clichéd, setting for fictional murder; and it is precisely this setting which Robert A. Simon employed and wryly lampooned in his clever detective novel.

Seemingly not quite getting the author’s joke, the reviewer of the The Week-End Mystery in the New York Times lamented the novel’s “hackneyed situations and conventional characters,” while simultaneously allowing that these demerits did not much matter when “the story is so well told.”  “Mr. Simon has an ingratiating ability to take the reader into his confidence, to put him completely at his ease,” pronounced the reviewer of the author’s smooth narrative style, before concluding that “‘The Week-End Mystery’ must be classed among the superior detective stories.”  The novel was also published the same year in the UK by Collins, who the same year put out a certain little number by Agatha Christie of which you may have heard: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Robert A. Simon
(1897-1981)
author of The Week-End Mystery (1926)
The author of The Week-End Mystery, Robert Alfred Simon, was a member of the irrepressible American Jazz Age generation that during the Roaring Twenties took to detective fiction like it did to sitting on flagpoles--with, to be sure, less transitory results.  Robert was born in Manhattan, New York on February 18, 1897 (less than five months after Jazz Age bard F. Scott Fitzgerald), to Alfred Leopold Simon, a wealthy feather and silk manufacturer and milliner, and his wife Hedwig Meier, both of whom were of German Jewish heritage.

In his early years he resided in Midtown at a four-story brownstone  townhouse at 116 East 55th Street with his parents and younger sister, Helen, as well as an uncle and aunt, Leo and Anna (Meier) Simon, and their eldest son, Richard Leo Simon, a live-in maid and a German nanny. (German was Robert’s first language.)[1]

Two years younger than Robert, Richard would grow up to co-found the publishing firm of Simon and Schuster and father four children, including the famed singer-songwriter Carly Simon.  Other cousins of Robert’s included Richard’s three brothers: George Thomas Simon, a jazz writer and early drummer in Glenn Miller’s orchestra; Henry William Simon, an opera critic and professor of English at Teacher’s College, Columbia University; and Alfred Edward Simon, a rehearsal pianist for George Gershwin and radio programmer of light opera and show music.  In his own life and work Robert Alfred Simon evinced similar literary and musical interests to those of his multi-talented cousins. 

Max Schuster and Richard Simon with their first book
(a book of crossword puzzles)
Both Robert and Richard Simon attended Columbia University, where Robert received the degree of Bachelor of Literature in Journalism in 1921, after an interlude of a year’s service during America’s participation in the Great War as a Sergeant in Columbia University’s School of Military Cinematography. 

During his college years Robert was a student in the renowned creative writing class of Dorothy Scarborough, who later became the author of the searing regional novel The Wind (1925) and the future teacher of acclaimed southern novelist Carson McCullers.

After graduation Robert for a couple of years published articles on jazz and classical music in New York newspapers.  Then in 1923 the prestigious firm of Boni and Liveright (among their authors in the Twenties were novelists Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, poets T. S. Eliot, E. E. Cummings and Hart Crane and playwright Eugene O’Neill) published Robert’s first novel, Our Little Girl, an amusing satirical tale about “a young girl who was brought up to imagine herself a great singer and who came to believe it.”  At a party a year earlier Robert had wryly bet Boni and Liveright’s owner, Horace Liveright, a single dollar that he could write a novel which Liveright’s firm would accept.  Having won the bet, Robert dedicated Our Little Girl to his cousin Richard, who was then Boni and Liveright’s sales manager. 

Richard Simon's "little girl" Carly
Over the next few years Robert continued to produce interesting literary work.  In 1925 the newly launched New Yorker hired the young author as its first music critic (a position he would hold for the next 23 years) and Simon and Schuster, which Richard had co-founded the previous year, published his translation of Fraulein Else, Arthur Schnitzler’s highly regarded tragic novella.

The next year Robert produced his second and final novel, The Week-End Mystery. This book was published not by Simon and Schuster, but rather by G. Howard Watt, publishers of Clinton Stagg, whose tales of the amazing sleuthing exploits of visually impaired detective Thornley Colton, the so-called “blind problemist,” were gently lampooned by Agatha Christie in her 1929 Tommy and Tuppence Beresford short story collection Partners in Crime.  (The Thornley Colton cases have been reprinted by Coachwhip.) 

Although The Week-End Mystery was the only detective novel Robert ever published, in 1927 he versatilely produced Bronx Ballads, a humorous collection of Jewish songs with illustrations by American humorist, cartoonist and radio personality Harry Hershfield, and served as general editor of Simon and Schuster’s The Pamphlet Poets series,  designed “to promote poetry to the masses through paperback offerings sold for twenty-five cents.”[2]  Volumes in this laudable Simon and Schuster series included Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Witter Bytnner, Four National Negro Poets (including Langston Hughes) and The New York Wits, the latter of which Robert personally edited. 

Despite evident promise as a writer of both mainstream and mystery novels, Robert soon focused his creative writing energies exclusively in the field of music.  In 1927 he produced a widely praised translation of Charles Gounod’s Faust for Vladimir Rosing’s American Opera Company; librettos for modern operas by Robert Russell Bennett, Albert Stoessel and Vittorio Giannini followed in the Thirties.

In 1928 he wed like-minded concert pianist and music teacher Madeleine Marshall, who the year before had co-authored a book of gaming scenarios, published by Simon and Schuster, for Guggenheim, a Twenties games craze similar to today’s Scattergories.  Madeleine was one of two talented daughters of Benjamin Marshall, a prosperous Syracuse, New York hide, fur and leather manufacturer and a niece of Jewish community leader Louis Marshall, president of the American Jewish Committee and one of the most prominent constitutional attorneys in the United States (as a legal eminence he was considered an equal of the “other Louis,” Louis Brandeis). Together Madeleine and Robert would have two children.[3] 

Robert A. Simon died in 1981 at the age of 84, having lived a most interesting and rewarding life, though regrettably his sole detective novel—a comparative trifle, if rather a charming one--had been long forgotten at his death by the vintage mystery reading public.  Happily modern-day murder fanciers at leisure can now take the opportunity to relax for a few happy hours with The Week-End Mystery.

PART TWO
Another loathed American tycoon bites the dust
at weekend house party at his stately country mansion
Robert A. Simon’s The Week-End Mystery lies firmly within the tradition of the “Murder?  What fun!” school of detective fiction associated with A. A. Milne’s The Red House Mystery (1922) and several Twenties works by Agatha Christie, including The Secret Adversary (1922) and The Secret of Chimneys (1925), all tales written with a light hand and the tongue in cheek.  (Notorious sourpuss Raymond Chandler did not appreciate A. A. Milne’s joke and spent a good chunk of his “Simple Art of Murder” essay dismantling The Red House Mystery for its lack of realism, in one of the great examples of utterly-beside-the-point literary criticism.) 

Yet Simon’s novel is even more “meta” than Milne’s and Christie’s books, in that it openly revels in mystery genre self-reference from nearly its first page.
 


The story opens in the “little office on 94th Street near Broadway” of Dr. Hugh Farrigan, orthopedic specialist.  28-year-old Jimmy Wrome, assistant to the head of the refined sugar department in the Universal Sugar Refining Company, has come to Dr. Farrigan’s office seeking a cure for his aches and pains.  The doctor quickly diagnoses Jimmy’s malady as a broken heart and prescribes—but naturally—a steady diet of detective fiction, which Jimmy is to borrow from Curtin’s, the drugstore around the corner.[4]  Farrigan’s playful prescription reads:

Detective Stories.
Read one daily until relieved.  Dose may be increased if desired.
Hugh Farrigan, M. D.

Dr. Farrigan starts Jimmy off with a mystery novel he happens to have on hand at the office: The Shower Bath Enigma, one of the many popular tales about series sleuth Bernard Gatlin, “the Man of a Million Masks.”  Responding well to his course of treatment, Jimmy next reads The Porterhouse Murder, another Bernard Gatlin exploit, and after that there is no return.  From the Bernard Gatlin series Jimmy soon has devoured What Happened in Rochester, The Pumblewaite Legacy (“not so good, that one”), Eighteen Minutes Past Five, The Face in the Dark, The Rosenbaum Case, The Cryptic Bride, The O’Reilly Affair and the latest Gatlin opus, The Statue of Liberty Tangle, concerning the vexed question of just who “knifed the senator at midnight in the Statue of Liberty torch.”

Jimmy also reads tales about Great Detectives Hamilton Boone, Lord Hembury and Wilhelmine O’Connor, but the Man of the Million Masks remains his mainstay.  Soon he seemingly has gotten over his late love affair, but Dr. Farrigan starts to wonder whether the young man, who is now making Holmesian deductions about everyone he encounters, may be coming down with a severe attack of “detectivitis.”

Jimmy feeds his raging fever for detection when Dr. Farrigan invites him to a weekend house party being held by his most prominent patient, wealthy bachelor banker Leed Payne, “the Mystery Man of Wall Street,” at his country estate, Olean, in Bellechester.  (Westchester?)  Also among the weekend guests at Olean are

New York assemblyman Francis Gulvin and his theater enthusiast wife

jive-spouting jazz saxophonist Eddie Endle, who plays nightly at the nearby Shuffle Inn

beautiful Claire Trevor, who just happens to be the woman who violently wrung Jimmy’s withers

and Claire’s mystifying new love interest, bland bond dealer Blake Hesbe. 

All these people, along with Olean’s mysterious butler, Stelke (naturally there is a butler), become suspects when Leed Payne is discovered dead in his locked bedroom, having been mortally wounded from a single gunshot, seemingly self-inflicted.


Jimmy has other ideas about Payne’s sudden death, however, and he promptly communicates them at length to a local reporter.  Soon the case is being reluctantly investigated by Edgar Brinze, Captain of the Bellechester Police Reserve Force. Yet Jimmy has no confidence in the sleuthing capacities of Brinze, the son of a local cement manufacturer who had shown such “an alarming inaptitude for the niceties of the cement business” that he was foisted by his wealthy and politically influential father onto the police department, where he has proven every bit as inapt. 

Jimmy concludes that he will have to conduct his own investigation of the mystery, especially after Claire, whom it seems he has not quite gotten over after all, becomes Brinze’s lead suspect!  Can lessons from The Shower Bath Enigma, The Porterhouse Murder and The Rosenbaum Case help Jimmy mimic the crime-busting methods of the Man of a Million Masks and beat Bellechester’s bullying and boorish Captain Brinze to the solution of the Leed Payne murder case?

Thus begins the competition  for clues in one of the most meta mystery novels from the Golden Age of detective fiction.  The reader will not fully appreciate just how much so until she has reached the last line of the last page. 




[1] The Simon’s townhouse was later purchased by Robert B. Roosevelt, Jr., a cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt.  It was torn down and replaced with an elegant neo-Georgian mansion at the behest of its new owner, millionaire William Ziegler, Jr., in 1927.  Today the house is the site of the SUNY Global Center. 
[2] Quoting Randy Mackin, George Scarborough, Appalachian Poet: A Biographical and Literary Study with Unpublished Writings (McFarland, 2011), 6.  Dubbed the “Jewish Will Rogers” on account of his wryly humorous wit, Hershfield is best known today for his Abie the Agent, which featured the first Jewish protagonist in an American comic strip.  He also created the comic strips Desperate Desmond and Dauntless Durham of the U. S. A., in which he amusingly parodied cliffhanging crime melodrama.  Simon and Schuster did not launch its celebrated “Inner Sanctum” mystery imprint, edited by Lee Wright, until 1936.  It would include such lauded mystery writers as Patrick Quentin, Anthony Boucher, Cornell Woolrich and Craig Rice. 
[3] On Madeleine Marshall Simon (1899-1993), see Sheri Cook-Cunningham, “The Many Facets of Madeleine Marshall,” International Journal of Research in Choral Singing 4 (2): 52-76.  Madeleine, who performed as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Arturo Toscanini, would later teach English diction at the Juilliard School for over a half-century (1935-86) and author the standard school text The Singer’s Manual of English Diction.  She was coach and accompanist for many artists, including Lily Pons, Helen Traubel, Leontyne Pryce, Lawrence Tibbett and Lauritz Melchior.
[4] Jimmy Wrome is of the same age as the author when he was writing The Week-End Mystery.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

No Relation to Ryan Gosling: Christopher Bush Through the Ages

Images of some Golden Age detective writers are as elusive as those of their (often sadly forgotten) sleuths.  However, there actually are quite a few images out there of Christoper Bush, whose Ludovic Travers detective saga is currently being reprinted by Dean Street Press.  (Books #31-40 will be released in May.)

Below I've arranged some of these images chronologically.  Christopher Bush was born on Christmas day in 1885 and died in 1973, publishing his first Ludo Travers detective novel in 1926, when he was forty, and his last in 1968, when he was 82 years old.  Only a few of his prewar colleagues from England's Detection Club--Agatha Christie, Gladys Mitchell, John Dickson Carr, Michael Innes and Anthony Gilbert come to  mind--outlasted him as active mystery authors, Christie, Carr and Gilbert by only as few years.

Maybe I'm alone in detecting a resemblance to Ryan Gosling in the earlier Christopher Bush pics, particularly the that second one.  (I don't see it in the later ones at all.)  What think you, Gosling stanners?  I think it's the eyes more than anything else.  Bush was rather the ladies man in younger days, with some, erm, sticky entanglements, one of them producing a (presumably out-of-wedlock) son, noted composer Geoffrey Bush.  The first Bush photo dates from Egypt, where Bush served in the Great War, in 1919; in the others I am roughly guessing his age by decade.

Bush at age 33

Bush in his forties

Bush in his fifties

Bush in his sixties

Bush in his early seventies

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sleuths in Pictures--Visualizations of Golden Age Sleuths (Hercule Poirot, Ludovic Travers, George Wharton)

Hercule Poirot is now one of the most visualized fictional detectives in history through the medium of film, having been played by a succession of famous actors--Tony Randall, Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, David Suchet, Kenneth Branagh, John Malkovich--over the decades.  Indeed, he's starting to rival Sherlock Holmes in this respect.  And before all that, illustrators liked to portray him on books.  The "book cover Poirot" I personally remember best is the Albert Finneyish one who used to appear, after the actor's Oscar-nominated appearance in Murder on the Orient Express, on Pocket paperbacks in the 1970s, which I talked about here.

But the real heyday of Poirot paperback visualizations seems to have been in the 1940s and 1950s, during the early years of the "paperback revolution," on softcover editions by Pan (UK) and Dell (US).  I think you could say that these were of varying success.  All the Poirots were consistent in key ways though--bald or balding (when hatless), mustachioed, generally Gallic looking.  (On the Pans he usually has a bow tie, which I think suits him.)

Poirot uncovers a secret
in the shrubbery!

Belgian Noir?
"Mon Dieu! I did not order
ze room service!!"

Caught in the headlights!
This attempt at a hard-boiled Poirot
cover always makes me laugh.
"The daughter's name is...Cynthia."
Poirot as mentalist?

He might need this as "evidence."
Poirot as shoe fetishist?

Color him red
Poirot looks more like Sinestro from
the Green Lantern comic book here.

They took that whole
"egg-shaped head" thing to a
new level here--or is M. Poirot
the "moon" over the cypress?
And why is she testifying outdoors?

But Poirot wasn't the only Golden Age sleuth portrayed on book covers of course.  For example, when I was working on illustrations for Masters of the "Humdrum" Mystery, I was thrilled to find a book jacket front panel from the Twenties that had been preserved, which actually included a likeness of John Rhode's Dr. Priestley.  It suited him too!  I made sure to include it in the book.

After the Second World War Christopher Bush's veteran sleuth Ludovic Travers maintained enough of  a following of his long-running series in the UK that his publishers decided that his fans might like to know what he looked like.  Certainly Bush described Ludo enough over the years: tall, lean, horn rimmed, and even somewhat hatchet-faced. 

The first visual depiction of which I'm aware is on the cover of Bush's 1952 detective novel The Case of the Happy Medium (pictured right).  This image was used for a time on jackets and in the front matter of Bush's Travers mysteries, though not on front covers again, as far as I'm aware.

Travers appeared on several jackets in the Fifties in fine fettle indeed, followed by odder Sixties appearances in photo fashion.  Who was that glassed man?  To me he looks rather like a Viennese psychoanalyst who should be appearing in books of a rather different order, like The Case of the Mother Fixation, The Case of the Skinner Boxes, The Case of the Anal Retentive Client, The Case of the Penis Envy and The Case of the Cigar That Wasn't Just a Cigar.

He's definitely not quite Travers as I imagine him, but he's certainly more mod, in keeping, to be sure, with the woman with the massive beehive-ish hairdo.  But the Fifties Travers on the covers of Colonel and Cross (especially Colonel) suits Bush's Travers to a "T."




But let's not forget Travers' police pal, Superintendent George Wharton, who likes to set suspects at their ease as he beams down at them, avuncularly, his wire rim glasses sitting low on his nose--and then pounce!  Wharton may not appear on book jacket covers, as far as I'm aware, but in the books Christopher Bush helpfully pointed out the Yard superintendent's marked resemblance to two people, the real life American silent and talking film comedian Chester Conklin and the rotund musician in Punch artist George Belcher's painting "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls," which exhibited as the Royal Academy in 1936, and was the Academy's award winner that year.  See here.

British television series makers, take note!  If you ever get tired of Christie adaptations that move ever farther away from Christie's texts, there's also Christopher Bush and the 63 cases of Ludo Travers.

Note: Books #31-40 in the Ludovic Travers series (with George Wharton), spanning the postwar years 1946-52, are scheduled to be reprinted this May, followed in the fall by Books #41-50, spanning the years 1952-57.

Chester Conklin (1886-1971)
The famous film comedian's span of life was nearly
identical to that of Christopher Bush (1885-1973).

"I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls..."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Pajama Murder Case: S. S. Van Dine Encounters Appallin' True Crime (and in New Jersey, no less)

Below Tony Medawar explores a bizarre case of fiction colliding with fact which occurred in 1929, when S. S. Van Dine, creator of the bestselling Philo Vance detective series, as the newly-installed Police Commissioner of Bradley Beach, New Jersey had to confront a real life murder, the area's first--and a sordid and ugly one at that.  Instead of inspecting local bathing beauties Vance found he had to confront a bullet-riddled robbery victim.  It was not quite the thing the mystery writer was used to concoctin' in his gentlemanly fictional murder cases.--TPT

Police Commissioner Van Dine?
Willard Huntington Wright
The Hall-Mills Murder Case may have been S. S. Van Dine’s first ‘real’ murder investigation but three years later he faced an even more challenging case. During the 1920s Van Dine and his wife spent several summers at Bradley Beach, a small coastal resort borough in New Jersey that even today only has about 4,000 residents. This led, in 1929, to the appointment of Van Dine, now a bestselling detective novelist, as Police Commissioner at the police annual dinner that year. Reporting on the appointment, the Wilmington Journal said that one of the Commissioner’s chief duties would be "to inspect the bathing beauties and pass on the length and height of their suits. In accepting the appointment, Mr Van Dine assured the Mayor he would be neither short sighted nor narrow minded in the performance of this duty."

Journalists enjoyed themselves in speculation about what might happen next, including an anonymous reporter for the Reading Times who commented

Suppose it really happened that the body of a wealthy clubman was found in the library of his summer home with a jeweled dagger in his heart. Could a murder mystery writer actually solve the crime outside of fiction? We may soon find out. All that is needed for some wealthy clubman to get himself murdered at Bradley Beach, New Jersey.

the sort of "suspect" Van Dine hoped to interrogate
However, it was not long before the crime writer was confronted with true crime. In August 1929, George Danielson, a 67 year old messenger for the First National Bank in Bradley Beach, was shot dead in and robbed of the $7,000 payroll – equivalent to $100,000 – which he was taking to the pajama factory of Steiner & Sons in the nearby borough of Neptune City. The Springville Herald reported Van Dine’s announcement giving details of the killers and described their escape “presumably with a confederate or two, in a sedan later found abandoned. A Panama hat was discovered in the car as were two Pennsylvania plates.

Two factory workers described how they had seen
"two well-dressed young men, one with a small moustache, fire at the messenger. He dropped and as he did so the men snatched up the payroll and ran to the car. Van Dine...believed the bandits, after abandoning their car, might have mingled with the beach crowds, perhaps swimming. He requested a thorough search of all beach resorts and boardwalks in New Jersey” and, perhaps conscious that this was not what he had signed up for, offered to “withdraw from the post but Mayor Borden held him to his acceptance.

The Asbury Park Press reported Van Dine’s comment that the assailants were “inexperienced criminals or dope addicts” and noted that the new Police Commissioner was not exactly experienced. 


In an article for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lemuel Parton--who had once shared rooms with Van Dine--reported the writer as saying that

Steiner & Son Factory
Neptune City, New Jersey
I see no reason for hoping that the methods I have suggested would be useful in solving a crime like this … in a gang crime like this, the police, with their records of known gangsters, their habitat and methods, may and should be quite capable of catching the gunmen. This may be classified with such crimes as the Diamond brothers shooting in Brooklyn, which the police quickly solved. These organization crimes do not fit into the methods of hypothesis and analysis under which European criminologists work, and which have suggested the operation of Philo Vance …

Personally, I strongly believe in the scientific European methods. Applied to a case like the Hall-Mills or Elwell murder 
[the case that provided the inspiration for Van Dine’s first Philo Vance mystery, The Benson Murder Case], they are unquestionably the soundest and most effective which can be used. But, as I have said, I do not see that the theoretical criminologist can be of much use of running down these gang killings and premeditated hold-ups in which two or more men participate. It is in the individual or personal crime, such as the two I have mentioned, in which an expert criminologist can best function can best function. Organization crimes may best be left to routine police work, although I believe the American system should be aided by staffs of experts, capable of psychological analysis, such as those of Austria, Germany and France.

see Bradley Beach
Wright’s analysis was exactly correct and the crime was effectively solved within a week by Inspector John Coughlin, formerly of the New York Police Department – “assisted”, according to the Montana Standard, “only by a large, black impressive cigar, a large black, impressive derby and a large, black impressive pair of No. 10 shoes."

Coughlin quickly identified a woman who had been working at the Steiner factory up until three days before the robbery, Rose Goldberg, and arrested her on suspicion of being an accomplice to the crime; she appears to have escaped jail, presumably for having assisted with the arrests of the actual perpetrators. Following her arrest, Coughlin arrested Robert Tully, who allegedly had driven the sedan.  Tully confessed and at his trial in 1930 he was spared execution, upon a jury recommendation of mercy, after his mother cited his war record and alleged that he had been suffering from what today would be termed post-traumatic stress disorder.

A week after the murder, while Tully and Goldberg were under arrest, Edward Baxter, a shipping clerk at the Steiner plant, turned himself in and took the police to the end of a nearby trolley line where he had buried his share of the loot.  Baxter was jailed for three years.

The next arrested was Tully’s brother, whose car Tully had been driving; he was released without charge. Then, after a shoot-out in West 196th Street, New York, Coughlin and another officer arrested Frank McBrien, leader of the infamous "Jersey Kid's Gang."  McBrien was found guilty of the murder of George Danielson and two other robberies, one of which had also ended in murder.  He was electrocuted in July 1930.

A fourth member of the gang was named as Francis ‘Lefty’ Long.  He was jailed in 1930 after being captured during a failed attempt to rob a bank. The fifth and final member of the gang, James Sargent alias ‘California Eddie’ Stewart, was be arrested until the following year, by which time he had committed another robbery and another murder.
In 1937, ‘Lefty’ Long was released from prison and finally charged with the murder of George Danielson. He was sentenced to 16 to 32 years penal servitude.  A few months later, having threatened during the trial to kill himself if sent back to jail, Long hanged himself with a blanket in his solitary confinement cell. Later in 1938, five years after a failed escape attempt, Tully also attempted suicide, failing, however, in that attempt too.


Reporting on what they called the “Pajama Murder Case”, echoing the titles of Van Dine’s mysteries by referring back to the factory whose payroll had been robbed, the Montana Standard ridiculed “Steamship Van Dine … Van Dyke whiskers and all”, praising Coughlin and suggesting that in Van Dine’s next detective story, he shouldn’t “be so hard on Sergeant Heath, his fictional character who is a big flat foot from the homicide bureau.

Other newspapers were equally mischievous, with the Lincoln Journal Star trumpeting that Coughlin had succeeded where “the redoubtable Philo Vance of fiction fame” had failed. All a little harsh given the accuracy of Van Dine’s analysis of the crime and the fact that almost the first thing established about it was that the murder was not in fact in the writer’s jurisdiction as it had taken place in the nearby township of Neptune City rather than Bradley Beach.

None of this deterred the Minneapolis Star Tribune from commenting that Wright’s “embarrassment, as he faced the reproachful glances of his own omniscient Mr Vance, must have been singularly acute.

Indeed.

Note: For more detail on the Neptune City Murder, see Ari Sims blog

Guest Post by Tony Medawar: The Orchard Murder Case, Part II Enter Philo Vance, Theorizin'

Note: On the Hall-Mills murder case, one of the most notorious in Twenties America, see Part I of Tony Medwar's piece here.

the master opines
S. S. Van Dine, creator of Philo Vance
S.S. Van Dine’s two articles on the Hall-Mills murder case, which were published on November 6 and 7, 1926 in the New York Times-Herald, were credited to ‘Philo Vance,’ “the ‘psychological detective’ hero of SS Van Dine’s mystery tales”--although his first investigation, The Benson Murder Case, had only just been published in October 1926.

The first article, ‘Psycho-Analyzes Crime As Terrible Partnership Murder', dealt “particularly with the importance of individual psychology in crime detection and a generalization on its application” to the specific case, while the second, ‘Confession Would Upset Crime Construction is Deduction of ‘Sleuth,’’ examined the individual figures in the case.

Both articles, which were syndicated and published across America, were prefaced with the blithe statement that “It is to be understood that any theory presented is purely conjectural.
In the first article, name-checking Corot, Ibsen and Shakespeare, ‘Vance’ begins by highlighting what he called “the nature of the night” and the “needless cruelty” in the fact that Eleanor Mills had been shot three times and had her throat and tongue slit while Hall had only been shot once. He emphasized that

every murder differs from every other murder – each one has its own set of conditions and circumstances as well as peculiarities, which indicate the character and temperament of the person who committed it.


In this way, he went on, “clues count for very little against the psychology of a crime [for] the psychology of the crime and the murderer remains the same and cannot be changed or obliterated.” This was just as well given the murders were already four years old while all of the clues, material evidence and witness accounts were “jumbled together in what appears almost chaos.


‘Vance’ then focused on the “theatrical tableau” of the two bodies

not left as they fell but carefully, almost lovingly, rearranged side by side and with locked arms. Their love letters are scattered over them with a gesture of poetic melodrama. The Minister’s card is placed near the body, perhaps to identify him.


Vance asked readers to consider whether it was

a man’s crime, or a woman’s crime. Would a woman have used a gun in this direct and efficient way and murdered both of them? On the other hand, would a man have slashed the woman’s throat and arranged the bodies and strewn them with love letters?


This led him to conclude that, “from the psychology of the crime and its setting, you may reconstruct a terrible partnership murder with two or more persons participating.

In his second article, ‘Vance’ argued that “only a confession will clear the Hall-Mills murder mystery of any considerable percentage of persons” but he went on to doubt that there would ever be any such confession and emphasized that his conclusions should not be interpreted as implying that any of those on trial were guilty or innocent:

I find it difficult – almost impossible – psychologically to fit all of these persons to the hysteria of the scene that must have been enacted under the crab apple tree that fatal night … There has been so much ‘covering up’ by dozens of people, so much that has been hidden, so much that is still hidden, that such confusion is only natural.

There were, he suggested, three possible solutions:

One type of person could have committed [the crime] but several, perhaps, added finishing touches;

Or it could have been committed by that type of person and others, surprised and startled by what had happened, could actually have gone to the scene without participating.

Or, thirdly, it could have been committed by more than one person, each using a different method of death and different degrees of violence, based on their different psychologies.

After delineating a psychological portrait of the three defendants, ‘Vance’ invited the reader to consider which possessed “a nature consistent with all the features of the crime”:

1 Seeking or finding Dr Hall and Mrs Mills at their rendezvous;
2 Drawing a gun and shoot[ing] first Dr Hall;
3 Then Shooting Mrs Mills three times;
4 Slashing Mrs Mills’ throat, presumably with a razor;
5 Laying out the two bodies with linked arms as if for burial;
6 Scattering the love letters of the murdered pair over them;
7 Placing the dead minister’s card near his body.

These were features from which, in the view of ‘Philo Vance’, certain implications could be drawn ... leading him to conclude that

several apparently conflicting and even opposite, emotions actuated whatever person or persons were present at the scene – one emotion being murderous and vindictive, another emotion being hysterical and disorganized … and still another emotion being sentimental and dramatic … does [that] fit any one of the defendants? Or does it coincide with any other person who might have committed the murder? Or does it imply a murder by more than one person?

For perhaps obvious reasons, Van Dine did not complete the article by providing his own answer to these questions.  He cautioned those who did:
You might be wrong for the probing of the human heart is a tremendous and tricky task. As we yet know little of the hidden impulses of the heart and intellect working in conjunction.

However, on 3 December 1926, in a verdict that one suspects would not have come as a surprise to SS Van Dine, the jury returned a Not Guilty verdict and the three defendants were acquitted. Carpender died in 1934. Henry Stevens in 1939 and his brother William in 1942. Frances Hall also died in 1942 and she was buried, like her husband, in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.No one has ever been convicted for the murders.


Next up, S. S. Van Dine personally encounters true crime in The Pajama Murder Case, Tony's third guest post.  I'll be posting it later today, it's simply fascinatin'!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Murder Gone Meta, Part 1: The Week-End Mystery (1926), by Robert A. Simon

Through my Buffington ancestors I am related to mystery writer Ada Lingo and (through marriage) Alfred Meyers and Raymond Chandler.  (Yup, that guy.)  In Fall River, Massachusetts, where I spent a few hours last May, a Buffington (by marriage as I recollect) lived a few doors down from the Borden family at the time Lizzie (or someone) took an ax--you know the rest--was in the house soon after the bodies were discovered and testified at the trial.  And there was a Farmer Buffington whose cow allegedly was hexed by one of the supposed witches in Salem at the time of the infamous trials.  Where there be crime and witchery, it seems, there be Buffingtons.

Howard Maxfield Buffington
1895-1989
So I wasn't surprised when it turned out that a Howard Maxfield Buffinton (not a typo, his family had dropped the "g") of Springfield, Massachusetts owned a book by Robert A. Simon, who published a single detective novel, The Week-End Mystery, in 1926 (recently reprinted by Coachwhip).  The book Buffinton owned was not Simon's detective novel, but rather his first, mainstream novel, Our Little Girl, a wry piece about a pampered young woman who has been convinced by her pathologically doting parents that she's a great singer, when she's not.  I don't believe Buffinton and Simon were friends--Buffinton graduated from Dartmouth College and became a Springfield insurance executive and Simon graduated from Columbia University and became a New York music critic--but the former man clearly was a fan of the latter one. 

For one thing, he got Simon to inscribe ("with cordial greetings") the aforementioned book.  For another, slipped into the volume are two notes, one handwritten from someone else and one typed by Buffinton himself, both of which highly praise the novel. 

Buffinton's note reads:

Inscription from author Robert A. Simon
in Howard M. Buffinton's copy of
Simon's novel Our Little Girl
Two review notes were slipped into the book
as well, one of which is quoted at right.

Our Little Girl appeals to me as a rich mine of satire and humor.  Mme. Dorothy Reitz is a joyful scream, and is undoubtedly typical of countless other "prima donnas."  Most delightful, too, are the newspaper reviews of Dorothy's debut concert (pages 182-7); if anyone ever breaths to me the phrase "DeWitt Goldstein [or whoever the DeWitt of the moment may be] was a sympathetic accompanist," I feel sure I shall rock with laughter on the spot.  And as good as an acted drama is Mr. Simon's account of Dorothy's lesson with Soedlich.

The novel seems to me to be exceptionally well-balanced particularly so for a book dealing almost exclusively with musical circle and folk.  At no time did my interest lag; events march from beginning to end.

Our Little Girl deserves to be passed on--she is too good to keep to oneself.


Did Buffinton leave review slips in all the books he read?  If so I would have loved to have seen his library!  If Buffinton read mysteries he probably bought Simon's second novel, The Week-End Mystery.  In it Simon demonstrates the same fine light touch and mastery of wry humor, only this time in service of a murder puzzle.  The only thing that gets murdered in Our Little Girl is music, though that's a crime too!

Much more soon on Robert A. Simon and his mystery.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"The Nile" Ain't Just a Novel By Christie, Part 2: Death Sails the Nile and the Life Journey of Frances Burks

Because everything she wrote gets remembered—and her writing typically is rather memorable to mystery fans—Agatha Christie often is assumed invariably to have been a crime fiction originator.  Often she was, but sometimes she was not.  We find an instance of the latter case—where she was not--with her classic detective novel Death on the Nile (1937), wherein her great Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, confronts a murderous ménage of devious European and American sophisticates on a tour boat in Egypt.  The novel was not in fact, as is generally believed, the first Nile River cruise mystery.  In novel form, anyway, that distinction would appear to belong to Death Sails the Nile, a detective novel published four years earlier by American author F. Burks McKinley.[1] 

Death Sails the Nile
was well-received by critics, with the Saturday Review, for example, pronouncing the novel “good” and explicating: “Authentic Egyptian background succeeds in producing unique atmosphere of terror.  Plenty of clues and strange occurrences.”  Yet until its reissuance this year by Coachwhip, the novel had been out-of-print for 85 years, with the author evidently having abandoned for good and all her stated intention of launching a mystery-writing career.

Frances Burks was publicized as
a "new star in mystery fiction"
but her writing light burned but briefly
Her—yes, the person hidden behind the androgynous name of F. Burks McKinley was American Mary Frances Burks McKinley, who at the time of the publication of her sole mystery novel was but 26 years old, a recent college graduate and near newlywed.  She was a year younger than another elite college graduate and traveler of Europe, John Dickson Carr, who had published his first mystery novel a few years earlier. 

The only daughter of James Willis Burks and Linnie Mai Atkins, the author was born Mary Frances Burks on November 24, 1907 at the farm of her maternal grandfather Asa Allen Atkins (formerly part of her great grandfather James Atkins’ 800-acre tobacco plantation), near the small town of Newbern in Dyer County, a “severely conservative” (to quote a recent presidential candidate) corner of northwestern Tennessee. 

Nine miles away at the county seat, Dyersburg, a Confederate memorial had been erected on the grounds of the courthouse in 1905, two years before Frances’ birth, on the 43rd anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh.  A dozen years later the stone rebel soldier that stood impassively at the top of the memorial looked on, along with thousands of vocal flesh and bone citizens of Dyer County, as Lation Scott, a black man accused of raping a white woman, was brutally tortured with red hot pokers for several hours before finally being incinerated at an impromptu stake.  “It was the biggest thing since Ringling Brothers’ Circus came to town,” one eyewitness later recalled with gusto.[2] 

Perhaps some of the onlookers and/or participants at Lation Scott’s ghastly lynching just over a century ago were among those who had been “saved” at massive religious revivals conducted in the county in 1904 and 1907.  In any event, Mary Frances Burks in her own life left the strangely mingled savagery and sanctimony of the Jim Crow era South far behind her, eventually attaining heights known only, in both her day and in ours, to a fortunate few and living the sort of life at which the locals of Dyer County might have looked askance.

James Willis Burks II,
his wife Linne Mai Atkins
and their two children
James Willis Burks III
and Mary Frances Burks
around the time their
solider father was serving in the
Pancho Villa Expedition (1916)
Frances’s father, James Willis Burks II, came from another rural Tennessee County, Overton, located in north central Tennessee.  Educated at Livingston Academy in Livingston, county seat of Overton, and at Draughon’s Business College in Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, Burks became a druggist and served in the National Guard.  Over two decades he saw action in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the Pancho Villa Expedition and World War One, rising to the rank of Major and receiving the Congressional Medal.  During this time he also ran drugstores in Livingston and Nashville, Little Rock, Arkansas and Toledo, Ohio, where his and Linnie Mai’s only other child, James Willis Burks III, was born in 1911. 

Frances and her brother spent their adolescent years mostly in Livingston, where their father and grandfather, Robert Lee Burks (a Civil War veteran, eulogist of the “lost cause,” ardent prohibitionist and devoted member of the Christian Church), owned the Burks Drug Company on the courthouse square, and in Nashville, where the Burks family moved in 1920, when Frances was twelve years old. 

Mary Frances Burks at Vanderbilt
(lower right, by the faculty sponsor)
She was chosen as the outstanding
student in Arts and Sciences at
Vanderbilt ninety years ago in 1929
After graduating in 1925 from Nashville’s Hume-Fogg High School, where she played on the girls’ basketball team, Frances matriculated at Vanderbilt University, where she joined Tri Delta sorority and majored in Classics.  A 1927 photo of Vanderbilt’s Classical Club, organized to promote the study of Latin and Greek, shows a nineteen-year-old Frances looking forthrightly at the camera, attractive and boyish-looking in a dark dress with checkered belt and collar and a fawn coat and her arm about the shoulder of another young woman. 

On the same day she received her BA degree, June 12, 1929, she wed the socially prominent Silas Bent McKinley, a 35-year-old graduate of Harvard University and assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt and a nephew of noted journalist and author Silas Bent.  (Among McKinley’s distinguished ancestors were Kentucky senator and US Attorney General John J. Crittenden and Alabama senator and US Supreme Court Justice John McKinley.)  Frances had proven a promising student at Vanderbilt, having been awarded the Founder’s Medal as the top graduating student in the College of Arts and Sciences and served as an assistant to Professor Clyde Pharr, the noted head of the Classics Department, in Pharr’s landmark translation of the Codex Theodosianus (Theodosian Code).[3] 

However, after receiving an MA degree at Vanderbilt in October 1930--her thesis was on Cicero’s essay Cato Maior de Senectute (On Old Age)--Frances left Vanderbilt and moved with her husband, who had accepted a position at Washington University, to live in an opulent $75,000 mansion (about $1,135,000 today) in the wealthy enclave of Brentmoor Park, Clayton, a suburb of Saint Louis.

Mary Frances Burks upper right
While living in the lap of luxury in Brentmoor Park, where the newlywed couple enjoyed the services of a chauffeur and cook, Frances in November 1933 published what turned out to be her only mystery, Death Sails the Nile, for the writing of which she drew upon her experiences in Egypt during the three-and-a-half-month Mediterranean honeymoon idyll she had enjoyed with her husband. 

Frances dedicated the novel, which was handsomely produced by an interesting Boston publisher, The Stratford Company, to Silas (though she is referred to as “Miss McKinley” on the back cover) and had the endpapers illustrated with an Egyptian motif by a talented friend, Marie Agnes Benoist (1907-1968), whose acquaintance she had recently made.[4]

Agnes Benoist, an independently wealthy dilettante artist and sculptor, was one of the many grandchildren of one of 19th century Saint Louis’s wealthiest and most important citizens, banker and financier Louis Auguste Benoist.  Not only did Agnes design the endpapers for Frances’s book, she also executed the murals in two of the bathrooms at Frances’s house at Brentmoor Park.  Downstairs bright blue and red ships sailed upon a deep blue sea while upstairs planets majestically glittered. 

you can't go home again
Confederate memorial statue
at Dyersburg, TN
Just as Frances’ relationship with Agnes was taking sail, however, her marriage with Silas was foundering.  The couple's holiday cruise to the West Indies in December 1934, during which Frances had planned to work on another mystery, was beset with acrimony as Silas demanded a divorce from his wife. Informing Frances upon their return to St. Louis that he could no longer live happily in the same house with her, Silas "packed his bags and went home to mother" (as the saying goes) a few days after Christmas, declaring that he would never return to Brentmoor Park to reside with his lawfully wedded wife. 

In January 1935, Frances sued Silas for divorce, alleging “general indignities” and asking for alimony and a return of her maiden name. 
Frances’s suit, which made national headlines in an era when divorce could still be considered shocking news (“Woman Writer of Mystery Tales Sues for Divorce”), was quickly granted; and in March, while her now ex-husband Silas wed another woman, Frances traveled to the island of Bermuda for a lengthy stay with her friend Agnes.  That same year, she took up residence in her and Silas’ apartment overlooking Central Park (now the site of the Park Lane Hotel), informing inquiring newspapers that she planned to study journalism.  

In 1940 she was still residing off Central Park, along with Agnes, although she seems to have abandoned journalism as a profession.  In 1943 she again enrolled, at the age of 35, at Vanderbilt University, registering for four classes, but she withdrew after only a couple of months.  In the end Frances’ life--which ended on September 5, 1970 at a house far from Tennessee in the historic Spanish-American city of Antigua, Guatemala which Agnes, who had died two years earlier, used to visit--seems to have consisted of a series of false, if promising, starts, with much potential sadly left unrealized.

*******

James Willis Burks III
brother of Mary Frances Burks
and father of James Willis Burks IV
In 1937, two years after her divorce from Silas McKinley, Frances hosted, at her Central Park abode, a wedding reception for her 26-year-old brother James Willis Burks III, a Vanderbilt graduate and student at Washington University School of Medicine (he had earlier dropped out of Virginia Military Institute, rejecting his father’s martial way of life), and alluring chanteuse Alice Weaver, daughter of a locomotive engineer from Carbondale, Illinois and a former vocal teacher at the Fanchon and Marco School of the Theater in Hollywood, California.  The songstress likely had caught Burks’ eye at the Hotel Kingsway tavern in St. Louis, where, it was chattily confided in the St. Louis Star and Times, the “lovely and gracious doll” had performed an engagement with her “he-man pianist,” Herme Zinzer.

In 1945, after a stint in the army during the Second World War, the younger Burks received an MSc degree in dermatology and syphilology from the University of Minnesota Graduate School of Medicine.  Although his "lovely and gracious doll" of a wife sued him for divorce two years later, after a decade of marriage and the birth of a daughter, Mary Frances, who was named after his sister, his professional life flourished, as he became professor of clinical medicine in dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.  He later married a second time, to Alma Rita Limberg, a New Orleans native 16 years younger than he, and with her fathered a boy and a girl. 

In 1961, a year after the birth of his son and namesake James Willis Burks IV, Dr. Burks delivered a paper at the annual Academy of Dermatology and Syphilology Symposium in Therapy held at Chicago, Illinois.  He opened his speech by wryly recalling a “pessimistic, dyspeptic colleague-in-training” from the Forties who had been dismayed by all the advances being made in medicine, which the colleague believed would destroy the medical practice by making disease obsolete:

He pointed out that half of our practice had already disappeared.  Hopes for survival dimmed through the years every time I heard from him….the only things remaining for us to treat would be acne and ringworm.  Since griseofulvin [a medication used to treat ringworm] has appeared, I have not had the heart to speak to him.  I sincerely hope he is spared the knowledge of the monumental breakthrough in therapeutics I will reveal in the latter part of this presentation.

Dr. Burks died in 1978, not long before his handsome, tousle-haired son Jamie enrolled at Tulane University.  After his graduation from Tulane in 1982, Jamie for a time attended graduate school at UCLA.  He later worked as a model in Europe.  He was living in Los Angeles again when he was hospitalized for complications from AIDS, from which he died, at the age of 34, on November 7, 1994, seventeen days before what would have been his Aunt Frances’ 87th birthday. 

Jamie was interred in the Burks family tomb at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans, where his father and Frances had already been laid to rest.  Mourners were urged to make memorial contributions to the fight against AIDS, a scourge which Dr. Burks’ dyspeptic colleague in dermatology and syphilology should have found highly gratifying, as the treatment of it presented dilemmas indeed for the medical specialist.
  

New Orleans artist Jan Gilbert, a friend of Jamie's, dedicated her Light in the Head" exhibition in the Crescent City to him.  You can see pictures of the exhibition (and Jamie) here.  And here is Jamie's name on the AIDS Memorial Walk in West Hollywood.

A college photo of a nineteen-year-old Jamie Burks can be found on a page Instagram’s The Aids Memorial website, where Jamie is one among thousands of posted casualties of the dread disease.  At the site Jamie’s tragically foreshortened life of passion and promise is given moving remembrance by his friend Jonathan Taylor:

Jamie and I met in New York, 1981.  Kappa Sigma photo shows him in college—a snapshot I kept from his belongings (he would be very embarrassed by this image).  Jamie, pictured right, the funniest, silliest crazy boy and man.  The sweetest face.  The best laugh—gasping for air, nearly silent in disbelief, tears streaming down our faces with laughter.  How I remember him.  A great friend I miss terribly.  Jamie had a horrible, painful, ugly passing, in contrast to his brief, wonderful life, 1960-1994.

Certainly the Burks family, from Frances and her brother James to her nephew Jamie, seem to have lived lives that were relatively freed from the traditional constraints of the rural South, with all the pinnacles and pitfalls which such untethered lives can entail.  In Frances’ case she left mystery fans, amid an unfortunate litter of false starts and dead ends, a worthy detective novel to enjoy, now reissued 85 years after its original publication. 

Postscript: Like Frances Burks I graduated from Vanderbilt, almost 30 years ago; and of course I edited the Edgar-nominated anthology of essays on LGBTQ mystery writers and themes, Murder in the Closet.  I was fascinated by Frances Burks' personal history and that of her family.  Normally I don't write about younger relations of mystery writers, but I was very moved by the story of Frances Burks' nephew, Jamie, who was much beloved by those who knew him. 

World AIDS Day was a month ago, on December 1, and I regret not getting this piece posted then.  I'm making a New Year's Resolution to support AIDS charity this year, however, and I hope some of my blog readers will consider doing the same. (See here for a list of well-regarded AIDS charities.)

Despite what you find in so much Golden Age detective fiction, untimely death is not a game but rather a grim and wicked thing, the real thing I mean, laying waste to promising lives and destroying so much human potential.  Harm and hurt is a hydra-headed monster in this world, but we can but try to do what we can, when we can, to hinder it, in whatever form of disease or disaster it may take.  I'm going to make it a point to do more of my bit this year.--TPT


[1] However, Agatha Christie may get the last laugh yet again, for the same year, 1933, in which Death Sails the Nile appeared saw the publication by Christie of a Parker Pyne mystery short story entitled—you guessed it—“Death on the Nile.”  Of course the Western world at this time was especially fascinated with ancient Egypt as a result of the discovery, eleven years earlier, of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s marvelous lost tomb.  Christie herself had opportunistically published an Hercule Poirot mystery short story, “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb,” in September 1923, less than a year after the opening of tomb of “King Tut,” as he had been colloquially dubbed.
[2] In modern value James Atkins’ real and personal estate was worth over a million dollars in 1860, though the wealth he amassed was widely distributed at his death among no less than fourteen children.  On the Lation Scott lynching see Margaret Vandiver’s Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South (Rutgers University Press, 2006) and the key contemporary account, “The Burning at Dyersburg: An NAACP Investigation, The Crisis 16 (February 1918):178-183.
[3] See Linda Jones Hall, “Clyde Pharr, the Women of Vanderbilt, and the Wyoming Judge: The Story behind the Translation of the Theodosian Code in Mid-Century America,” Roman Legal Tradition 8 (2012), 24-25.  Hall reports that at the time Frances Burks attended Vanderbilt women “dominated graduate studies in the Department of Classics” (p. 13).
[4] Perhaps the best known book published by The Stratford Press is civil rights activist and author WEB DuBois’ The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America (1924).  It was published as part of the Knights of Columbus Racial Contribution Series, which also included George Cohen’s The Jews in the Making of America (1924), also published by The Stratford Company.  This was a daring project in the decade that saw the mass revival in America of the Ku Klux Klan and a successful effort to curtail the immigration of ethnicities and races deemed undesirable by many White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.  The Stratford Company also published Silas Bent McKinley’s first book, Democracy and Military Power (1934), which included a forward by famed progressive historian Charles Beard.