The Silent Bullet


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America’s Sherlock Holmes makes histhrilling debutin this classic volume of mind-boggling mysteries

Craig Kennedy is a Columbia University chemistry professor by day and New York’s premier sleuth by night. With the help of his roommate and partner in detection, newspaper reporter Walter Jameson, Kennedy uses his mastery of technology to solve the most puzzling of mysteries. In “The Deadly Tube,” he investigates a case of murder by X-ray, and in “The Terror in the Air,” he applies the scientific method to a rash of airplane accidents blamed on gyroscopes.
First appearing in the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine, Craig Kennedy was one of the most popular detectives of the early twentieth century, and Arthur B. Reeve’s stories featuring the scientific sleuth were the first mysteries by an American author to gain wide readership in Great Britain.
This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.



Publié par
Date de parution 24 novembre 2015
Nombre de visites sur la page 2
EAN13 9781480442887
Langue English

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TheSilent Bullet
Krthur B. Reeve
When Sherlock Holmes took the world’s readership by storm in the 1890s, authors and publishers alike saw the potential for success with the creation of a series detective. Although a little late to the game, few authors were as popular as Arthur B. Reeve (1880– 1936) and his character, the scientific detective C raig Kennedy, who made his debut in The Silent Bulletand appeared in an additional twenty-three novels and short (1912) story collections. Born in Patchogue, New York, the son of Jeannie (He nderson) and Walter F. Reeve, he graduated from Princeton University in 1903 and wen t on to study law, which he never practiced, becoming a journalist instead. Reeve gre w interested in scientific crime detection when he wrote a series of articles on the subject, and he subsequently created Craig Kennedy, the most popular detective in Americ a for several years. Much of that vast popularity was due to silent film serials, als o written by Reeve, about a young heroine named Elaine who constantly finds herself i n the clutches of villains, only to be rescued at the last moment by the white-coated Kenn edy. Reeve’s stories were the first American mysteries t o gain wide readership in Great Britain. They are not read much today, for pseudosc ientific methods and devices that were of great interest then are all outdated—and ma ny of them never had a solid technical basis in the first place. Reeve’s major a chievement was his application of Freudian psychology to detection two decades before psychoanalysis gained substantial public acceptance. During World War I he was asked to help establish a spy and crime detection laboratory in Washington, DC. Reeve wrote only four mysteries not involving Kenne dy:Guy Garrick(1914),Constance Dunlap: Woman Detectiveshort stories), (1916; The Master Mystery (1919; a novel based on a motion picture serial starring Harry Hou dini; written with John W. Grey), and The Mystery Mind (1920; a novel based on a motion picture serial ab out hypnosis; also written with Grey).
One of the first popular scientific detectives in m ystery fiction was the American Craig Kennedy, preceded in England by R. Austin Freeman’s Dr. John Thorndyke. At the height of his fame, Kennedy was known as the “American She rlock Holmes.” Scientific “miracles” are commonplace in his cases; for example, such technical marvels as lie detectors, gyroscopes, and a portabl e seismograph that can differentiate between the footsteps of different individuals were all accurately predicted. Like Holmes, Kennedy is a chemist who uses his knowledge to solv e cases. He is also one of the first detectives to use psychoanalytic techniques. Kennedy is a professor at Columbia University who a lso works as a consulting detective. A man of action as well as thought, he i s a master of disguise and uses a gun when circumstances require it. Inspector Barney O’C onnor of the New York Police Department frequently asks for unofficial help from Kennedy. Walter Jameson, Kennedy’s roommate, is a newspaper reporter who chronicles hi s adventures and also tries to solve cases on his own, with a predictable lack of succes s.
Kennedy made his first film appearance in a 1915 Pa thé serial,The Exploits of Elaine. Although Elaine—portrayed by the popular Pearl Whit e—is the nominal central character, it is her friend Kennedy (Arnold Daly) who does bat tle against the mysterious Clutching Hand. Clutching Hand, seeking Elaine’s inheritance, is extraordinarily scientific himself, wielding death rays and creating poison-kiss epidem ics; in one episode, Kennedy brings a dead girl back to life with “Dr. Leduc’s method o f resuscitation,” a machine he wheels out of a corner of his well-equipped laboratory. Th ere were two sequels featuring both Elaine and Kennedy:The New Exploits of Elaineand (1915) The Romance of Elaine (1916). Kennedy uses the wireless and x-rays and is shot wi th phosgene bullets and trapped in a vacuum room in the 1919 fifteen-chapter serialThe Carter Case (subtitledThe Craig Kennedy Serial). Herbert Rawlinson played the detective. In 1926, Kennedy (Jack Mower) was a subordinate character in the ten-chapter seri alThe Radio Detective, coming to the aid of the hero (Jack Daugherty), an inventor and d evoted Boy Scout leader whose radio wave discovery is a gangster’s target. Kennedy reti red for ten years, emerging only when challenged by an old villain. The Clutching HandJack Mulhall,. Stage and Screen, 1936 (fifteen-chapter serial). Marion Shilling, Yakima Canutt, Ruth Mix, Mae Busch , Robert Frazier. Directed by Albert Herman. The director of a large industrial corporation anno unces the discovery of synthetic gold and is kidnapped by the unknown Hand. The hooded vi llain contacts his many (numbered) agents by way of television as he sits b efore multileveled monitors; the electronic and video tape gimmickry rampant through out the serial and upon which the solution depends is extraordinarily sophisticated for its day.
In the early days of television Donald Woods starre d inCraig Kennedy, Criminologist (1952), a series of twenty-six half-hour programs.
“IT HAS ALWAYS SEEMED strange to me that no one has ever endowed a profe ssorship in criminal science in any of our large universitie s.” Craig Kennedy laid down his evening paper and fille d his pipe with my toPacco. In college we had roomed together, had shared everythi ng, even poverty, and now that Craig was a professor of chemistry and I was on the staff of the Star, we had continued the arrangement. rosperity found us in a rather ne at Pachelor apartment on the Heights, not far from the niversity. “Why should there Pe a chair in criminal science?” I remarked argumentatively, settling Pack in my chair. “I’ve done my turn at police head quarters reporting, and I can tell you, Craig, it’s no place for a college professor. Crime is just crime. And as for dealing with it, the good detective is Porn and Pred to it. College professors for the sociology of the thing, yes; for the detection of it, give me a Byrnes.” “On the contrary,” replied Kennedy, his clean-cut f eatures Petraying an earnestness which I knew indicated that he was leading up to so mething important, “there is a distinct place for science in the detection of crime. On the Continent they are far in advance of us in that respect. We are mere children Peside a doze n crime-specialists in aris, whom I could name.” “Yes, Put where does the college professor come in? ” I asked, rather douPtfully. “You must rememPer, Walter,” he pursued, warming up to his suPject, “that it’s only within the last ten years or so that we have had th e really practical college professor who could do it. The silk-stockinged variety is out of date now. To-day it is the college professor who is the third arPitrator in laPour dis putes, who reforms our currency, who heads our tariff commissions, and conserves our far ms and forests. We have professors of everything—why not professors of crime?” Still, as I shook my head duPiously, he hurried on to clinch his point. “Colleges have gone a long way from the old ideal of pure culture. They have got down to solving the hard facts of life—pretty nearly all, except one. T hey still treat crime in the old way, study its statistics and pore over its causes and the the ories of how it can Pe prevented. But as for running the criminal himself down, scientifical ly, relentlessly—Pah! we haven’t made an inch of progress since the hammer and tongs meth od of your Byrnes.” “DouPtless you will write a thesis on this most int eresting suPject,” I suggested, “and let it go at that.” “No, I am serious,” he replied, determined for some reason or other to make a convert of me. “I mean exactly what I say. I am going to ap ply science to the detection of crime, the same sort of methods Py which you trace out the presence of a chemical, or run an unknown germ to earth. And Pefore I have gone far, I am going to enlist Walter Jameson as an aide. I think I shall need you in my Pusiness .” “How do I come in?” “Well, for one thing, you will get a scoop, a Peat, —whatever you call it in that newspaper jargon of yours.” I smiled in a skeptical way, such as newspapermen a re wont to affect toward a thing until it is done—after which we make a wild scramPle to exploit it. Nothing more on the suPject passed Petween us for s everal days.
I. The Silent Bullet
DETECTIVES IN FICTION NEARLY always make a great mistake,” said Kennedy one evening after our first conversation on crime and s cience. “They almost invariably antagonize the regular detective force. Now in real life that’s impossible—it’s fatal.” “Yes,” I agreed, looking up from reading an account of the failure of a large Wall Street brokerage house, Kerr Parker & Co., and the peculia r suicide of Kerr Parker. “Yes, it’s impossible, just as it is impossible for the regula r detectives to antagonize the newspapers. Scotland Yard found that out in the Crippen case.” “My idea of the thing, Jameson,” continued Kennedy, “is that the professor of criminal science ought to work with, not against, the regula r detectives. They’re all right. They’re indispensable, of course. Half the secret of succes s nowadays is organisation. The professor of criminal science should be merely what the professor in a technical school often is—a sort of consulting engineer. For instanc e, I believe that organisation plus science would go far toward clearing up that Wall S treet case I see you are reading.” I expressed some doubt as to whether the regular po lice were enlightened enough to take that view of it. “Some of them are,” he replied. “Yesterday the chie f of police in a Western city sent a man East to see me about the Price murder: you know the case?” Indeed I did. A wealthy banker of the town had been murdered on the road to the golf club, no one knew why or by whom. Every clue had pr oved fruitless, and the list of suspects was itself so long and so impossible as to seem most discouraging. “He sent me a piece of a torn handkerchief with a d eep blood-stain on it,” pursued Kennedy. “He said it clearly didn’t belong to the m urdered man, that it indicated that the murderer had himself been wounded in the tussle, bu t as yet it had proved utterly valueless as a clue. Would I see what I could make of it? “After his man had told me the story I had a feelin g that the murder was committed by either a Sicilian labourer on the links or a negro waiter at the club. Well, to make a short story shorter, I decided to test the blood-stain. P robably you didn’t know it, but the Carnegie Institution has just published a minute, c areful, and dry study of the blood of human beings and of animals. “In fact, they have been able to reclassify the who le animal kingdom on this basis, and have made some most surprising additions to our kno wledge of evolution. Now I don’t propose to bore you with the details of the tests, but one of the things they showed was that the blood of a certain branch of the human rac e gives a reaction much like the blood of a certain group of monkeys, the chimpanzees, whi le the blood of another branch gives a reaction like that of the gorilla. Of course ther e’s lots more to it, but this is all that need concern us now. “I tried the tests. The blood on the handkerchief c onformed strictly to the latter test. Now the gorilla was, of course, out of the question —this was no Rue Morgue murder. Therefore it was the negro waiter.” “But,” I interrupted, “the negro offered a perfect alibi at the start, and—” “No buts, Walter. Here’s a telegram I received at d inner: ‘Congratulations. Confronted Jackson your evidence as wired. Confessed.’” “Well, Craig, I take off my hat to you,” I exclaime d. “Next you’ll be solving this Kerr Parker case for sure.” “I would take a hand in it if they’d let me,” said he simply. That night, without saying anything, I sauntered do wn to the imposing new police
building amid the squalor of Center Street. They we re very busy at headquarters, but, having once had that assignment for the Star, I had no trouble in getting in. Inspector Barney O’Connor of the Central Office carefully shifted a cigar from corner to corner of his mouth as I poured forth my suggestion to him. “Well, Jameson,” he said at length, “do you think this professor fellow is the goods?” I didn’t mince matters in my opinion of Kennedy. I told him of the Price case and showed him a copy of the telegram. That settled it. “Can you bring him down here to-night?” he asked qu ickly. I reached for the telephone, found Craig in his lab oratory finally, and in less than an hour he was in the office. “This is a most bating case, Professor Kennedy, thi s case of Kerr Parker,” said the inspector, launching at once into his subject. “Her e is a broker heavily interested in Mexican rubber. It looks like a good thing—plantati ons right in the same territory as those of the Rubber Trust. Now in addition to that he is branching out into coastwise steamship lines; another man associated with him is heavily e ngaged in a railway scheme from the United States down into Mexico. Altogether the stea mships and railroads are tapping rubber, oil, copper, and I don’t know what other re gions. Here in New York they have been pyramiding stocks, borrowing money from two tr ust companies which they control. It’s a lovely scheme—you’ve read about it, I suppos e. Also you’ve read that it comes into competition with a certain group of capitalists who m we will call ‘the System.’ “Well, this depression in the market comes along. A t once rumours are spread about the weakness of the trust companies; runs start on both of them. The System,—you know them—make a great show of supporting the market. Ye t the runs continue. God knows whether they will spread or the trust companies sta nd up under it to-morrow after what happened to-day. It was a good thing the market was closed when it happened. “Kerr Parker was surrounded by a group of people wh o were in his schemes with him. They are holding a council of war in the directors’ room. Suddenly Parker rises, staggers toward the window, falls, and is dead before a doct or can get to him. Every effort is made to keep the thing quiet. It is given out that he co mmitted suicide. The papers don’t seem to accept the suicide theory, however. Neither do w e. The coroner, who is working with us, has kept his mouth shut so far, and will say no thing till the inquest. For, Professor Kennedy, my first man on the spot found that—Kerr P arker—was—murdered. “Now here comes the amazing part of the story. The doors to the offices on both sides were open at the time. There were lots of people in each office. There was the usual click of typewriters, and the buzz of the ticker, and the hum of conversation. We have any number of witnesses of the whole affair, but as far as any of them knows no shot was fired, no smoke was seen, no noise was heard, nor w as any weapon found. Yet here on my desk is a thirty-two-calibre bullet. The coroner ’s physician probed it out of Parker’s neck this afternoon and turned it over to us.” Kennedy reached for the bullet, and turned it thoug htfully in his fingers for a moment. One side of it had apparently struck a bone in the neck of the murdered man, and was flattened. The other side was still perfectly smoot h. With his inevitable magnifying-glass he scrutinised the bullet on every side. I watched his face anxiously, and I could see that he was very intent and very excited. “Extraordinary, most extraordinary,” he said to him self as he turned it over and over. “Where did you say this bullet struck?” “In the fleshy part of the neck, quite a little bac k of and below his ear and just above his collar. There wasn’t much bleeding. I think it must have struck the base of his brain.” “It didn’t strike his collar or hair?” “No,” replied the inspector. “Inspector, I think we shall be able to put our han ds on the murderer—I think we can get