Publishing: Gwyn Evans, one of the most popular of the Sexton Blake authors, makes his first contribution to the saga. He was born in North Wales in 1899. His great-aunt was Marian Evans — better known as George Eliot. Evans was a newspaper journalist in Egypt prior to joining the league of Blake writers where he quickly blossomed into one of the most inventive contributors. Mercurial by nature, Evans wrote all his stories in long-hand and often pushed his editors to the limits of their patience; one yarn tells of how he delivered a manuscript that the editor, after reading the first chapter, paid for, only to later discover that the new material lasted just a few pages before giving way to an old story which Evans had added on to make it look like the manuscript was complete! (Having been paid 'early', Evans delivered the finished work a couple of days later). Among his creations are Splash Page, Ruff Hanson, and The League of Onion Men. He was also responsible for developing Mrs Bardell's character, especially in his much-loved Christmas stories. Gwyn Evans died at an early age on 7th April 1938.
Author Andrew Murray makes his last contribution to the Sexton Blake saga before being incapacitated by a severe mental illness that caused paralysis. He died in 1929.
Notes: A sudden flood of ivory on the market has Sexton Blake is sent to India to locate the source. In a remote region of that country, Mademoiselle Yvonne is staying with a friend when a bedraggled man, Bob King, staggers out of the jungle. He tells them that, some time ago, he had stumbled upon an elephants' graveyard, which was piled high with ivory, and had been granted a license to retrieve and export it. He'd travelled to England, where he met with Hammerton Palmer to form a syndicate to exploit the cache. The two men voyaged back to India but Palmer betrayed King, who was imprisoned in a cave before he managed to escape and flee into the jungle. Yvonne helps King to plot his revenge. Blake and Tinker arrive in the country and quickly learn that Palmer is behind the ivory shipments. When Palmer learns of their presence, he has Tinker kidnapped and held captive. Blake spots Vaughan, the captain of Yvonne's yacht, and wonders what she is doing in the region. Later, as he travels by boat deeper into the interior, the detective is ambushed by Palmer's men and has to swim to safety. Meanwhile, Yvonne mounts an expedition to the cache of ivory. There, she captures Palmer and has him confined to the same cave that King had been held in. She and her crew load the ivory onto rafts and set forth on a river bound for the coast. Blake locates the men who had attacked him, disables them, and rescues Tinker. Gathering a squad of native policemen, he heads toward the elephant's graveyard. En route, he learns of — and is infuriated by — Yvonne's involvement. Dividing his forces, he sends men on to the graveyard while he intercepts the young adventuress. Yvonne falls into his trap and is forced to surrender her cargo in return for her freedom. Bob King's rights are restored and Hammerton Palmer is sentenced to three years in prison.
Trivia: The events of this story occur very early in the career of Yvonne Cartier. It is therefore unclear exactly where this case should be placed in Hammerton Palmer's timeline.
Notes: Fourteen years ago, the younger brother of an astrologer named John Simpson was murdered in Australia by his business partner, a man named Callahan, who was subsequently lost at sea. Simpson had warned his brother of danger after exploring Callahan's horoscope but to no avail. Now, John Simpson himself is found dead with a knife in his back. He was killed while seemingly working on the chart of a young woman; Adelaide Dacre. She becomes the prime suspect when it's revealed that she was seen at the house on the night of the murder and possesses one of three keys to the residence; the other two being accounted for. She is arrested and charged. A few days later a young man named Cyril Carter asks Blake to help her. The detective discovers that someone else had been at the house and he photographs the evidence. However, his camera is stolen by a crook named Bill Ivorson who Blake and Tinker track to an old cellar where they witness him meeting with a gang of criminals led by a bully named Vinor. To their surprise, the meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Cyril Carter, who appears to be in with the gang. Blake deduces that Ivorson is actually Billy Dacre, Adelaide's brother, and that they are all mixed up in a smuggling racket. Next day, Billy Dacre is found dead. Tinker investigates Carter but is captured and held to ransom; Blake is told to give false evidence to ensure Adelaide's release. Meanwhile, the girl in question is rescued from the police authorities. Blake traces her to a boat in Norfolk where she is hiding with her rescuer — a man whose identity and motives are revealed by Simpson's astrological chart, which had never been that of Adelaide Dacre as everyone had thought. The detective untangles a web of intrigue by using astrology, saves Tinker and the girl, and brings the real villains to book.
Notes: In a thick fog, Tinker is invited into a house by girl — Miss Jackson — who immediately realises that she's made a mistake and hustles him out. The next day, Sexton Blake is commissioned by the secretary, Campion, and uncle, Mr Savage, of a young millionaire named Mitchell, to find him and discover why he is playing fast and loose with his shares, rocking the stock exchange. Three weeks previously Mitchell had left England for a rest cure, taking with him a man named Aubrey Dare. When Tinker sees a photo of the companion, he recognises him from a picture he saw in Miss Jackson's house. Tinker finds a note that appears to be from from Dare, in which he professes his love for the girl. Blake discovers that Mitchell is most likely in America, so he and Tinker take passage to that country. Aboard ship, they encounter Sholto Barr, a big Canadian, and befriend him. One night Tinker is surprised to discover that Miss Jackson is also on the ship. He tries to accost her but an unseen assailant stops him. Afterwards, Sexton Blake finds a scrap of black blotting paper at the scene of his assistant's encounter. Miss Jackson eludes them when the ship docks in New York. They pursue her but discover that Barr is also on her trail. Far from being a friend, he is a gang boss. The detective traces the girl to an apartment block but falls into a trap set by Barr and barely escapes by climbing down a lift shaft. Later, at a ball held by one of the city's financiers, he bumps into Eileen Hale, who seems to have some connection with the gangster. She tries to frame him for a petty theft but the detective spoils her scheme and departs. Tinker, meanwhile, catches up with Miss Jackson who reveals that the gang is holding her lover prisoner; a man named Allan Delafield. Blake breaks up the gang before rejoining Tinker. Miss Jackson reveals it is not Aubrey Dare with Mitchell but somebody else. When they eventually catch up with Mitchell, he proves to also be Delafield, the girl's lover ... and Dare is Gilbert Hale! Though held at gunpoint by Eileen, Blake explains to Mitchell/Delafield how the real Aubrey Dare had been replaced by Gilbert who, working with Barr, had been attempting to work an enormous financial coup. Blake overpowers Eileen. She flees and warns Gilbert and Sholto Barr that the game is up. The criminals all get away.
Trivia: Though Gilbert Hale plays a key role in the story, he is never actually "on stage." "Trouble" Nantucket receives a passing mention.
Notes: Sexton Blake and Tinker are stranded when their car breaks down in a snowstorm. They find that they're close to a country club, Crossham Hall, so call there for help and are offered accommodation. Sensing something strange about the place, they give the proprietor, Mortimer Washburn, false names. After a young woman, June Ingram, warns Tinker to leave as soon as he can, it begins to seem like the club's patrons are more prisoners than guests .... and among them are Gilbert and Eileen Hale! The next morning, Washburn tells the detectives that he can no longer spare them a room, so Blake and Tinker take lodgings in the nearest village. That night, while watching the hall, they witness the arrival of a young man. Blake leaves his assistant in concealment and spies as Washburn interviews the newcomer, who turns out to be Jim Ingram, June's brother. The youth hits the proprietor over the head and knocks him cold before escaping. Before he can follow, Blake is pounced on by a member of Washburn's staff. The detective races away and is picked up by a car whose driver has mistaken him for Jim. He is driven all the way to London and to house which he enters without the driver ever realising he's got the wrong passenger. While the man garages the car, Blake discovers from letters that his name is Edward Rippon. Rippon returns and Blake confronts him, deduces that the man is in love with June Ingram, but gets no further information. Jim Ingram arrives and the two men overpower the criminologist and flee. The next day, Rippon arrives at Crossham Hall and is given a room. Tinker receives a note from June, who pleads for his help. He breaks into the hall to search for her but ends up in the company of Eileen Hale and Rippon. The latter, however, turns out to be a disguised Blake. When they hear a body falling in the room above they hurry to it and find Gilbert in the throes of death by poisoning. Blake gives emergency aid and saves the crook's life. In gratitude, Eileen confesses that the note to Tinker had been from her to tempt him to the house. She also ensured that Washburn's people would be waiting for him. Once they'd got him out of the way, the Hales had then intended to blackmail the proprietor, who they know is extorting money with menaces from the guests. The detective, still masquerading as Rippon, meets with Washburn and discovers the hold the man has over the Ingrams. When the real Rippon turns up, Blake reveals his true identity and holds the Washburn and his henchmen at gunpoint while Tinker fetches the police. The villains are arrested and hauled away. The Hales tell Blake that they've decided to go for a long holiday.
Trivia: In this issue, Blake and Tinker drive a Hispana Suiza (pictured) but the detective states that he owns a number of vehicles.
Tinker's collars are marked with his "real initials," though these aren't revealed. "E. C." perhaps?
Notes: On the cover and spine, this story is called NEXT OF KIN. Inside, it's called NEXT O' KIN.
Notes: Two years after being convicted under a false name for murder, Professor Gideon Reece, the brother of the late Mr Reece, is rescued by the Criminals' Confederation from a prison colony. John Rexus, formerly the president's right-hand man, reports to him that the villainous organisation is in disarray thanks to the efforts of Sexton Blake, while its current president, the treacherous Ysabel de Ferre, has not been heard of since she joined forces with Doctor Deeming Stain, whose drug ring was subsequently smashed by Blake. Rexus makes Gideon Reece the new president. He hands over an envelope containing instructions through which the professor will be able to claim two million in reserve funds plus all the necessary membership details and codes. On a ship named the Sea Rover, they set sail for London and, en route, encounter a drifting lifeboat in which are discovered Doctor Deeming and the Black Duchess. Both are immediately taken prisoner. Some days later, an attempt is made to assassinate Sexton Blake at his Baker Street home and a photograph of Reece is left on the mantelpiece. Then Detective-Inspector Coutts arrives in a dishevelled state and claims to have been attacked by Reece. Blake receives a call from the Livesey Safe Deposit where the corpse of a man has been found sprawled across the small chest he'd been sent to retrieve by a client named Jason Seers, who has not been seen for two years. While Blake and Coutts are examining the scene, Seers arrives — in fact, a heavily disguised Professor Reece — and takes the chest away. He then rides a cab to Baker Street, tricks Tinker into entering the vehicle, and throttles him into unconsciousness. The youngster is taken to the Sea Rover. Reece joins Rexus who attempts to open the chest and promptly dies. The professor realises that his late brother had the container booby trapped to protect the documents that are contained within. Blake and Coutts, meanwhile, barely survive after a Confederation man drives them off a bridge and into the Thames. They are rescued by a fire-float, which then races to where a docked ship is burning. It is the Sea Rover, and when Tinker is rescued from it, he tells Blake who attacked and captured him. Blake doesn't believe that Mr Reece has been resurrected from the dead but he nevertheless realises that his battle with the Criminals' Confederation is about to hot up again. Meanwhile, Professor Reece puzzles over how to get the chest open.
Trivia: Mr Reece is referred to by the author as the founder of the Criminals' Confederation. Has John Smith been forgotten?
Rating: ★★★★☆ The coincidence of Reece's ship discovering Ysabel de Ferre aboard a lifeboat is way too hard to swallow!
Notes: None at present.
Notes: Story features Granite Grant.
Notes: A notorious American cracksman known as Mr Moonshine, arrives in London having been summoned by the Criminals' Confederation. Meanwhile, Dirk Dolland encounters John Fade, who has just been released from prison. Fade is eager to rescue Ysabel de Ferre aka the Black Duchess from St. Madros island, where he thinks she is trapped with Doctor Deeming Stain. After promising to stay a few days with Fade at Deen House, a country manor, Dolland visits Sexton Blake and finds him with Detective-Inspector Coutts, who asks him whether he has ever encountered Mr Moonshine, who he resembles, and who is rumoured to be in the city. Dolland does not disclose that the American crook is, in fact, his younger brother, Denzil. At that moment, the subject of their discussion is being ushered into the presence of Jason Seers, who has taken possession of Deen House. The president introduces himself by his real name, Professor Jason Reece, and reveals that his late sibling left instructions directing him to summon the American. For what reason, he cannot know until he manages to open the booby-trapped chest that contains the Confederation's secrets. John Fade arrives, furious to find his property invaded, but is taken aback when Reece reminds him that he made an oath of alliance to the Confederation. The president demands to know where Fade hid the million pounds' worth of diamonds he had with him when he landed on St. Madros. Fade refuses to answer but, thinking that the Black Duchess is still on the island, inadvertently divulges the fact that she knows where they are. Reece, of course, is holding her prisoner, and now has her brought to him. When she refuses to speak, Reece condemns his two captives to death and has them bound to a railway track. A telegram for Fade is delivered, in which Dolland's imminent arrival is announced. Delighted that another of his enemies is about to fall into his hands, Reece stalks off to lure Blake, Tinker and Coutts to the house by means of a trick telephone call. He forgets that the entire proceedings have been witnessed by Denzil Dolland, who has quietly watched from a shadowy corner. Blake and his companions drive to Deen House but on the way stop to change a burst tyre. While they are doing so, Pedro discovers Fade and de Ferre, who are rescued just as a train bears down on them. Dolland arrives at the house and is taken captive. Reece requires his skills to open the booby-trapped chest. Not long after, Blake, Tinker and Coutts show up, purposely walking into the trap that has been laid for them. When they are confronted by Reece and Mr Moonshine, the detective tells them that the house has been surrounded by police. Reece tries to shoot him but Moonshine knocks the gun wide and the bullet hits a lamp. When the light is restored, Reece has gone, having escaped through a secret tunnel. Moonshine reveals himself to be, in fact, Dirk Dolland, whose brother liberated him and exchanged clothes with him before fleeing. He maintains the secret of their relationship. Ysabel de Ferre is allowed to go free.
Notes: While on a case in the Midlands town of Covingtree, Sexton Blake and Tinker save the day when a crane goes out of control in a factory they happen to be passing. They quickly learn that the place — owned by a Mr Verrinder — has experienced a number of near-disasters recently and is also being 'haunted' by ghostly wails and by the machines which mysteriously start up during the night. When Blake asks whether Verrinder has any enemies, he is informed that the neighbouring business, Spolson's, cannot expand due to the presence of the Verrinder factory and is experiencing financial problems. When he detects evidence that someone has been spying on his investigations, Blake follows the trail to Spolson's and witnesses a man taking a delivery of dynamite to Mr Spolson. Meanwhile, Tinker discovers that Gilbert and Eileen Hale are in town and follows them as they snoop around the outskirts of the factory. They turn on him, tie him up, bundle him into a lorry and send it careening onto a railway line where it is hit by a locomotive. Tinker is thrown clear. That night, he keeps watch on the factory and, when all the lights and machinery suddenly come on, he enters to search for the cause. He finds nothing except for a black cat. Then, in a store room, he is confronted by a weird apparition that holds him spellbound. Breaking its grip, he flees and fetches a policeman. They return to find nothing ... except the dead black cat! Sexton Blake follows Spolson to nearby Birmingham and sees him meeting with a man on the city's outskirts. As night closes in, the two men, followed by the detective, carry boxes of dynamite to an abandoned coal mine into which they disappear. Blake follows but is spotted and lured into a trap, finding himself imprisoned underground with an explosive device which, when it goes off, will loose an underground lake on top of him! Tinker, by this time, has left Verrinder's and followed the Hales to the mine, where he witnesses them holding Spolson and his henchman at gunpoint. Gilbert reveals that he knows the manufacturer plans to blast the underground lake causing the ground beneath his factory to subside so that he can claim £100,000 insurance. Gilbert demands £80,000 to keep quiet. A fight breaks out in which Tinker becomes involved. Spolson falls to his death. The Hales escape. Tinker races to the Verrinder factory to fetch men to help him free Blake but while there he is astonished to see his guv'nor emerging from a hole in the wall. Blake explains that an underground fault-line has been feeding sounds from a neighbouring mine into the building. He also provides a rational explanation for the other 'ghostly' events.
Notes: Story features The Owl and Adrian Steele. This was the last Blake story written by Andrew Murray and it marks the final appearance of The Owl.
Notes: While in New York, Mademoiselle Yvonne Cartier is visited by a Chinaman, Kan-Loo. This man's daughter, Tu-Yen-Lee, had a suitor named Lin-to but he absconded with a music-hall girl and three thousand pounds of embezzled money. Tu-Yen-Lee's reputation has suffered, and Kan-Loo asks Yvonne to find Lin-to and force from him a statement that will restore her good name. Yvonne sails to Singapore to confront Lin-to's adopted father, Lee Sing. The latter is a member of the Four Lakes Tong, which is in fierce opposition to the Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle. Despite their previous unhappy encounters, Yvonne sends a message to Prince Wu Ling in the hope that he will help her in her mission. While she and her Uncle Graves are dining at the Raffles Hotel, a man named Tom Ligan looks at her in an insulting manner and is thrown out by another diner. This is witnessed by Sexton Blake and Tinker, who are at the hotel, en route to London. Yvonne meets with Wu Ling in the Temple of Unity at the harbour-facing end of the Street of Many Lanterns. The prince agrees to hand Lee Sing over to Yvonne in return for passage to San Francisco. This is arranged for the morrow, but, as Yvonne and her party depart, she is kidnapped by Ligan. Graves, thinking that Wu Ling has betrayed her, prepares to attack the temple. Sexton Blake, meanwhile, meets with Lee Sing, who is one of Hong-Lo-Soo's agents, the latter being an enemy of Wu Ling and an ally of Blake's. The Chinaman tells him about his adopted son's dishonourable conduct and how Yvonne has been sent to Singapore on a mission of vengeance for Kan-Loo. Lee Sing, however, is himself taking care of Lin-to's punishment and is continuing to make every effort to compensate the girl whose reputation the young man tarnished. Nevertheless, he fears that he will be kidnapped and, indeed, that night, he is abducted by Tom Ligan at Wu Ling's behest. Blake and Tinker learn of this and set out to the temple, arriving just as Graves launches an attack on it. Explaining to the detective that Yvonne has been double-crossed by the prince, Graves calls on Blake to help recover her. The detective agrees and they join forces. The commotion has drawn crowds of Chinamen and now sets off a battle between rival tongs. Amid the melee, Blake confronts Wu Ling, who denies any betrayal and informs the detective that Ligan has Yvonne. Blake and Graves make their way to Ligan's house, where they find the mademoiselle and Lee Sing, both bound and gagged. There is no sign of Ligan. With the rescue completed, the parties separate. Lee Sing writes a deposition so that Tu-Yen-Lee's "face be saved" and Lin-to adds his support to it by committing suicide.
Trivia: It is unclear where in Wu Ling's timeline this adventure falls but it occurs early in the career of Yvonne, when she has dealt with some, but not all, of the men who brought ruin to her family; is still considered to be an opponent by Sexton Blake; and has pitted her wits against Wu Ling "on more than one occasion."
Notes: The secret service asks Blake to prevent Zenith the Albino from delivering a government paper to Austria. The document concerns trade negotiations with Russia, that are currently under way in Hellesdon, near Norwich. Financiers concerned with the meetings have been dying aboard the dining-car of the train that takes them to the negotiations. To protect his interests, the albino has formed a Murder Squad—a gang of gunmen who assassinate Zenith’s enemies from a moving vehicle. When Blake becomes their target, the detective scores the first point by leading them into a police cordon. In the resulting gun battle, the entire squad is killed. After then disposing of the enemy agent who was responsible for the deaths on the train, Blake sets out to deal with Zenith. When the finalised paper is transported by train, in the care of a secret service man, the albino lands a glider on the roof of the carriage, successfully steals the document and throws it to his waiting henchmen, then flies off. When he lands, he finds that Blake has been one step ahead. Tinker retrieves the document while Blake battles the albino. In the end, Zenith gets away, but his schemes have been defeated.
Notes: This story is inspired by the great Japanese earthquake of 1923 and features Dr. Huxton Rymer.
Notes: John Rumford, Lawrence Malone and Professor James McKenzie are in Egypt searching for the treasure-filled tomb of the oldest of the pharaohs, Menetakhnan, who was brother to the original Prince Menes, supreme head of the priestly Order of Ra. The professor recounts to his colleagues the prophecy that the brothers and all the individuals who betrayed Menes would be reincarnated together after ten thousand years had passed. That means, he notes, that they are all incarnate somewhere right now, and he warns that the current Prince Menes might well attempt to claim the treasure himself. His tale is interrupted when a strange atmospheric phenomenon envelops the archeological site. A silent, heat-free explosion throws McKenzie into the Nile and he is washed a little way downstream. By the time he makes his way back to the camp, it and his companions have completely vanished. Some weeks later, the professor arrives in London and reports all this to Sexton Blake, requesting that the detective find his missing friends. Blake agrees and he, Tinker and McKenzie travel to Egypt. The detective hires a work crew and instructs his companions to resume the excavation. He then drops out of sight and journeys alone to the excavation site disguised as a Bedouin. There, he reveals to Tinker that Malone and Rumford are, the next day, to be sacrificed by the secret Order of Ra. The tomb of Menetakhnan, he says, was stripped of its treasures many centuries ago and, now, part of that buried temple is to be used for the sacrificial ritual. The detectives infiltrate the ceremony, which is presided over by Prince Menes, and are horrified to see Malone and Rumford on the brink of a pit of molten metal. While Tinker keeps the worshippers at gunpoint, Blake engages with Menes and forces him over the bubbling pool. He demands that the Egyptian order all his men away. Menes does so and Malone and Rumford are rescued. Menes is taken into custody. Weeks later, when they are back in Baker Street, Blake and Tinker are unsurprised to learn that he has escaped.
Trivia: Eight years have passed since Blake’s last run-in with Menes.
Tinker speaks Egyptian Arabic “fairly fluently.”
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ There's too much left unexplained in this story.
Notes: John Fade visits Ysabel de Ferre, the Black Duchess, who is staying in a London hotel under an assumed name. She is being hunted by Professor Jason Reece, who is bent on revenge, and by Detective-Inspector Coutts, who’s determined to bring her to book for her past crimes. She tells Fade that she’ll be sailing for Jorsica in a couple of hours and asks him to deliver a letter to Sexton Blake that contains information she overheard while imprisoned at Deen House (see The Spider's Web, UNION JACK issue 1,061, 1924). After her departure, she falls into the hands of the Brotherhood of the Red Spider, the Chinese branch of the Criminals’ Confederation previously headed by the late Hoang Ho. Meanwhile, Dirk Dolland visits Baker Street and confesses to Blake that the fugitive thief, Mr Moonshine, is his brother. He is still there when Fade delivers the letter. From it, Blake learns that the locked chest containing the Confederation’s reserve funds, which is currently in Reece’s possession (see The Return of Mr. Reece, UNION JACK issue 1,056, 1924), can be opened only by the man who constructed it: Dan Bellamy, who’s currently serving a long prison sentence. Dolland accompanies Blake to Scotland Yard where Coutts reveals that Bellamy is in Moorlands Prison. Coutts accompanies them back to Baker Street in a cab and, upon arrival, spots a man leaving the detective’s residence. He swoops and arrests him, declaring that he’s finally caught Mr Moonshine. His captive, however, claims to be Dolland, and resembles him exactly. Confused, Coutts and Blake peer into the cab in which Dolland had travelled with them. It is empty. Their prisoner is able to prove that he is, indeed, Dolland … meaning that their erstwhile companion was actually Moonshine! Realising that Dolland’s brother is probably already on his way to warn Reece that Bellamy is to be questioned, they race to Moorlands, arriving just in time to witness Bellamy’s escape. A car chase ensues but their quarry somehow gives them the slip. Through Bellamy, Reece gains access to the chest and, upon examining the contents, is amazed at the power his brother had amassed, and which is now his. He also learns that a nearby lighthouse is a Confederation base through which he and his cohorts can escape the area. The villains make their way there, kill one of the keepers, and send a signal by wireless. They wait to be picked up by boat. When the corpse of the murdered man washes ashore and is found, Blake and his friends rush to the scene just as Reece and Bellamy are departing. The detectives enter the lighthouse and climb to the top. Reece sets off explosives on the ground floor, trapping his enemies. As he and his men sail away, a lifeboat comes to Blake & Co’s rescue, shooting up a cable down which they are able to slide to safety. It is too late to catch Reece. The Confederation has just scored a big win.
Notes: A glowing spectre of a hound appears on the London Underground, witnessed by Sexton Blake and Tinker. The following morning, the detective receives a visit from Professor Rufus Llewellyn who informs him that a box containing millions of germs has been stolen from his laboratory. The same morning, the newspapers report the disappearance of Lord Lavendale — a sporting peer — and Tom Gunn, a Labour leader. Blake is visited by a man who claims to be the exiled king of the Mediterranean island of Rosario. He wants the detective to help him regain the throne. However, realising that his visitor is in disguise, Blake sets Tinker to follow him. Tinker does so and finds that the so-called king is actually a man named Mike Malone. Furthermore, Malone had invited Lavendale and Gunn to Rosario. After proving that the glowing hound was nothing but an advertising stunt, Blake and his assistant are flown to the island by an airman named Briscoe. There they find the two missing men who, though they've been gone six days, insist that they left London a mere forty-eight hours ago. They are in Rosario to see how money they've invested has been spent to develop the island as a resort to rival Monte Carlo. Their publicity agent, an American named Brian 'Booster' Bruce, seems similarly confused about the passage of time. When Tinker starts to display the same symptoms, Blake discovers that the cause stems from Rosarios famous spring waters. He then investigates Bruce's room and finds in it Professor Llewellyn's stolen bacilli, which gives him the clue that solves the mystery and connects it to the glowing hound ... and the motive of the 'crime' turns out to be far more prosaic than expected.
Trivia: This story marks the Blake debut of author Gwyn Evans. It was later narrated as a 13-part radio serial. It was also reprinted in the 1998 compilation THE SHADOWS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
Notes: A Sexton Blake story written by the UNION JACK's editor, H. W. Twyman.
Notes: This is part one of a two-part story.
Notes: When Mr. Wyndham Long, out for a stroll, witnesses a young man being forcibly ejected from a house, he goes to his assistance. Bertie Stanton, it turns out, is a bright young inventor who, seeking financial backing from his Uncle Septimus Croft for his electrical business, had been violently refused. Bertie reveals that his uncle is a miserly millionaire and devoted collector of diamonds. Wyndham Long promises to back Bertie to the tune of ten thousand pounds. Some time later, Detective-Inspector Lennard reports to Sexton Blake that Septimus Croft has been stabbed to death. They go to the scene of the crime only to discover that the corpse has gone missing. Bertie, the obvious suspect, turns out to have a cast-iron alibi, and matters are soon exposed as being far from what they seem. Croft’s death was faked; he was only unconscious from an electric shock, and is now locked in a secret room with Wyndham Long—who is, in fact, Waldo the Wonder-Man! The room contains a safe in which Croft keeps his diamonds. When the old miser recovers his senses, Waldo tries to force him to open the safe, but Croft presses a switch that fires up a special incinerator, reducing the gems to graphite—if he can’t have them, no one will! Lennard finds the room, breaks into it, but receives an electric shock from Waldo, who is wearing the same electrical suit that he used in The Flaming Spectre of Cloombe (UNION JACK issue 1,054, 1923). The crook flees. Blake, however, is waiting for him in the home of the supposed “Wyndhom Long.” He tackles the Wonder-Man but, with his amazing strength, Waldo is able to escape. Blake reveals to Tinker that, in fact, he only grappled with the man in order to pick his pockets, having deduced that Waldo rifled Croft’s safe before the old man had regained consciousness, thus tricking him into thinking the gems had been destroyed. Blake returns two-thirds of the loot to Croft. Waldo gets away with the rest, which Blake hadn't managed to secure. The Wonder-Man keeps his word to Bertie by backing the young man’s business with the promised ten thousand.
Notes: Hugh Chudfield, a young inventor, is displaying his latest creation — an impregnable safe — at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. He's offering £5,000 to anyone who can crack it. While explaining to a young couple all the burglar-proof features of the strongroom, Chudfield is momentarily distracted by Ramsden, the owner of another of the exhibition's stalls, who asks if he can store his sales ledgers in the safe for the night. The inventor gives his consent. The next morning, he discovers that the safe has been broken into. He summons Sexton Blake and asks him to find out how it was done and by whom. Blake examines the sales ledgers. They are blank, nothing written in them at all, though one book has a bullet hole passing right through it. Furthermore, Ramsden has gone missing. The young couple arrive and claim responsibility for breaking the safe and demand the reward money. Blake steps from hiding and greets them, revealing them to be Gilbert and Eileen Hale. He suggests they all meet again at four o'clock to give Chudfield the time to get the reward money in cash. The Hales depart. A little later, Blake discovers the body of Ramsden beneath the exhibition's floorboards. When the Hales arrive to collect the reward, Blake tests their knowledge and proves they had nothing to do with the safecracking. He promises not to prosecute them for the fraudulent claim if they help him by following Ramsden's business partner, Connolly. This they do, and the next day report that the fellow spoke to a jewel thief named Groner and arranged to meet him this evening on the exhibition's roller-coaster. Blake, Tinker and the Hales make their way to the assignation point and they watch as Connolly and Groner board a car. At Blake's urging, the Hales and Tinker follow, sitting behind the duo. Gilbert Hale picks Groner's pocket. When the ride is finished, he hands two diamonds to Blake and the detective has Connolly and Groner arrested. The Hales are invited to Baker Street for explanations: Ramsden stole the diamonds from an exhibition stall and hid them in the bullet hole he'd made in the ledgers. Connolly, aware of this, shared the information with Groner, who cracked the safe. Unfortunately, Ramsden interrupted him and was murdered. Connolly met Groner on the roller-coaster to give him the fare for a trip to the Continent, there to sell the gemstones. The Hales receive a £500 gift from Chudfield for their good work.
Trivia: It's nice to see a different side to the young and charming Hales.
Notes: In this issue, readers are asked to vote for whether the Detective Magazine supplement should be continued (the yes votes won).
Notes: Millionaire art collector Mathew Cardolak learns that among a great many crown jewels being auctioned in the Caspian Republic there is a jewelled globe of immense worth. The globe has its origins in an ancient civilisation that once existed in Cambodia ... and Cardolak knows that inside the globe there is another treasure of immeasurable value. He summons The Three Musketeers. He then uses two agents, James Yost and Jerry, to commission a diamond dealer to arrange to view the globe before it goes to auction. During this private viewing, the Three Musketeers pounce, killing the dealer and auctioneer before making off with the globe. Detective-Inspector Thomas and Sexton Blake begin to investigate the murders and when clues lead them to the auctioneer's office, they arrive just as his chief clerk is shot dead. Blake, who due to Cardolak's involvement is certain that the Musketeers are behind the crimes, expects to find that Yost and Jerry are, in fact, two of the villainous trio. He is therefore more than a little surprised when he goes to question them and finds that they are definitely not Musketeers. In fact, they declare themselves to be honest agents of Cardolak, innocent of any crime. Nevertheless, Blake is granted a warrant to board and search Cardolak's yacht, The Sultan, which is currently in French waters. Taking a patrol boat, he catches up with the yacht and leads a boarding party onto its deck. He finds, disguised amongst the engine crew, Archie Pherison and Reggie Fetherston, who are both overpowered and handed over to the French authorities. The globe is recovered and given into the custody of Scotland Yard where further research reveals the secret hidden inside: a huge diamond. Meanwhile, Algy Somerton, who had not been on the yacht, remains at liberty.
Trivia: Mrs Bardell has a niece named Jenny. She also has a soft spot for Detective-Inspector Thomas, who resembles her late husband. For the modern reader, there are some rather unpleasant anti-semitic setiments on display in this tale.
Notes: Story features Leon Kestrel.
Notes: Blake and Dirk Dolland are discussing the mysterious disappearance of John Fade when Detective-Inspector Coutts summons the detective to the scene of a murder. Leaving his friend to it, Dolland goes home only to find his brother, Denzil Dolland aka Mr. Moonshine, waiting for him. Denzil wants out of the Criminals’ Confederation and warns that Professor Reece has returned to London. Dolland decides to masquerade as his brother, while the latter lays low in his apartment, in order to discover where Reece has his headquarters. Following Denzil’s instructions, he makes his way to his sibling’s digs over a mews owned by a Confederation agent. That night, Reece summons him to Dr. Pleydell-Turner’s Private Nursing Home but, before he can attend, Dolland is kidnapped and taken to Fan Too, the son and successor of Hoang Ho, who wants to get hold of the Confederation’s hidden millions before Reece does. He tests Dolland’s identity by presenting to him a prisoner: Ysabel de Ferre aka the Black Duchess. Dolland pretends not to know her and so passes the test. Meanwhile, Blake arrives at Oak House, the home of Sheridan Lewis, whose servant has been strangled. Lewis tells the detective that he has only owned the house for a few weeks but is sure that burglars have repeatedly attempted to rob it. After examining the scene, Blake and Tinker return to Baker Street but are roused by Coutts again when the police constable left to guard Oak House is murdered. Dolland, in the meantime, is told by Fan Too to keep his appointment with Reece at the nursing home. He does so but Reece recognises that he’s not Moonshine and has him tied to a chair. The master crook and his cohorts then disappear into a secret passage that leads to the adjoining property—Oak House—where the Confederation money is hidden. When Reece’s men return bearing a large tin box, Fan Too’s men arrive and attack them, stealing the treasure. At the same moment, Blake and the police arrive next door. Fan Too traps Reece in the passage before making his getaway. Blake sees Reece in the cellar of Oak House and pursues him back along the tunnel. The detective emerges into the room where Dolland is imprisoned. Reece has eluded him by fleeing along a passage that joins the main one. The adventure ends with Reece in possession of the Confederation’s secrets and Fan Too holding its fortune along with his prisoner, Ysabel de Ferre.
Trivia: Dolland’s valet is now named Bennet. Whatever became of Parker?
The deceased Mr. Reece is repeatedly referred to as the late Professor Reece. In the stories covering his reign, he never bore that title.
Notes: Story takes place in China and features Wu Ling.
Notes: Story features Granite Grant.
Notes: Story features the Moonslayer.
Notes: None at present.
Notes: Zenith the Albino is down on his luck. Virtually destitute, he's working with a gang of labourers. Unfortunately, he doesnít fit in with his fellow navvies and is regarded with suspicion. It's not a lifestyle Zenith can maintain for long. By the second page he's been extravagantly generous with what little cash he has, stunned a pub full of workers to silence with a virtuoso performance on a fiddle, and returned to his dingy apartment to tell his female companion (a destitute but faithful girl) who he really is. But how, she wonders, has the great Zenith the Albino fallen into such dire straits? His answer is simple: Sexton Blake. "We fought, he and I, across the years and the continents, in the air, upon the seas, upon the earth and under the earth, and more and more often he defeated me." Blake has made the albino an outcast, blocking all avenues of escape, closing off all his bolt-holes and shutting down all lines of business. Zenith had been forced to escape into the great unwashed masses, taking shelter among the ordinary working classes. But now he has come to a decision. It's time to end this time-wasting and joust with his hated (yet admired) enemy once again. So Zenith sets off for a small English town where he intends to steal a newly invented armour-strengthening formula that he will then sell to a foreign power. He is fully aware that his nemesis is there investigating the murder of the scientist who invented the formula ... and that's where the entertainment really begins: as the tale switches to follow Blake, we know that Zenith is behind the succession of strange events that occur, but the detective doesn't. Their sparring match reaches its heights with a glorious car chase, culminating in a crash that badly injures Zenith.
Rating: ★★★★☆ Sexton Blake is well portrayed in this story: honourable, strong, cunning and tremendously skilled. Even so, he is eclipsed by Zenith who is absolutely fascinating. There is no doubt that the Sexton Blake saga was enjoying its Golden Age when this one was written.
Notes: For seven months since his first encounter with Sexton Blake, John Hasford — aka David Stone aka the Black Eagle — has lived in the Latin Quarter in Paris. When a petty criminal named Louis the Blood is convicted of a crime he didn't commit — the theft of jewels from a jeweller named Dubuis — and is sent to Devil's Island, Hasford smuggles a secret message to him. Communication is returned, directing Hasford to the location of a hidden bottle in which a note is stored. Having retrieved this, Hasford travels to his home in London. Meanwhile, a ship's captain known as Bully Packer is murdered, his neck broken. Detective-Inspector Martin inspires Sexton Blake to connect this crime with the Black Eagle. The original owner of the stolen jewels, the Comtesse de Lussac, asks Blake to investigate the case. He leaves for Paris, aware that Hasford is also on his way there. As his investigations proceed, the detective becomes convinced of Louis the Blood's innocence and begins to suspect Dubuis. These suspicions are correct, as John Hasford well knows, for the note in the bottle has revealed the full story to him. The Black Eagle pays the jeweller a visit but is followed by Blake who overhears what ensues. Hasford accuses Dubuis of faking the robbery so that he might keep the jewels and claim the insurance. He forces the man to write a confession and reveals his intention to keep the loot for himself. However, Blake intervenes and claims the jewels on behalf of his client. He questions Hasford about the murder of Bully Packer but receives a denial which he believes, though it is revealed that the captain was responsible for Hasford's brother's terrible scars. Blake suspects that the brother might be the murderer but can't prove it. Since the Black Eagle has not committed any actual crime, he is free to go.
Trivia: Sexton Blake is the author of Crime and the Criminal and Reminiscences.
Notes: Having invented a functional death ray, Professor Wendell-Masters immediately regrets his success. He announces his achievement to the press but informs them that, tomorrow morning, he will destroy all his research materials. However, when the time comes, he finds that his work has been stolen. Sexton Blake is called in and discovers a written confession from George Marsden Plummer. The master crook soon uses the death ray to murder a judge who had once sent him to Bleakmoor Prison. He then attacks a ship (he has somehow acquired a submarine!) and downs an aeroplane. Blake interviews Wendell-Masters. The inventor, seeming half insane, demonstrates another new ray, which causes complete paralysis in the detective. Picking Blake up, the professor throws him into a well. An underwater passage leads Blake to freedom. Plummer publishes a letter in the newspapers declaring that he intends to sell the Death Ray to China. Blake confronts the buyer—an opium dealer—and, after a tussle, learns from him that the deal will be made tomorrow … with Wendell-Masters! Disguising himself as the Chinaman, Blake attends the meeting and uses the paralysis ray on the inventor, who is in fact a disguised Plummer. When Tinker arrives, Blake reveals to him that the crook has killed Wendell-Masters. The plans for the Death Ray are recovered. The effects of the paralysis ray kill Plummer.
Trivia: This yarn was likely inspired by the publicity surrounding a “Death Ray” invented by Harry Grindell Matthews. The inventor had, earlier in the year, demonstrated the ray to journalists and the War Office. He was, however, suspected of trickery. The subsequent furore in the newspapers caused other would-be inventors to step forward, making so-called death rays the sensation of the day. When none proved their worth, interest dwindled.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ Of the handful of authors responsible for the Plummer yarns, Walter Shute must be credited with the worst. This particular tale is a paltry affair, drawing heavily on coincidence and the by now very well-worn “disguise” trope. Plummer’s death is so undramatic and pointless it is little wonder he was inexplicably resurrected just twelve issues later, in SEXTON BLAKE'S XMAS TRUCE (UNION JACK issue 1,105).
Notes: Escaping from the police, Professor Jason Reece steals a taxi and makes his way to the home of a former member of the Criminals’ Confederation. John Harlowe, now the head cashier at the West Central Bank, regrets his youthful dalliance with crime and is horrified to find Reece on his doorstep. Even worse, the arch-crook now demands that he steal two thousand pounds from the bank. With his wife and children threatened, Harlowe has no choice but to go through with it. The next morning, Henry Chalmers, the bank’s manager, apparently commits suicide. Meanwhile, John Fade, Dirk Dolland and Detective-Inspector Coutts gather at Sexton Blake’s Baker Street residence. Coutts theorises that Reece must be somewhere in London. They discuss the fact that Fan Too is holding Ysabel de Ferre captive, determined that she will reveal the location of the stolen jewels (see The Hunchback of St. Madros, UNION JACK issue 985, 1922). Fade, the only other person who has that information, goes home and places a coded message in the newspapers' personal columns. In it, he promises to reveal the whereabouts of the jewels in return for the Black Duchess’s freedom. Fan Too answers the advert, summons him, and they set sail for St. Madros. Blake, in the meantime, is asked by Coutts to attend the scene at the West Central Bank. Money is missing and suspicion quickly turns to Harlowe, who has by now gone home. Blake and Coutts follow him and, as they enter his house, Harlowe shoots himself, confesses, and tells them that it was Reece who killed Chalmers. Reece himself has been hiding in Harlowe’s home but now makes a break for it. Blake gives chase but the master-crook has an aeroplane waiting in the nearby park. He gets clean away, boards a Confederation ship, and, upon learning where Fan Too is headed, sets course for St. Madros.
Notes: None at present.
Notes: Story features Mlle. Yvonne Cartier.
Notes: While Professor Jason Reece sails for the island of St. Madros, two agents of the Criminals’ Confederation plant a listening device in Sexton Blake’s consulting room. Meanwhile, Blake and Tinker discover that John Fade has set out to rescue Ysabel de Ferre from Fan Too. They race back to Baker Street and are told by Mrs. Bardell that Dirk Dolland is waiting for them. However, though his hat, cane and cigarettes are in the consulting room, the Bat himself is not there. Unknown to them, he stumbled across the listening device and gained access to the unoccupied house next door via the roof. There he tackles the two Confederation agents while bellowing for help. His cries are heard by Blake, Tinker, and the just-arrived Detective-Inspector Coutts. They rush to the scene and the two crooks are caught red-handed, though one of them, known as Red Rat, then gets away. Back in the consulting room, Blake and his friends make plans to sail for St. Madros. The detective requisitions a fast steam yacht—the Sea King—from a wealthy former client, who recommends Captain Cheed to command the vessel. After they’ve all left the room, Red Rat emerges from behind a sofa, having overheard everything. He reports all to London’s chief Confederation man, Jeremy Winslow, who immediately arranges to masquerade as Cheed. Out on the Atlantic, two days distant from St. Madros, Fan Too’s ship is intercepted by a Chinese destroyer, the Huan Wei. When Fan Too meets its captain, Fade, who understands Chinese, hears them discuss the fact that Sexton Blake is on the way. They intend to attack the detective’s yacht with the destroyer, and Fade and de Ferre will then be murdered. That night, Fade and de Ferre escape in the boat that the Huan Wei’s captain used to transfer to Fan Too’s yacht. They get clear only to later be picked up by Professor Reece’s steamer. Sexton Blake and his friends arrive in the region. They leave the Sea King, row to the island, and are shocked to discover that they're not on St. Madros. The Sea King departs, leaving them marooned.
Trivia: The Baker Street house conforms to the most common descriptions. There’s a basement, a ground floor, and two floors above. A detail is added here: on the top floor, a short flight of steps and a narrow door give access to the flat roof, which is surrounded by a high ornamental parapet.
Rating: ★★★★★ A thrilling tale of a three-pronged race!
Notes: Story features Zenith the Albino.
Notes: Story features Leon Kestrel.
Notes: In 1890, Prince Bismarck's private secretary stores a box filled with
his employer's memoirs in the vaults of Goyle's Bank, London. He puts the bank receipt
in a flask which he throws into the Thames. He is never seen again. Thirty years later,
the flask is found by a river worker who takes it to Sexton Blake. A German agent named
Stromburg has a brief tussle with the detective before raiding the bank and stealing
the memoirs. By intercepting a letter from Lord Vavasour to Stromburg's employer, Count
Dorflisch, Blake learns what the box in the bank vault had contained. Vavasour's letter
concerns a forthcoming meeting between him and Dorflisch. When this occurs at Vavasour's
home, Mylton Towers, Dorflisch reveals that the memoirs contain damning facts about Vavasour's
father. His attempted blackmail is cut short though; Vavasour leaves the room for a moment
and when he returns he finds a man dead on the floor and Dorflisch gone. But even worse,
he discovers that important government papers pertaining to Persia have been stolen from
his desk. A disguised Sexton Blake arrives on the scene to investigate and sees that
the dead man is Stromburg. Meanwhile,
Sir Vyrmer Fane, head of the Secret Service, sends
Granite Grant to find out what has become of the Persian documents.
Mademoiselle Julie also appears on the scene. Between them, they identify the
real killer, reclaim Vavasour's lost papers and recover the Bismarck memoirs.
Trivia: This is based on The SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY novel THE MYSTERY BOX (series 1, issue 151, 1920) from which this review derives. It was later reworked again for THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD as SEXTON BLAKE SOLVES IT and again as SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 5th series novel 28 with the title THE CASE OF THE BISMARK MEMOIRS (1966).
Notes: Story features Dr. Huxton Rymer, Mlle. Yvonne Cartier and George Marsden Plummer.