BIBLIOGRAPHY 1898

1897
Master List
1899
BLAKE TRIVIA

'TWIXT GALLOWS AND GOLD plainly takes place this year, as one of its protagonists has just returned from the Klondike Gold Rush which began in 1897. The problem is that this adventure occurs right in the middle of the period where Blake was assisted by We-wee ... yet, in it, he has a new boy assistant named Nipperty Chris. Maybe We-wee was away for a period? Furthermore, it is also stated that Nipperty, "like some of his predecessors, had been rescued from gutter-life for his shrewdness." What predecessors are these?

ISSUES
NO COVER AS YET UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 194 · 8/1/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
'TWIXT GALLOWS AND GOLD
by Anon. (Harold Blyth) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: Witty Will Wynn by Harry Blyth; The Scourge of the Seas by Henry St. John; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: Sexton Blake 'for purposes of his own' is living in a rented villa in a well-known London suburb. A train embankment passes by his house and, one day, a passenger train derails from it. Among the people the detective rescues is a man named Count Arno. Blake takes an immediate dislike to him. A couple of months later, Frank Swale is shown into Blake's office by the detective's assistant, Nipperty Chris. The previous year, Swale had joined the Klondike Gold Rush in the hope of raising enough money to marry his sweetheart, Lily May. He struck gold but fell ill and asked his friend, Jack Hackett, to deliver a considerable amount of money to the girl. Hackett vanished, and so too did Lily. Blake discovers that Hackett and Count Arno are one and the same. He and Frank trace him to a hotel room. As they approach, a shot is fired. Frank races after the gunman, both men disappearing via the balcony. Blake ties to follow but his way is blocked when the window slams shut. The murdered man turns out to be the real Count, who had been blackmailed by Hackett. While trying to find Frank, Blake is attacked outside the house where Lily May had once lived. His assailant escapes in a carriage with two men, one of whom is identified as Tony Quelch, an ex-boxer. The detective corners this man in his lair and forces him to take him to Hatchett's hide-out. Quelch turns on him but, with Nipperty's help, Blake survives and is able to confront the main villain. After a terrific fight, which sees them both plunge into the river, Blake is rescued from drowning by Frank Swale while Hatchett attempts a getaway in a steamship upon which Lily is held as prisoner. Blake saves the girl and, with his plans foiled, Hatchett flees only to be killed while crossing a railway line.
Trivia: Blake's boy assistant in this case, Nipperty Chris, is very much a Tinker prototype: 'The speaker was "Nipperty Chris", the great detective's latest juvenile assistant, who, like some of his predecessors, had been rescued from gutter-life for his shrewdness. He was a broad, bright, snub-nosed little fellow, with short, yellow hair, growing so coarse and close that he would often facetiously declare that if all else failed he could let himself out as a broom.'
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆ Harry Blyth keeps the plot simple, for a change, and delivers a story that works far better than his previous efforts.
NO COVER AS YET UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 204 · 19/3/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE TRUMAN MYSTERY; OR, A STRUGGLE FOR FORTUNE
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: Witty Will Wynn by Harry Blyth; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: Sexton Blake receives a visitor at his office in Norfolk House; a youth named Raymond Truman. Though born and raised in India, Raymond is heir to the Truman estates in Northamptonshire. Upon learning of his father's death, he had set sail from India to meet his grandfather, Sir Jasper Truman, but was attacked and waylaid. Now he's arrived in England with no proof of identity and needs Blake to help him. The detective, however, is suspicious of his visitor and, after instructing We-wee to follow the youth, he makes some enquiries and discovers that the Raymond Truman who set off from India is not of the same appearance as the one who arrived in England. Then a chance encounter in the street leads him to meet another youth who also identifies himself as Raymond; there are now two claimants to the estates. Raymond number two describes to Blake how, on his journey from England, he was thrown overboard by his scheming servant, Muley Hassan, who is now living with Sir Jasper in the guise of Raymond Truman — a third claimant to the title! Meanwhile, We-wee has learned that the first individual is really named Hamid Hassan; Muley's brother. The siblings had schemed together but quarrelled and went their separate ways, each hoping to fool Sir Jasper. Sexton Blake travels to Truman Towers disguised as a professor of botany and meets with Sir Jasper who is oblivious to the fact that his nephew is an impostor. Remaining as a guest, Blake begins to unnerve Muley Hassan, who makes several attempts on Sir Jasper's life. Later, a final murderous attack is foiled and the Hassans are exposed. The real Raymond takes up his position as true heir to the the Truman estates.
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
NO COVER AS YET UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 208 · 16/4/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE PHANTOM PHOTOGRAPHER; OR, THE LUCK OF SEXTON BLAKE
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: The Sign of the Scarlet Cross by Claud Heathcote; Witty Will Wynn by Harry Blyth; The Branded Hand by H. S. Warwick; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: One night, while crossing Hyde Park, Sexton Blake splits up a fight between two men. His suspicions aroused, he sends We-wee to investigate one of the participants. His assistant discovers that the man, Handel Glossop, is apparently a well-to-do photographer, though none of his work has ever been seen. Later, Blake spots Glossop in the company of his former attacker and a criminal known as Big Frank. He begins to suspect that this gang might be responsible for a recent flood of counterfeit money but, before he can get on their trail, Frank drops an 'infernal machine' into the detective's pocket and warns him that, should he move within the next fifteen minutes, the device will explode. Blake remains frozen while the three men make their getaway. Over the next few days, the detective shadows Glossop and, when the latter is involved in a road accident, manages to get proof that he is a forger. Blake gets a warrant from Scotland Yard and arrests the crook but makes the mistake of turning his back. Glossop pushes the detective into a large safe, locks the door and makes his escape. We-wee rescues his master and informs him that his quarry has taken a train to Hammerton. Blake follows and finds Glossop at a circus. The forger releases a lion and vanishes amidst the panicked crowd. Two days later, Blake traces him to a Scottish town and sets off in pursuit. Glossop races away on a bicycle but the detective chases after him in a fire engine, only to lose him when the crook dives over a high wall. Two more days pass before he re-emereges in another town where he has boarded a foreign ship with Big Frank. Blake arrives in a seething storm and helps a lifeboat crew as they struggle to assist the stricken vessel. Big Frank falls into the sea and drowns. Glossop is captured.
Trivia: This was reprinted (with Tinker replacing We-wee) in PENNY POPULAR issue 76 as THE FORGER (1914).
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Unrated
THE DAGGER OF DUNLOE UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 220 · 9/7/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE DAGGER OF DUNLOE
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: The Sign of the Scarlet Cross by Claud Heathcote; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: Sexton Blake receives a visit from Sir Derek Dunloe of Daggerlands, an estate which can only be held by the Dunloe family so long as they retain possession of an antique knife. One of the family ancestors had saved a general from assassination by this weapon and received the estate as a reward, with the proviso that they produce the knife once a year as evidence that they are still entitled to the land. Now the knife has been stolen. Sir Derek believes that his recently employed valet, a Spaniard named Rodrigo Gaspoli, is responsible, for he vanished at the same time as the knife. Blake's sole clue is a photograph of this man. The detective tracks Gaspoli to Palma, Majorca, and attends a bullfight hoping to spot his quarry. When an 'espada' — a female matador — named Senorita Leonora Dorez is distracted by a man in the crowd — a man who proves to be Gaspoli — Blake leaps into the ring and saves her from the bull. The next day she visits the detective and reveals that Rodrigo Gaspoli's full surname is Gaspoli de Llosetta — the same surname as that of the assassin who had tried to murder the general so many years ago. He is one of her rejected suitors and now she fears that he will harm her betrothed, Pedro Cantado. Gaspoli has demanded that she meet him at sundown — but Sexton Blake goes instead. The villain tricks Blake into following him into Palma's famous cave system ... and abandons him there. Fortunately, though, the detective is able to find his way out of the labyrinth. Gaspoli, who turns out to be the leader of a group of bandits, next kidnaps We-wee and holds him to ransom. With Spanish troops, Blake raids the bandits' hideaway and frees his assistant. Gaspoli escapes and later challenges Pedro Cantado to a duel. Responding to a plea from Senorita Dorez, Blake races to stop the fight and arrives just as the villain stabs his opponent in the side before then taking his own life. Blake recovers the dagger of Dunloe. Cantado's wound eventually heals and he and Dorez marry.
Trivia: Sexton Blake's 'business apartment' is in Norfolk House. We-wee is described as now being a youth rather than a boy. This case takes six months to complete.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
THE THIRD MAN UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 228 · 3/9/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE THIRD MAN
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: The Sign of the Scarlet Cross by Claud Heathcote; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: While taking an early morning stroll, Sexton Blake witnesses a car going out of control. He leaps to the assistance of the two young men aboard the vehicle. After they are safe, one of them, Harold Fenfield, asks the detective to help him with another matter, so they retire to Blake's apartments after bidding the other man, Slipton Bale, farewell. Fenfield reveals that he is soon to be married to Miss Ethel Challoner, who Bale had also been pursuing. Even though she chose Fenfield, the two men have remained friends. Fenfield, who is rather irresponsible, has bet more than £30,000 on 'Spinaway', a horse that'll be running in the Fenfield Stakes in two weeks time. This, however, is not what Fenfield wants to consult Blake about. He has inherited his family's famous diamond tiara — currently in a safe at his home — and has received a note from a crook named Sam Shise informing him that he'll lose it unless he pays £50. Sexton Blake goes to meet Shise and learns from him that there's a scheme afoot to steal the tiara. Three men are involved; Shise (who is happy to betray his companions for £50), a cracksman, and the leader, a 'man about town'. Blake and Shise are interrupted by the arrival of the cracksman, Egbert Trewolf, a criminal who Blake had dealt with during his first ever case (see HOW SEXTON BLAKE WON HIS SPURS, UNION JACK, 1st series, issue 125, 1896). Trewolf attempts to shoot the detective but Blake flees to the roof and slides down telephone wires to make his escape. He goes with We-wee to stay at Fenfield Abbey where the race meeting is to be held. Discovering clues that suggest an attempt on the safe will be made soon, Blake lies in wait and catches the three crooks in the act. They make a rapid getaway but, in the Abbey's grounds, capture We-wee and try to hang him. The Celestial escapes without being able to identify the third man — the leader. Some days later, We-wee overhears Shise and Trewolf plotting to nobble Spinaway. The youngster watches them place drugged straw in the horse's manger. When they depart, he removes it. The next day — the day of the race — the crooks attack and wound Fenfield's jockey. We-wee takes over and rides Spinaway to victory. Blake spots Slipton Bale returning to the Abbey in company with Shise and Trewolf. He and Fenfield follow and upon arriving at the house discover that the tiara is missing — except it isn't ... because some time previously Sexton Blake had secretly removed it from the case and hidden it in a hat box. The thieves have stolen an empty case! From the next room, Trewolf leaps to attack the detective and is promptly shot dead. Slipton Bale is exposed as the leader and is banished from society. Shise is taken into custody.
Trivia: Norfolk House, off the Strand, is once again given as Sexton Blake's address. The detective — always keeping up with new technologies — has recently learned how to drive a car. Egbert Trewolf reappears in a rare early example of continuity. Though he was sentenced to death at the end of HOW SEXTON BLAKE WON HIS SPURS, it is explained that his sentence was commuted and he was then mistakenly given further remission. THE THIRD MAN was reprinted in PENNY POPULAR issue 71 as THE FENFIELD CONSPIRACY (1914).
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
THE MYSTERY MAN UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 238 · 12/11/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE MYSTERY MAN
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: The Sign of the Scarlet Cross by Claud Heathcote; From the Quarterdeck (ed.)
Notes: Miss Maud Mercombe commissions Blake to discover the whereabouts of her intended, Algar Atheling, who mysteriously vanished three weeks ago. All that the detective has to go on is the fact that Atheling was uncommonly interested in the work of a mesmerist and "reader of the soul" named Saga Shaboral. Upon spotting the last man Atheling was seen with, Blake follows him to the "Hall of Isis" where Shaboral performs. His quarry escapes but the detective later encounters him at Miss Mercombe’s residence and learns that he is Ralph Danvers, the son of her ward. That evening, at the Hall of Isis, Shaboral’s act includes a hypnotised man performing a gymnastic feat that he would otherwise be incapable of. When Miss Mercombe, who has accompanied Blake to the theatre, sees this man, she recognises him as her fiancé and looses a scream that distracts him, causing him to fall into a safety net. The theatre plunges into darkness. Blake finds Atheling leaving by a side entrance accompanied by Shaboral. When he tries to stop them, the mystic blows a powder into his face which renders him unconscious. When he recovers, it’s to find his quarry vanished. A few days later, Blake manages to place We-wee in the household of Miss Mercombe’s guardian, there to serve as a page. The boy manages to intercept a note for Danvers and reports the Blake that it came from Rotterdam. The detective journeys to that city and there once again encounters Atheling and Shaboral. The latter, exercising his mesmeric control, forces Atheling to jump from a bridge into a river. Blake leaps to the rescue but Atheling then denies that he’s in any sort of trouble and evades his saviour. While Blake loses track of his quarry, We-wee follows Danvers to the Hague and there reunites with Blake and puts him on the right track. They trace Shaboral to an isolated house. The mystic invites them in, tells them that Atheling has died, shows them the man’s corpse, then promptly suffers a brain embolism and drops dead. Danvers appears and confesses that he hired the mesmerist to prevent Atheling from marrying Miss Mercombe, who he himself loves. Atheling, freed from the trance that made him appear dead, awakens with no memory of what has occurred. The yarn ends with his marriage to the girl.
Trivia: Blake is still resident at Norfolk House, Strand. His client makes reference to the case featured in the previous issue. This story was reprinted in PENNY POPULAR issue 72 (1914) under the same title.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆ The usual sort of William Rae Shaw fare; melodramatic nonsense that amounts to little more than an extended chase.
THE CIGARETTE CLUE UNION JACK · 1st series · Issue 245 · 31/12/1898 · Amalgamated Press · ½d
THE CIGARETTE CLUE
by William Shaw Rae · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: Don Darrel by Henry T. Johnson; The Sign of the Scarlet Cross by Claud Heathcote.
Notes: Financier's clerk Herbert Fillington is delivering a wallet containing twenty thousand pounds to the Bank of England when he is distracted by a Frenchman who first asks directions then causes a scene when the cigarette he's smoking burns his fingers. Upon the foreigner's departure, Herbert discovers that the wallet has been stolen from beneath his nose. The bank asks Sexton Blake to investigate, warning that Herbert will be utterly ruined if suspicion falls upon him. The young clerk takes Blake to the scene of the crime and there the detective finds the cigarette cast aside by the Frenchman. A very rare brand, he traces it to a tobacconist's and from there gets on the trail of a Monsieur Pierrot. Locating the man's lodgings, he and Herbert break in and find the wallet. They escape with it just as Pierrot returns, sees them, and flees, but find that it contains only a crumpled newspaper. In this, they find a clue in the "agony" column, it being a cryptic mention of "catacombs." While Blake ponders over this, Herbert deduces from the same newspaper that Pierrot will attend a horse race at the weekend. The young clerk goes too, and there confronts the crook only to have him escape. Blake has the revelation that "catacombs" refers to the London sewers. He and Herbert explore the fetid tunnels and there witness Pierrot with the rest of his gang planning to get the money out of the country. Herbert snatches away their spoils and a fight breaks out but it’s interrupted when the sewers are flooded. All combatants are washed away. Blake and Herbert survive, still clutching the stolen money, but the criminals are all killed.
Trivia: Blake is still resident in Norfolk Street. We-wee is mentioned but doesn't have a role to play in this tale. This was reprinted in PENNY POPULAR issue 68 (1914) under the same title.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆



1897
Master List
1899






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