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Monday, February 25, 2008

Fury: Other listed copies




When I got my Magnum copy on 23 Feb 2008, I noted the cover was badly worn. I did some online checking, and it looks typical.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Frights


AFTERWORD
The tale of terror is one of the oldest forms of story telling, inherent to every human' culture. It has been with us from the, very beginning, whether in stories told around campfires - or represented in art, drama, and literature. Men who don't write books have always whispered over their night fires - or in broad daylight, for that matter of brushes with scary things. And men who have put their experiences of awe and fright in written form have done so from earliest times, from the Odyssey of Homer forward to the date you see on your daily newspaper. Many of the great literary figures have created works of terror and the supernatural: Shakespeare, Goethe, Poe, Balzac, Dickens, the Brontd sisters, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Maupassant, Kipling, Mann, to name only some. The appeal of "things that go bump in the night" is very basic everywhere. And now this form is perhaps the last strong outpost of Romantic expression in the arts.
And yet, for all that, particularly in America, there is a kind of stubborn, supercilious refusal in many quarters to recognize this kind of story as a literary form worthy of attention by serious, intelligent readers. The reasons for this are doubtless manyi but one is surely the tongue-in-cheek interest in bad horror movies and their overworked reliance upon familiar supernatural char- acters, Dracula and Frankenstein the two best known. All these stereotypes have their place, but how big a place is the question. Where the interest seems to be destructive is when the essential inspiration and attitude is irreverent or sadistic. Concerning the former, I am among those who believe that the magazine Unknown and magazines in its tradition failed because their predominate premise was too whimsical. Unknown did run a good many excellent stories, but also a good deal of "cute, clever, and amusing" material written by writers having a condescending self-indulgent kind of fun at the readers' expense. People do occasionally read humor in their supernatural tales and, indeed, there is an element of ironic humor near the heart of the good story of terror; but it must be carefully controlled or the reader is unlikely to engage in the sober kind of pondering necessary for maximum enjoyment of the strange story. The main- stay appeal is the cbill of probing the unknown, as the bestselling books in the genre testify. And the tale of the humorous macabre is usually most satisfying when written by those who have reverence and love for the non- humorous supernatural and who themselves write it well - a W. W. Jacobs, a Robert Bloch, or a Gahan Wilson. One knows in reading their funny supernaturals that it is an affectionate and respectful use of humor and, probably deep down, a usage that is made with an occasional look over the proverbial shoulder. Many of those attracted to the light and whimsical tradition have, I would suggest, weak credentials in the respect and reverence department - their true loves are elsewhere - and it shows.
The intrusion of the sadistic into the supernatural terror story is more serious and perennial. Any genre that frequently has to do with fear and death must naturally approach territory that is ripe for sadistic treatment. But not only is there a difference in treatment between the sadistic story and the true supernatural story, there is an equally great difference in inspiration and appeal, as Fritz Leiber ably points out in the introduction to this book. Tales of the supernatural appeal on many, levels, but none of them involve a f6cus on physical suffering and unpleasantness for its own sake.
Labels are always tricky. What does one call this rather broad but same-spirited form? I tend to prefer the term "terror" but it seems to me only one of several satisfactory ones. Many are turning away from the word "horror" but I like all the terms: stories of horror, wonder, terror, fantasy, the inexplicable, the supernatural, as long as the inspiration is not that of the diletante or the sadist. FRIGHTS is the title of this collection * because it seemed to me to convey a welcome to a broad variety of eerie and suspenseful stories. Additionally I aimed to collect stoires which are a bit different, that struck me as more than another vampire story or another deal-with-the-devil story; the somewhat off-trail modern tale of suspense and horror was my goal. And important I think all the stories in this book have never been published before. There are, I believe, some very vital and fine things being written today in this field, and there should be more places to showcase those new works. In a small way I hope this book enlarges that showcase.
Kirby McCauley
New York City
January 11, 1976

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Henry Kuttner Fury 1947

Fury, Henry Kuttner, 1947, Steert and Smith Publications, Inc. Originally published under the pseudonym of Lawrence O'Donnell. This book: Prestige Books, undated. Magnum # 75413.

Introduction C. L. Moore

This is ffie story behind the story of FURY. It's as good a way as any I can think of to write an introduction to the present edition.

Henry Kuttner and I made our living by writing. So of course FURY was written primarily for money. But since we deliberately chose this rather agonizing way of making a living, we must have got something more than money out of it, and of course we did.

There, is a wonderful point in many stories which comes after the characters and the general lines of action are set, when things begin to move by themselves. This is where the unconscious takes over. All the writer's submerged beliefs and fears and hopes come surging joyfully to the surface to take full charge, and the writer's only function is to type fast enough to keep up. This happy state unfortunately isn't common. But when it does come, there are few greater pleasures in life.

The reason, of course, it that (besides the necessary money) such stories bring their writers that glorious freefall sensation which is a kind of catharsis of the unconscious. Characters personifying one's deeply felt beliefs and values test them out in action in a fictional world. You don't know at the time what's happened. You just know you feel wonderful. Long afterward, rereading the work, you can see what lies just under the surface.

Yesterday I reread' FURY for the first time in many years, and I'm not surprised, but interested, to see in it the two recurring themes which emerge quite explicitly in nearly everything we wrote. Hank's basic statement was something like, "Authority is dangerous and I will never submit to it." Mine was, "The most treacherous thing in life is love." In FURY these two ideas underlie everything that happens. I can identify which parts I contributed and which he did by this alone.

FURY was written by about one and an eighth persons. We collaborated on almost everything we wrote, but in varying degrees. It worked like this. After we'd established through long discussion the basic ideas, the background and the characters, whichever of us felt like it sat down and started. When that one ran down, the other, being fresh to the story, could usually see what ought to come next, and took over. The action developed as we went along. We kept changing off like this until we finished. A story goes very fast that way.

Each of us edited the other's copy a little when we took over, often going back a line or two and rephrasing to make the styles blend. We never disagreed seriously over the work. The worst clashes of opinion I can remember ended with one of us saying, "Well, I don't agree, but since you feel more strongly than I do about it, go ahead." (When the rent is due tomorrow, one tends toward quick, peaceful settlements.)

In FURY, which is a good example of this process, I wrote comparatively little of the copy. The idea was basically Hank's and I didn't identify very strongly with it. I didn't identify with Sam Reed, the lead character. But what I did contribute I can recognize instantly, after all these years, by the passages in which color-images pre-dominate, and in which my dramatically gloomy theme appears.

Rereading the book now, I find I enjoy it very much. I can accept the theme of FURY. I can even accept Sam, feeling rather horrified at my own acceptance of what he acomplished. Given the basic premise of the story, he had to be what he was - utterly ruthless, terribly intelligent, terribly vulnerable, fighting every hour of his life by every savage form of trickery, betrayal, murder, to reach a goal he was never truly aware of.
The premise is that manidnd, having settled down in a luxurious Eden of the future, with no challenges left, would slowly strangle in its own inertia if, out of somewhere, a deliverer did not come with a flaming sword to drive them back to life.
In this case life is the almost intolerable condition on the continents of Venus, full of the fury of mindless animal and vegetable and insect life gone wild with growth and death. Even the soil and the air are alive with fierce bacterial forms in constant struggle for survival widl every other lifeorm on the planet.

How Sam fulfills this challenge, by the most complex methods, for the worst of motives, is the story of FURY,

I often think about that last line, too. And wonder.




From Jimster

Hi Gang, Tonight's fare is from across the pond - to a writer and anthologist who recently got a nice nod of recognition by the fine folks at Midnight House (A Haunting Beauty and The Harlem Horror). I hope to snag these one day, but A Haunting Beauty is already OP. Here's a blurb from the back of that one: In the 1960's one author was almost solely responsible for keeping the horror genre alive in Britain, Sir Charles Birkin. In the years from 1964 to 1971 the author produced a string of powerful collections including The Kiss of Death, Spawn of Satan, and The Smell of Evil.


AU CLAIR DE LUNE

Thelma was a nuisance, a most devastating bore,
Who tried to blackmail Rodney, the silly scheming whore.
Her Gallant pressed his light-o' love to picnic in a wood;
Left her there with rodents that were very short of food,
Trussed up like a mummy, all cocooned in rope and tape,
Defenceless as a dummy while he made good his escape.

Rats abounded in the thick scrub, weasels - errant mink -
After a few days slid by the corpse began to stink.
Her pillow was an, ants' nest beside a rush-fringed pond
Below a weeping willow of which she had grown fond.
Keen "undertaker" beetles dragged hard at her remains
Writhing maggots bored the skull, enjoying the lady's brains.
Soon death-caps flaunted leprous gills and pallid fleshy cones,
The loathsome toadstools flourishing, well nourished by her bones.
The girl, whose life had not been pure, quickly lost her fresh allure.
She found for death there was no cure - but made the highest class manure.

They never found her body, and Rodney's in the clear.
He told his wife about it - (sweet Ann was such a dear!)
Confessing his dark secret when he was very tight
His understanding spouse declared that he had been quite right
Rod picked and cooked the fungi one sparkling autumn day.

He made a stew, when Ann had 'flu. She swiftly passed away,
(Miss Tilly Davies he had met, an hieress and a little pet,
Who was by far his best yet, and on a marriage set.)
His new life was perfection - apart from her gross greed.
She'd spoon each rich confection far more than she had need.
Her appetite was shocking, creamed mushrooms she adored.
Sly Rodney's smile was mocking as she guzzled at his board,
A visit to the shallow grave when the moon rides
Should fix his mate. (Kismet! Just fate! And surely worth a try?)
A millionaire that boy will be, gay and healthy, young and free,
And all of it due, between you and me, to the carrion's slime neath the mourning tree.

(From: The Eleventh Book of Pan Horror Stories)

More Stories My Mother Never Told Me (March 1977)


Alfred Hitchcock Presnts: More Stories My Mother Never Told Me (March 1977), Dell, 0-440-15816-8, $1.25

INTRODUCTION
Unless you began this book at the back and have been reading your way forward, you have doubtless perceived that it is entitled More Stories My Mother Never Told Me. Permit me to observe that this is an absolutely accurate description of the contents. I am prepared to testify in any court of the land that none of these stories was ever recounted to me in any form by my mother.
The reason for this is quite simple. None of them had been written at the time when my mother was telling stories to me.
Still, I do not think that my mother would have told me any of the tales I have gathered here, even if they had been available to her. And I do not recommend that you pass them indiscriminately along to your own younger offspring. They are stories for the developed taste, one that has left behind it the delights of the blunt instrument, the scream in the night, the poison in the decanter of port.
I believe it has become public knowledge that I am addicted to tales that brush the emotions of the reader with a touch of terror, pluck at his sensitivities with a haunting horror, or set his pulse pounding with suspense. I have gone so far as to issue volumes of stories in which I have grouped narratives that seemed to me to distill these emotions in their finest essence.
But in this book I shall not presume to suggest what reactions these stories should call forth from you, the reader. Nor, despite great temptation, will I call your attention to any specific tales. These stories should be approached without forewarning or preconception. Only in that way may their fullest impact be received by sensitive nervous systems.
The one thing that I can promise is that you are in for a full gamut of emotional reactions - barring, of course, the tender sentiments, with which I will have no truck. I have even included a tale or two primarily for entertainment. But do not look upon this as a sign of weakness. Even in these tales there are underlying frissons to give a curious relish to the reading. And there are other stories which I consider well-nigh diabolical. Furthermore-
But someone has said that the best introduction is the shortest introduction.
Onward, then!
ALFRED J. MTCHCOCK
***

CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION Alfred Hitchcock 9
THE WIND Ray Bradbury 11
CONGO Stuart Cloete 21
DIP IN THE POOL Roald Dahl 30
I DO NOT HEAR YOU, SIR Avram Davidson 42
THE ARBUTUS COLLAR Jeremiah Digges 52
THE MAN WHO WAS EVERYWHERE Edward D. Hoch 62
COURTESY OF THE ROAD Mack Morriss 66
REMAINS TO BE SEEN Jack Ritchie 70
THE MAN WHO SOLD ROPE TO THE GNOLES Idris Seabright 80
LOST DOG Henry Slesar 85
SLIME Joseph Payne Brennan 94
HOW LOVE CAME TO PROFESSOR GUILDEA Robert Hichens 120
NATURAL SELECTION Gilbert Thomas 167
SIMONE Joan Vatsek 176
***

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
"The Wind," Ray Bradbury. Reprinted by permission of Har- old Matson Company, Inc. Copyright 1943 by Ray Bradbury. Copyright renewed by the author.
"Congo," Stuart Cloete. Reprinted by permission of Story magazine. Copyright 1943 by Story Magazine, Inc.
'Dip in the Pool," Roald Dahl. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., from Someone Like You by Roald Dahl. Copyright 1952 by Roald Dahl.
"I Do Not Hear You, Sir," Avram Davidson. Reprinted by permission of Kirby McCauley, Literary Agent. Copyright 1957 by Mercury Press, Inc.
"The Arbutus Collar," Jeremiah Digges. Reprinted by permission of Story magazine. Copyright 1936 by Story Magazine, Inc.
"The Man Who Was Everywhere," Edward D. Hoch. Reprinted by permission of the author. Originally appeared in Manhunt magazine. Copyright 1957 by Flying Eagle Publications, Inc.
"Courtesy of the Road," Mack Morriss. Reprinted by permission of William Morris Agency, Inc. Originally appeared in Collier's magazine. Copyright 1949 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.
"Remains To Be Seen," Jack Ritchie. Reprinted by permission of the author and Larry Stemig, Agent, and the copyright owner. Originally appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Copyright 1961 by H.S.D. Publications, Inc.
"The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles," Idris Seabright. Reprinted by permission of McIntosh and Otis, Inc. Originally ap- peared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Copyright 1951 by Mercury Press,.Inc.
"Lost Dog," Henry Slesar. Reprinted by permission of Theron Raines, Agent. Originally appeared in Michael Shaynes Mystery Magazine. Copyright 1957 by Henry Slesar.
"Slime," Joseph Payne Brennan. Reprinted by permission
the author and his agents, Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022. Re- printed from Nine Horrors and a.Dream, published by Arkham House. Copyright 1958 by Joseph Payne Brennan.
"How Love Came to Professor Guildea," Robert Hichens. Reprinted from Tongues of Conscience, by Robert Hichens. Reprinted by permission of the owner of the copyright, per A.P. Watt & Son, Hastings House, London, England. Copyright by Robert Hichens.
"Natural Selection," Gilbert Thomas. Reprinted by permission of the author. Originally appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Copyright 1950 by The American Mercury, Inc. (now Davis Publications, Inc.).
"Simone," Joan Vatsek. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Originally appeared in Today's Woman. Copyright 1949 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

Friday, February 22, 2008

1897 War of the Worlds



the May thru October of 1897 issues of The Cosmopolitan Magazine, Volume XXIII, where H. G. Wells first published his War of the Worlds - fully illustrated.

The Strand






The Strand Magazine was a monthly fiction magazine founded by George Newnes. It was published in the United Kingdom from January 1891 to March 1950, though the first issue was on sale well before Christmas 1890. Its immediate popularity is evidenced by an initial sale of nearly 300,000. Sales increased in the early months, before settling down to a circulation of almost 500,000 copies a month which lasted well into the 1930s. It was edited by Herbert Greenhough Smith from 1891 to 1930.
The Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle were first published in The Strand with illustrations by Sidney Paget. With the serialization of Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, sales reached their peak. Readers lined up outside the magazine's offices, waiting to get the next instalment. The A. J. Raffles, a "gentleman thief", stories of Ernest William Hornung first appeared in The Strand in the 1890s. Other contributors included Grant Allen, Margery Allingham, H.G. Wells, E.C. Bentley, Agatha Christie, E. Nesbit, W.W. Jacobs, Rudyard Kipling, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georges Simenon, Edgar Wallace, P. G. Wodehouse, and even Winston Churchill. Once a sketch drawn by Queen Victoria of one of her children appeared with her permission.
In addition to the many fiction pieces and illustrations, The Strand was also known for some time as the source of ground-breaking brain teasers, under a column called Perplexities, first written by Henry Dudeney. Dudeney introduced many new concepts to the puzzle world, including the first known crossnumber puzzle, in 1926. In that same year, Dudeney produced an article, "The Psychology of Puzzle Crazes," reflecting and analyzing the demand for such works. He edited Perplexities from 1910 until he died in 1930. G.H. Savage became the column's editor, soon to be joined by William Thomas Williams (as W.T. Williams), who, in 1935 authored the best-known crossnumber puzzle of today. The puzzle goes by many names, the original being, The Little Pigley Farm. It has also been known as Dog's Mead, Little Pigley, Little Piggly Farm, Little Pigsby, Pilgrims’ Plot, and Dog Days.
The Strand Magazine eventually ceased publication in 1950, forced out of the market by a falling circulation and rising costs, its last editor being Macdonald Hastings, distinguished war correspondent and later TV reporter and contributor to the Eagle boys' comic.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturn Image



I knew I recognized that "Saturn".
It is an image taken and credited to both Mt Wilson and Palamar Observatory.

Sam Mokowitz



Saturday, February 16, 2008

Historic de Camp letters surface




Also included in this archive is a photocopy of a five-page letter de Camp wrote to Carter about Conan in 1975, a photocopy of a 1976 two-page Typed Letter from de Camp to Kirby McCauley, long-time editor and literary agent, and the third page of an unidentified Typed Letter signed in print "LSdeC". L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter collaborated on a number of Conan novels and story collections published between 1967 and 2004, the last few of which are omnibus collections of their previously published works. Chronologically, this amazing archive begins with a postcard from de Camp to Carter dated April 28, 1964. In this short message, de Camp thanks Carter "for the kind remarks. It's the first time anybody called me Author of the Year in any connection." The correspondence continues throughout the next fifteen years, with voluminous mentions of their collaboration on the many Conan novels and stories the two co-wrote. In a two-page TLS dated June 8, 1968, de Camp advises Carter on editorial suggestions for the story "Black Tears" from their collaborative Conan story collection Conan the Wanderer. In a May 26, 1970 two-page TLS, de Camp writes Carter about their "second draft of the next instalment [sic] of Conan the Buccaneer. De Camp encourages Carter that they should "pour on a little more coal. The thing is three months overdue; and, while nothing dreadful is likely to come of this, I hate not doing what I say I shall. Besides, the vogue won't last forever."The archive continues in a like manner, with letters chock full of editorial instructions from de Camp to Carter on their various Conan collaborations, as well as some letters and postcards unrelated to Conan, but nonetheless fascinating for their content, revealing details from inside the professional lives of actively publishing science fiction and fantasy authors. In a one-page TLS from November 1977, de Camp even offers for sale to Carter "a set of twenty-four (24) post cards written from 1930 to 1935 by H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard." Such an offer must have involved much friendly but heated negotiation between two such fanatical followers of Howard and his chief literary creation.

Above is a reproduction of a hand drawn map by Lovecraft's hand. -CP.
The seller of this item states: HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT & SEX OR:THE SEX LIFE OF A GENTLEMANTHE OUTSIDER edited by R. Alain Everts
This eight-page paper was prepared for the 2nd mailing of that group of HPL acolytes that call themselves "The Esoteric Order of Dagon" or simply "EOD". Despite some personal rants & raves (isn't that what Fandom is for!?) the editor did indeed present a most noteworthy mailing for the "EOD" here. The two-page headlines discussed by the editor with Sonia Haft Greene Lovecraft Davis during his visits with her, do open a window into HPL's most private life .
I won't spill any of the beans but suffice to say that you will be - if not surprised, at least more informed! In addition the cover depicts HPL's own drawing of his beloved "Providence" and there is another reproduction of HPL's holograph in a letter printed to an amateur regarding voting for the Amateurs, circa 1916.
William Hope Hodgson is present with poetry and a rebuttal of Sam Moskowitz's biographical facts about WHH's life by editor Everts. Additionally there is poetry by another of the California Romantics & a contemporary of Clark Ashton Smith, Nora May French, who took her own life at age twenty-six. A scant eight-page publication but loaded with many many more pages of relevance!
The seller estimates the production of this circular: "does twenty-five copies sound about right for this early paper?"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Murray Leinster

Murray Leinster [pseudonym of Will F. Jenkins]. Planet of Dread Corrected Typescript. 73 pages, 8.5" x 11", ribbon copy on plain paper, with holographic corrections in pencil.
Leinster has made a significant number of editorial instructions and corrections on this typescript, even changing the title of the novella from Nightmare Planet to Planet of Dread. He even crosses out the previous title on the original envelope, included with the typescript. Also accompanying the typescript is a small rectangular piece of paper upon which Leinster has evidently typed an advertisement blurb. All pages show moderate toning, with minor edge wear to a few pages. Page 73 shows noticeable edge wear, with a 1" open tear to the left edge and a 1" closed tear to the right edge. Overall, the typescript is in near fine condition, and a welcome addition to any library of classic science fiction, and especially desirable to science fiction magazine collector.

Planet of Dread was first published in the May 1962 issue of Fantastic, and later collected in The Most Thrilling Science Fiction Stories Ever Told #10, Fall 1968. From the Robert and Diane Yaspan Collection.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Rolling Gravestones (Dell 1971)




INTRODUCTION


Although five years have passed since I last visited Philadelphia, I find myself frequently thinking about the city of brotherly love. Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross's little house all hold proud meaning in our lives.

A recent news item about a deranged ornithologist who'd been arrested while attempting to strike the Liberty Bell with a rubber mallet brings Philadelphia to mind at this time. Needless to say, security guards pounced upon him before he could deliver the blow and the culprit was immediately led off to jail.

This unimportant event instantly recalled the time I'd spent there. The memory is vivid. It was a fine autumnal morning. I had just breakfasted at my hotel and I was walking toward a nearby university where I had been invited by the university's president to deliver and address upon the various types of criminals that I have known and studied. At any rate I hadn't walked more than two blocks when I detected that I was being followed by a beautiful young brunette. My first impression was that she was merely going in the same direction where I was heading. This soon proved erroneous for when I deliberately stopped to gaze at a store window she kept her distance and only resumed walking after I had started again.

It amused me at first, then after I had walked about half a mile my curiosity came to the fore and without further ado I made an about face and confronted her. Her frightened face told me that something was definitely wrong and in an attempt to put her at ease I said, "Miss, is there something amiss?" At the time I was certain that this sparkling witticism, would do the trick. Imagine my astonishment, if you win, when her face contorted and she burst into tears.

Momentarily, I was taken aback at this emotional display, but my recovery was quick. "Why are you crying?" I said. "What's the matter?"

Her reply was a series of incomprehensible blubbering sounds, which drew an immediate crowd, including an uncouth type in a plaid, shirt who said to her, "Girlie, is this character bothering you? If he is, just give me the word and I'll flatten him."

Luckily for him, she replied, "I'm quite all right," just as I was about to strike him with a punishing karate chop for his unwelcome intrusion.

After he and the crowd had disbursed I led the distraught young woman into a coffee shop. We sat in a booth and I said, "Now, what's this all about?"

She hesitated. "I'm in terrible trouble. I've been following you trying to get up my nerve."
I waited without comment so she could tell me in her own time.

She spoke in a small voice and it took her ten minutes to tell me what was at the root of her problem. She had been married three weeks ago. While honey-mooning in Mexico she and her husband Richard had been kidnapped by bandits. They had held them both, then she had been released for the purpose of returning to the United States to obtain the ransom money in exchange for her husband's release.

What it all boiled down to was that the bandits had insisted that I act as an intermediary to deliver twenty thousand dollars to them in exchange for her husband's life. Jo Ann added that any attempt, to bring in the police would result in her husband's immediate demise.

It was an opinion with which I concurred. Unfortunately, there were a few unanswered questions about the whole business that stirred uneasy feelings for me.

To begin with I believed that Mexican bandits were something out of the past, and if they did exist, why had they selected me to bring the ransom money instead of merely having Jo Ann bring it to them? I considered the possibility that I might be held captive. I even considered the possibility that her story might be part of a ruse designed to place me in a position where I myself might be kidnapped.

Jo Ann explained it all. The kidnappers had chosen me to bring the ransom money because of my reputation as an expert in the field of crime who would definitely realize that going to the police would jeopardize her husband's life. Jo Ann on the other hand would also realize the situation for what it was, but they were apprehensive that she might unwittingly create problems, whereas if I handled the matter things would proceed smoothly. She dug in her purse and produced an envelope stuffed with bills which she handed to me. I accepted with some doubt and misgivings.

I canceled my lecture at the university and we departed via the next flight to Brownsville, Texas, where it was prearranged that we would cross over into Mexico.
The custom guards who recognized me on both sides of the border waved me right through without even bothering to inspect our luggage.

We followed the kidnappers' instructions. We rented a car and drove southward on a major highway, leaving it for a lonely road after about ten miles. On a desolate stretch of road, I stopped and deposited the envelope containing the money under a large rock marked with a red X. I found a note instructing us to proceed to an abandoned shack about four miles down the road. A second note pinned to the door of the shack advised us to return from whence we had just come. Trickery upon trickery. I drove back at breakneck speed. Approaching the marked rock I found her husband.
Jo Ann and Richard embraced amidst tears and laughter. Then I shook his hand. He explained that he and the kidnappers had actually seen us drop the ransom off. They had sent us off on a wild goose chase to the shack to gain time to make their getaway in a small helicopter. We left.
The only holdup we had occurred at the border. I told Jo Ann and Richard that I had to call the university to inform them that I was returning for my speaking engagement.

And once again the border guards recognized me and waved us through. At the airport for my flight Jo Ann and Richard thanked me profusely and said good-bye.

Unfortunately for them they were arrested before they got to their car. I had called the police and alerted them rather than the university as Jo Ann and Richard believed. The police found a large quantity of diamonds in Richard's money belt.

One of the arresting officers wanted to know how I had known that the kidnapping story was false. I explained that I hadn't fully believed the girl's story and that I had sprinkled nondectable Cavendish powder on the envelope containing the ransom money and a smear of Bilgar's salve on the palm of my right hand. When I shook Richard's hand there was a slight electrical reaction set up by the powder and the salve. I felt a tiny tingle and I knew at once that he had retrieved the ransom envelope hunself. I realized that the kidnapping story was an elaborate hoax neatly designed to conceal another form of skullduggery, which in this case turned out to be diamond smuggling.

The lengths criminals will go to in their efforts to turn a shady buck is amazing, but I can assure you that even greater effort has gone into the discriminating selection of the stories that follow.


Alfred Hitchcock

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