The Keeler
Dustjacket Vault
presents

Ward Lock Editions

Updated September 15, 2005

Keeler published 48 novels with Ward, Lock & Co.
Often they were illustrated very handsomely.

Black-and-white images below are photocopies of dustjackets I found among Keeler's papers at Columbia University. Unfortunately, color reproductions of the jackets were too expensive for me. Anyone who can send me a color scan -- please do so!


 

 

The Voice of the Seven Sparrows (Ward Lock, ca. 1929): A very handsome, colorful design. Courtesy of Eysteinn Björnsson.

"'I'm going to bring in an interview with the missing Beatrice Mannerby, signed by her in her own handwriting, and explaining to the public exactly why she disappeared.'

"When Absalom Smith, ex-reporter of the Leader, made this boast, he little realised through what an intricate network of intrigue and mystery he was going to traverse, and what other plottings were to come to light as he went.

"A first-class Keeler novel."

   

 

Find the Clock (Ward Lock, ca. 1929): Another beautiful jacket with subtle colors. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"'John Chinaman: Take this message at once to Miss Rita Thorne, The Broadbury, somewhere on Independence Boulevard, Chicago. You have letter from London. Secure immediately old alarm clock owned by uncle described in letter. Remember there were two similar clocks, one formerly used by servant. Pay anything to get the right one of the two. Lock it fast in downtown safety vault. Then notify Catherwood you have clock and hold all cards.'

"This, written on a handkerchief, caused a search for surely the most elusive clocks in the world!"

   

 

Sing Sing Nights (Ward Lock, ca. 1929): A very realistic depiction of our three storytellers. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"'McCaigh, Eastwood, Krenwicz -- one of you failed to fire on the night of June the eleventh. That man, whoever he is, need not go to the chair if he will absolve himself. I have here a pardon, filled out -- signed by myself. It is blank on the top line. That blank is for you three to fill in -- to help you to decide which two among you fired, and which one did not ......... In the next ten minutes, gentlemen, I would suggest that you realize you are facing destiny.'

"Thus the story opens, on a scene of vivid realism in Sing Sing Prison. The climax is startling and unexpected, but before that is reached there is a wealth of incident and movement contained within the interlapping circles of three remarkable stories."  

 

     

 

The Amazing Web (Ward Lock, 1929): The original dustjacket for this novel features a realistic courtroom scene. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"This is the stirring story of an American barrister's defence of an English client who is tried for murder. At the first trial the jury disagree; and at the second it takes all the barrister's skill and ingenuity to disentangle all the threads of 'the amazing web.' This is one of the most ingenious and thrilling stories about a trial ever written, and the reader is held spellbound through speech and counter-speech, evidence and testimony, until the last page is reached. THE AMAZING WEB is a book to read twice."  

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Web (Ward Lock reprint, early 1930s): A spiderweb (clever, huh?) is on the cover of the small reprint edition of this novel.

The blurb is short and sweet: "This is one of the most ingenious and thrilling stories about a trial ever written, and the reader is held spellbound through the evidence and testimony until the last page is reached. THE AMAZING WEB is a book to read twice."

 

   

 

 

 

The Amazing Web (Ward Lock, 1930s, paperback): This paperback version of the book offers a third design, which combines the spiderweb with a picture of the girl. They just couldn't make up their minds about how to present this book! Collect 'em all .... Courtesy of Art Scott.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth King (Ward Lock, 1929): There are at least two versions of this jacket. The first (courtesy of Gavin L. O'Keefe) features J. Hamilton Eaves. The second (courtesy of Chris Mikul), probably the reprint version, shows Eaves on the spine and playing cards on the front.

"One after another of a group of shady American financiers receives a pack of cards from which one of the kings has been extracted, and is afterwards found murdered. When a similar pack is sent to Mr. J. Hamilton Eaves, he induces one of his staff to impersonate him. Then things happen indeed. This is a story which really merits the often misused recommendation of being a 'thriller'."  

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Jade Hand (Ward Lock, 1930): A lovely, subtle design. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"Casimer Jech, a curio dealer, has been shot to death by a cracksman whom obviously he had surprised tinkering at his safe in the middle of the night, and Dick Mattox was on the horns of a dilemma, not knowing whether a crook friend of his had taken him too literally, or whether it was his prospective father-in-law who was guilty. The solving of the problem makes one of the most breathless detective stories ever written."  

 

 

 

 

The Blue Spectacles (Ward Lock, 1931): A simple but effective design incorporates publicity for HSK's other novels.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thieves' Nights (Ward Lock, 1931): This wonderful design takes its inspiration from the intricate webwork plot structure of the novel. Courtesy of Art Scott. Next to it you see a jacket for a reprint edition, using a generic design for Ward Lock mysteries. What's interesting is that the jacket specifically for this volume seems to have been inspired by the generic jacket.

"Bayard DeLancey was the King of Thieves. A Russian by birth, and educated in England at the expense of an English nobleman, he is cosmopolitan to his finger-tips. He is also clever with a cleverness to to be acquired through ordinary education, and Mr. Keeler, in one of his most vivid stories, makes full use of the opportunities which such a type affords. The hero of the book, too, is a man of adventure, and when he is paid by a father to impersonate his dead son the situation is created for so remarkable a set of events that no lover of ingenious fiction can afford to miss it."

 

 

 

 

The Tiger Snake (Ward Lock, 1931): One of the most realistic covers ever done for a Keeler novel. Striking and beautiful.

"Why was there such a determined effort to regain, dead or alive, a lost tiger-snake, last seen near a Chicago railway track? What was the mystery connected with it, to cause the strange advertisement that appeared in the papers? This is one of the most intricate and cleverly-designed stories ever invented about crookdom, and no one, once it has been taken up, will be able to put it down till the mystery of the tiger-snake has been disclosed."

 

 

The Black Satchel (Ward Lock, 1932): It's a satchel! It's black! Courtesy of Gavin L. O'Keefe.

"Jerry Evans gets indicted for the murder of Matilda Hunter, and it is only when the Police call in Tuddleton Trotter, an old criminological scientist, that unexpectedly the story of the French lunatic and his lethal ray-throwing machine comes into the foreground. This is a typical Keeler novel."  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Box from Japan (Ward Lock, 1933): looks like a subtle Oriental design.

Color image needed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind That Mask (Ward Lock, 1933): This is it -- the mask itself.

 

 

 

     





 

The Crilly Court Mystery (Ward Lock, 1933): This is a strange one. Apparently the artist was inspired by the gargoyle-like "man from Saturn" on the Dutton edition of this novel, but tried to add some of Ward Lock's typically stylish geometric motifs. Courtesy of Christopher Wheeler.

"An old dealer in curios is murdered in Chicago. For what? And why? A newspaper man unearths the motive and lays bare the truth in one of Harry Stephen Keeler's most deft mystery stories, and there is no writer of this kind of fiction to-day who handles his material with more intricate cleverness or more compelling drama."

 

 

Under Twelve Stars (Ward Lock, 1933): A geometrical design with no relation to the story.

Color image needed.  

 

 

  

 

  

 

Ten Hours (Ward Lock, 1934): Another stylish, restrained design.

Color image needed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fiddling Cracksman (Ward Lock, 1934): They chose a still life composition for this jacket. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"Billy Hemple, author, ridiculed the possibility of romance as it is written ever becoming real. Fate, in revenge for his unbelief, involved him in a tangle of happenings in which a burglar who broke into houses merely to play a violin, a mysterious Chinaman acting as fairy godfather to a girl he had never met, and that girl's being involved in the succession to the throne of a Balkan kingdom, are only part of an absorbing, swiftly-moving drama. This story shows Keeler at his satiric best."

 

 

 

 

The Travelling Skull (Ward Lock, 1934): A delightful interpretation of the title anticipates the iconography of the Hell's Angels. Courtesy of Gavin O'Keefe.

"Through blundering stupidity, a car conductor exchanged a black bag containing the skull of an obviously murdered man, with a similar bag that Clay Calthorpe was carrying when he returned home. From the moment that Calthorpe discovered the skull, he became enmeshed in a tangle so bewildering that its solution seemed utterly impossible, although, failing that solution, the whole of his own life is threatened with ruin. 'The Travelling Skull' is one of Mr. Keeler's most arresting and compelling stories."

 

 

 

 

The Five Silver Buddhas (Ward Lock, 1935): What makes these Buddhas look so bizarre? Is it their "see no evil" posture? Is it the combination of Indian and Chinese styles? This illustration is strongly reminiscent of the jacket of The Voice of the Seven Sparrows (see above). Courtesy of Eysteinn Björnsson. Thanks to Gavin O'Keefe for the blurb.

"Penn Harding, newspaperman, little thought, when he bought one of five 'blinded' Buddhas, that he was buying his way into a tangled maze of danger, political intrigue, and crime of which he himself was accused. The Buddhas were by repute unlucky trinkets: Harding's purchase of one led him along a tortuous path, the depicting of which results in one of Keeler's most thrilling mysteries."  

 

 

 

The Marceau Case (Ward Lock, 1936): The police take careful measurements of the croquet lawn where Marceau met his bizarre "dispatchal." Courtesy of Art Scott.

"WHEN Alec Snide turns what he calls 'the Snidian brain' to investigation of the baffling Marceau murder case, he has to find a solution in a given time to beat an official detective engaged on the case. His steps towards the finding of Marceau's murderer, presented as they are in an entirely novel manner, render this one of the best stories Harry Stephen Keeler has yet written."  

 

 

 

X. Jones (Ward Lock, 1936): This attractive cover shows a couple of "autogyros" and the big neon arrow that stood atop Marceau's house. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"The 'fourth dimensional' methods employed by Xenius Jones in investigating the Marceau Case bring an entirely new system of deduction into mystery stories. Jones, it is safe to say, is one of Keeler's most fascinating creations, and his solution of the Marceau mystery makes a story that will grip every reader's attention, not merely to the last page, but to the final surprising sentence."

 

 

 

 

The Wonderful Scheme (Ward Lock, 1936): this alligator bag plays an important role in this convoluted tale. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"There is no more skilful weaver of plots than Mr. Harry Stephen Keeler, and from the moment that Kwan Yung enters the office of Oliver Edward Marceau, there begins a web of tangled events that hold the reader spellbound, until Phillip Erskine confronts Christopher Thorne with the proofs of his own innocency of embezzling fifty thousand dollars from the said Thorne. But it is the inside of the story that matters, and Mr. Keeler has never held his reader more deftly and assuredly than in 'The Wonderful Scheme'."

 

 

 

 

The Mysterious Mr. I(Ward Lock, 1937): One of the most attractive and stylish Ward Lock dustjackets -- and also one of the hardest to find. Painted by Leonard Cohen (?). Courtesy of Dennis Duncan.

"Whether as a medical student, safe-cracking college professor, or in any other of the multitude of personalities which the bewildering Mr. I assumes he leads the reader through a web of mystery as engrossing as it is involved. Not until the last page of the story does he reveal his real personality, and a startlingly abrupt climax is a fitting end to this first-class Keeler novel."  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Thief Meets Thief(Ward Lock, 1938): Another bold painting from Abbey! Courtesy of Chris Mikul.

"Tillary Steevens, novelist, stole the plots of all the stories that brought him fame. Jerry Hammond, rightful owner of the said plots, was driven by fate to making a living as a cracksman, after he had undergone a bewildering series of adventures in a South American republic. How he turned the tables on Steevens, won his 'Princess,' and achieved happiness, make up a story which for sheer thrill and fascinating unexpectedness fairly out-Keelers Keeler."  

 

 

 

 

Cheung, Detective (Ward Lock, 1938): Unlike its American counterpart, this is a non-racist cover that presents our hero in an atractive light. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"A big engineering concern is time and again outbidden by a rival organisation in tendering for contracts. There is obviously a leakage of information from the Board Room, and even when the strictest watch is being kept on all the staff who are engaged in the estimating department and they are practically kept prisoners, the leakage still continues. Who could be responsible, and how is the information being smuggled out? Let Harry Stephen Keeler tell you."  

 

 

 

The Magic Ear-Drums (Ward Lock, 1939): A remarkably realistic painting by Abbey for a remarkably unrealistic book. Try covering up one side of the cracksman's face, and then the other! Thanks to Eysteinn Björnsson for the image.

"The man who climbed in through the window of Bookmaker King's home in Minneapolis claimed that, by the aid of his artificial ear-drums, he could hear sounds totally inaudible to ordinary people, and by listening could manipulate any combination lock and open any safe. What happened when the occupant of the house bade him open Mrs. King's safe and render her diamonds available forms the climax of as swiftly-moving and dramatic a story as even Keeler has ever written."

The back cover shows a portrait of Keeler and a list of his titles, with the quote: "Mr. Keeler is infinitely plausible at infinite speed. He is a serious Wooster of the thrills." -- Daily Telegraph.

 

 

Find Actor Hart (Ward Lock, 1939): This cover represents the portrait of Jirjohn Cobb -- which provided the title for the American version of this novel. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"LUKE BRISTER, mid-West sheriff, marooned on a Mississippi island, which is due to be submerged by the rising flood waters, in company with three men, one of whom the sheriff has reason to believe is Actor Hart, bank robber, murderer and escaped life-sentence prisoner -- but any one of the three might be Hart, and the sheriff has no means of proving who. Thick fog on the river renders rescue impossible, and there are but three life-belts between the four men. Here is a tense, thrilling drama."  

 

 

 

 

Cleopatra's Tears (Ward Lock, 1940): Wow! This is a dramatic one. Courtesy of Eysteinn Björnsson.

"Four men, three of whom are suspects -- one must be a dangerous criminal -- are marooned on Bleeker's Island, with a Mississippi flood threatening to drown them at any moment by submerging the island. How the jewels, known as Cleopatra's tears, got to America, and how they played a part in declaring the real identities of the three suspects, form one of Keeler's best mysteries, with the inevitable twist at the end."

On the back inside jacket flap: "What the reviewers say about HARRY STEPHEN KEELER'S work:--"

FIND ACTOR HART

"With a fine command of both colloquial speech and melodramatic action, Mr. Keeler does not spare us a minute of tension. Though perhaps more a play in prose than a novel, both the dialogue and stage directions have a fascination not easily foregone." --Truth.

"As neat and 'slick' a story as has yet come from this author's pen. The reader will enjoy this thriller to the last chapter." --Irish Independent.

"With a minimum of action, Mr. Keeler makes a full-length novel of great interest. The dramatic finish does great credit to the author." --The Scotsman, Edinburgh.

THE CRIMSON BOX

"A yarn that thriller-lovers will gobble up. The recipe for a perfect detective story is the ability to keep one guessing, a touch of American journalism, some humour as grim as possible, and rather more than a sprinkling of the tough guys of the Hollywood crime films. Harry S. Keeler gives us all these ingredients in 'The Crimson Box.'" --Daily Mail.

"A thriller which has one of the most unexpected and exciting conclusions imaginable. In a story of this nature Keeler is at his very best." --Cork Examiner.

 

 

The Crimson Box (Ward Lock, 1940): here's a menacing image for you!

Color image needed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wooden Spectacles (Ward Lock, 1941): they're spectacles; they're wooden; and through them we see the heroine and the villain. Courtesy of Dennis Duncan.

"Elsa Colby, a beginner at law, finds herself suddenly appointed to defend an alleged murderer who will not talk, and finds also that far more, from her point of view, hangs on his conviction or acquittal than the mere result of the trial. The final issue of the story is bewilderingly unexpected, as is the actual identity of Elsa's client. Readers of Keeler mysteries will find this fully up to standard, and will not be willing to put the book down until they have come to its final paragraph."

The back flap includes flattering quotations from reviews of Cleopatra's Tears and The Crimson Box.  

 

 

 

 

   

 

The Lavender Gripsack (Ward Lock, 1941): An excellent representation of the notorious gripsack itself, plus a guy with a machine gun on the spine. Art by Abbey. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"As Arthur Gilbert Foshart remarks to Elsa Colby, lone attorney for the defence, the State Attorney is working for big things. First, conviction of Elsa's client, John Doe. Second, conviction of a notorious, and as yet unconvicted, kidnapper and murderer. And last, but far from least -- nomination and re-election. Elsa's own fate and fortune, too, hang in the balance on the verdict, which seems a foregone conclusion. But the skull of Wah Lee and the Lavender Gripsack are vital factors in this amazing mystery, of which the writer of bedtime stories, Parks Wainwright, holds the key."  

 

 

 

 

The Peacock Fan (Ward Lock, 1942): This is a delicate, charming illustration. Courtesy of Eysteinn Björnsson.

"In the death cell, Gordon Highsmith, condemned of wife-murder, awaits his end. Even the greatest expert on United States Fedral Law cannot find a ray of hope. But Gordon's friend, 'Brother Boniface,' knows who killed Gordon's wife, and the fact that she ordered a 'Peacock Fan' just before she was murdered is the vital factor in this thrilling Keeler mystery story."

 

 

 

 

 

The Vanishing Gold Truck (Ward Lock, 1942): Whoosh goes the truck into the tunnel! This landmark novel incorporates Hazel's story "Spangles" and is the first of HSK's nine-volume circus series. Courtesy of Chris Mikul.

"Harry Stephen Keeler's many admirers - and they are legion both here and in the United States of America - have come to expect something distinctive and superlatively ingenious in the tangled web this clever author weaves in each new novel that comes from the Press in such regular intervals. It's a new Keeler! That is sufficient. There's bound to be something unusual and striking in each new mystery and its solution. Well, here's 'The Vanishing Gold Truck' and Harry Stephen Keeler's amazing solution of the extraordinary phenomena is just another illustration of the author's remarkable powers." (As Chris says: "Doesn't look like this fellow had actually read the book, does it?")  

 

The Book With the Orange Leaves (Ward Lock, 1943): The cover depicts the collection of Chinese epigrams known as The Way Out, which plays a role in a series of Keeler novels. The spine depicts a favorite HSK motif: a cracked safe.

"Keeler fans know what to expect! Each new novel that this extraordinary writer gives us presents some new baffling and astonishing problem. Here we have two such, skilfully interlocked--the case of the invisible egg, and the even more ingenious case of the safe-blower with X-ray eyes. But what can the Book with Orange Leaves have to do with such--a book of Chinese aphorisms thousands of years old? It takes a Keeler to elucidate such a web, and certain it is the author's many admirers will follow breathlessly and willingly."

The back cover shows a portrait of Keeler and a list of his titles, with the quote: "Mr. Keeler is infinitely plausible at infinite speed. He is a serious Wooster of the thrills." -- Daily Telegraph.

 

 

The Search for X-Y-Z (Ward Lock, 1943): A good cover featuring suitably goofy lettering.

"EZRA JENKIN'S [sic] desperate search in the colourful, bizarre metropolis of Wiscon City--the Little Berlin of America--for his vanished brother, with the extraordinary name, clashes and criss-crosses with the search of a Chicago gunman, 'The Farmer,' for a dope and white slave trafficker's agent who brought about the ruin and suicide of 'The Farmer's' sister; and involves Ezra in an amazing web of misunderstandings--a veritable comedy of errors which almost prove disastrous."

 

 

 

 

The Iron Ring (Ward Lock, 1944): A view from Margaret Annister's death cell. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"A tale of suspense. In the death cell sits Margaret Annister, condemned for a crime of which she is innocent, while her attorney and lover fight a seemingly hopeless battle to unravel the amazing web that has enmeshed her.

"As ingenious as anything Harry Stephen Keeler has written."

 

 

 

 

Two Strange Ladies (Ward Lock, 1945): This geometrical Deco design is a throwback to the twenties.

The blurb of this story set in the south is less than racially sensitive--but trust me, it's actually an anti-racist novel. "There's not a solitary clue to the identity of two elderly women--a tall, aristocratic-looking white woman and her short, black, nigger maid, both found murdered in Southern City. But it becomes vital to Tommy Skirmont, reporter on the Democrat, to solve the problem, if he's ever going to marry that wonderful girl of his, Tennessee. Harry Stephen Keeler serves up for his admirers another ingenious problem, and not until they have delved into the pages of The Way Out, wherein figures all the wisdom of ancient China, are they able to solve this amazing mystery."

The back cover shows a portrait of Keeler and a list of his titles, and says: "No reader who knows this author's work would expect an ordinary story; he propounds the most amazing theories and brings to light the most extraordinary beliefs."

 

 

The 16 Beans (Ward Lock, 1945): An intricate Chinese design by J. F. Campbell incorporates a small swastika, for some reason! On the spine is a little bag carrying the label, "Beans to YOU sonnyboy, as per my will!"

"IT'S a New KEELER! Harry Stephen Keeler's many admirers-- and they are legion--both here and in the United States of America-- have come to expect something distinctive and superlatively ingenious in the tangled web this clever author weaves in each new novel. There is something unusual and striking about each new mystery and its solution, and the amazing explanation of the fifteen riddles contained in THE 16 BEANS is just one more illustration of Mr. Keeler's remarkable creative powers."

The back cover shows a portrait of Keeler and a list of his titles, with the quote: "Mr. Keeler is infinitely plausible at infinite speed. He is a serious Wooster of the thrills." -- Daily Telegraph.

 

 

Murder in the Mills (Ward Lock, 1946): A menacing dragon hovers over the steel mills. Very classy! Art by J. F. Campbell, who also did The 16 Beans.

"IT'S a New KEELER! This is the story of Kel Lauriston, American 'boomer' lineman, who, but for a thimbleful of old port wine, would have been the richest man in England. Because of his near-miss with gargantuan wealth, he wound up in an American steelmaking town, full of the strange characters associated with 'steel,' and thereby arose a mystery and many strange events. A typical Keeler with a twist and a turn at every stage."

The back cover shows a portrait of Keeler and a list of his titles, and says: "No reader who knows this author's work would expect an ordinary story; he propounds the most amazing theories and brings to light the most extraordinary beliefs."

 

 

The Monocled Monster (Ward Lock, 1947): A zinger of a dustjacket worthy of the pulpiest pulp fiction. Thanks to Eysteinn Björnsson for the image.

"Amnesia is a somewhat rare mental trouble - a black-out of one's past. Just imagine something hitting you on the head, and putting your brain in this condition for seven years - seven such momentous years as 1939 to 1946! Imagine, too, awakening to reality again in 1946, believing that you had only been hors de combat for three days. A shock! Yes! For although much has happened to the world during that period, startling changes might also have taken place in your own personal affairs. Are you not interested?"

Back cover blurb: "A native of Chicago, Harry Stephen Keeler has a soft spot for England, and nearly always contrives to bring some of the action of his novels to this country. He has an original and unique style of his own and claims to get inspiration for his plots wandering about Chicago -- hot-bed for gangsters in fact, as well as in fiction. Whatever the source of his inspiration, Harry Stephen Keeler has conceived some truly remarkable plots in the course of his long literary career."

 

 

By Third Degree (Ward Lock, 1948): Looks a little nervous, doesn't he?! Thanks to Eysteinn Björnsson for this one.

"About the story: Third degree! Dread words to the criminal, and at times equally so to the innocent. Here we have an original and characteristic Keeler mystery, in which a famous volume of ancient Chinese wisdom, the Sharkskin Book, supposed within its pages to hold the answer to every conceivable situation and problem of modern life, plays its elusive part."

 

 

 

The Murdered Mathematician (Ward Lock, 1949): Another beautifully eerie Ward Lock image. Courtesy of Gerry Kroll.

"Professor Feather had always maintained that the solution of certain types of crime could be solved by the application of mathematics. The Professor bequeaths his fortune to a pupil of his -- Quiribus Brown -- providing the latter solves a crime and proves his theory within a certain time. A suitable and preplexing case presenting itself, Quiribus, urged by the fortune in prospect, sets about its solution in accordance with the Professor's theories. A unique Keeler mystery is the outcome."  

 

 

 

 

The Ace of Spades Murder (Ward Lock, 1949): Our cowboy-booted hero, Bill Chattock, leaps past ... an ace of spades, of course. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"Melody, pretty little circus performer, had a dread secret in her life -- the fear of the fact that she could not prove her legitimacy. For this reason she was willing to sacrifice all the happiness that the devoted love of a circus confrere, Bill Chattock, offered to her, and throw herself away on a worthless swain who had similar doubts about his antecedents. But where does the Ace-of-Spades murder come in? And did Bill Chattock let Melody go? Through an intriguing trail of mystery and crime only can these questions be answered."

 

 

The Strange Will (Ward Lock, 1949): One of the most lurid Keeler covers graces one of Harry and Hazel's most obscure books. Thanks to William Poundstone for this image.

"About the story

"Another original and characteristic thriller from the pen of Harry Stephen Keeler, written this time in collaboration with his wife, Hazel.

"When Harry Keeler takes his fans to Chinatown, they know what to expect--a truly amazing mystery! The Strange Will more than fulfils expectations. From the first chapter wherein Farrel Ivins stands upon the gallows trap waiting execution for a crime of which he is innocent, until the final conditions of the astonishing will of old Poo Ping Fu are fulfilled and the execution sentence squashed, suspense is sustained. Keeler's admirers will follow breathlessly and willingly every twist and turn in the clash of the rival 'tongs', The Lean Grey Rats and The Sons of the Golden Moon."

 

 

The Steeltown Strangler (Ward Lock, 1950): Seth Hiatt is faced with a series of slanderous flyers. Colorful, dramatic jacket.

"At the Tippingdale Steel Mill mysterious and libellous posters about the President of the Company appear in places accessible only to the electrical staff. It is believed that the man responsible for these is Morgan Bransford, owner of a rival mill; but the man who carried out the work must be one of the twenty-four linesmen. Thus is suspicion engendered and with several mysterious deaths following, a typical pulsating Keeler mystery evolves, with a climax which is both dramatic and unexpected."

 

 

The Case of the Transposed Legs (Ward Lock, 1951): In this case, Ward Lock borrowed an idea from Phoenix, but improved on it by adding an excellent portrait of a cat. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"Here is another thrilling novel related by that ingenious mystery writer Harry Stephen Keeler in collaboration with his wife Hazel Goodwin. The story fairly bristles with excitement and suspense throughout.

"Why did the murderer of Nels Pederson amputate his legs and sew them back with silver wire, transposed?

"How was a book on cats the key to an escape from prison?

"Why was a literary manuscript sent to Rudolph Uberhulf, a convict who could scarcely read or write?

"These, and many similar problems make this an all-absorbing novel."

 

 

The Barking Clock (Ward Lock, 1951): Unlike its Phoenix counterpart, the clock on this book is a real woofer! Thanks to Eysteinn Björnsson for this wonderfully surreal image.

"About the story: Never was the Keelers' imaginative ingenuity more apparent than in this thrilling and exciting story of Joe the Duck, who is condemned to death after having been found guilty of murdering the State's Attorney, Ibstone. Circumstantial evidence is so complete and overwhelming against Joe, that his case is seemingly hopeless unless he can succeed in tracing the whereabouts of a crime analyst by the name of Tuttleton T. Trotter. And the Keelers are the very authors to make the most of such a fight for life with a desperate time factor in the background."

 

 

The Murder of London Lew (Ward Lock, 1952): Another good cover by J. F. Campbell. Looks like something from the X Files, doesn't it?

"The Young Man With Green Eyes is the solver of puzzles--jigsaw and crosswords. By a very peculiar combination of circumstances he finds this talent called upon to solve the murder of old, doddering one-legged London Lew who lost his head--literally--at Catfish Point on Mud River, three miles out of Swollen Creek, Arkansas. Involved in this intricate Keeler pattern are, among other things, one sack of old gold, a letter that took two years to be delivered, and old London Lew's black head."

 

 

 

Stand By--London Calling! (Ward Lock, 1953): The last Keeler novel ever published in English receives a handsome treatment. It seems that Ward Lock was willing to invest some money in dustjackets, even if they printed only a handful of copies of the book. Courtesy of Art Scott.

"To prove that his sister is not his sister takes Pell Barneyfield across America to learn the truth about a certain train smash in Jackson, a tattered document in an Estates Custodian's office, a London charwoman named Mary, and a birth-certificate carrying a certain and very crucial footprint. Dogging the story of Pell Barneyfield's love chase is the mystery of a diorama depicting the ceremony of the hanging of a stuffed fish, a $100,000 and one little girl, a slavey from New Orleans."

 

 

 


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