John P. Marquand/Mr. Moto Crossword

You’ve had a couple of weeks to look at the blog about John P. Marquand and Mr. Moto. Now it’s time to test your knowledge. Check out the crossword puzzle below. Remember, most of the answers can be found in the blog. Solution will be posted in a couple of weeks.

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John P. Marquand’s Mr. Moto

What Pulitzer Prize winning author of satirical novels also created one of the most memorable spy detectives in both books and films? The answer is−John P. Marquand.

John P. Marquand won the Pulitzer Prize for The Late George Apley (1938). His title character, George Apley, is a Harvard-educated, white, Anglo-Saxon protestant living on Beacon Hill in downtown Boston. Beacon Hill is one of the oldest and wealthiest areas of Boston where the old money families live. It is located near the Massachusetts State House which sits prominently at the top of the hill, which gives us the term “Beacon Hill.” It was this world of wealth, privilege and power with its strict code for social behavior that Marquand was born into and later satirized.John_P._Marquand

Marquand’s Early Years

Marquand was descendant from several of the early governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His mother was the great niece of well-known feminist writer, Margaret Fuller, and a cousin of Buckminster Fuller. Aside from his prestige lineage, there was the family fortune made from shipping and merchandising.

However, during the crash of 1907 the family lost their money and suffered a financial downturn. Marquand was sent to live with two eccentric aunts in an old deteriorating mansion in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Unable to afford the tuition for an elite private school he attended the local public high school. He did go to Harvard by winning a scholarship for Chemistry.

At Harvard, he had wanted to write for the newspaper but was turned down. Instead he was elected to the editorial board of the humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon. After graduation, he finally worked for a newspaper when he was hired by the Boston Evening Transcript in 1915.

In 1922 he married Christina Sedgwick, niece of The Atlantic Monthly editor, Ellery Sedgwick. In 1925 Marquand published, Lord Timothy Dexter. This was considered an important book about the life of this Newburyport eccentric. His other well-known satirical novels include H. M. Pulham, Esquire (1941), B.F.’s Daughter (1946) and Sincerely, Willis Wade (1955).

By the mid-1930’s he was a prolific and successful writer and a regular contributor of fiction for slick magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. By the late 1930’s, Marquand, had created a series of novels about life in the upper-class.

Although he had been snubbed by his college roommates for his lack of wealth, he ultimately joined and embodied the lifestyle of the upper-class including owning luxury homes in Newburyport and the Caribbean. He was part of the very social scene that he often portrayed in a negative light. He was even linked to the Rockefeller family through his second wife, Adelaide Ferry Hooker, whose sister, Blanchette, was married to John D. Rockefeller III.

However, since this is a mystery blog, we think Marquand’s most important work was the creation of Japanese master spy and detective, Mr. Moto. Marquand achieved great popularity and commercial success with his spy novels about this fictional detective.

The Creation of Mr. Moto

Marquand was asked by The Saturday Evening Post to write a series of stories featuring an Asian character. In fact, the magazine sent him on a trip to Asia to do research. The magazine was attempting to fill the void created by the death of Erle Derr Biggers, the creator of Charlie Chan.

His first Moto story appeared in the magazine under the title, No Hero but later when published as a novel it was changed to, Your Turn, Mr. Moto.

Marquand wrote six Moto novels between 1935 and 1957.  All six novels were serialized first as magazine stories in The Saturday Evening Post except for Last Laugh, Mr. Moto which was serialized in Collier’s Weekly.

Marquand’s Moto novels were adapted into 23 radio shows starring James Monk. The first radio show was called A Force Called X07 (May,1951) and ended with The Dry Martini (October, 1951). Eight motion pictures were developed by Twentieth Century Fox starring Peter Lorre and Henry Silva starred in a 1965 film, The Return of Mr. Moto. In 2003 Moonstone Books published a graphic novel called Welcome Back, Mr. Moto.

Who Is Mr. Moto

When Mr. I.A. Moto is introduced to us, he appears as an eccentric Japanese aristocrat. In Think fast, Mr. Moto, Moto is described as a small man, delicate, almost fragile. book moto

He was dressed formally in morning coat and striped trousers. His black hair was carefully brushed in the Prussian style. He was smiling, showing a row of shiny gold-filled teeth, and as he smiled he drew in his breath with a polite, soft sibilant sound.

The focus of the novels is on westerners who experience problems involving some international intrigue. They are written from the westerner’s point of view. Mr. Moto is an international spy that operates behind the scene and enters into their lives to help them find a solution to their problem and extract them from danger.

In Think Fast, Mr. Moto he mentions other skills that he possesses:

Yes, I can do many things. I can mix drinks and wait on tables, and I am a very good valet. I can navigate and manage small boats. I have studied at two foreign universities. I also know carpentry and surveying and five Chinese dialects. So very many things come in useful.

Later in Mr. Moto Is So Sorry, we learn that one of the foreign universities he attended is American where he was a student of Anthropology. Later in the film versions of Mr. Moto, we will discover he has added several more skills to his list.

Plots of the Novels

In all the novels, Moto is a shadowy figure that seems to have numerous contacts in the Orient underworld that he manipulates to achieve his desired results.  Let’s take a look at the first Mr. Moto book.

In Your Turn, Mr. Moto, Flying Ace Lee Casey finds himself stranded in Tokyo when his transpacific pilot job for a tobacco company is cancelled. Low on funds Casey accepts a lucrative job offer from Mr. Moto and finds himself on a ship bound for Shanghai. His fellow passenger and female lead in this story is Sonya, a White Russian, who also seems to be assisting Mr. Moto. When a Chinese man turns up dead in Casey’s cabin, the trio is caught in a game of danger that could affect all of their countries.  Your Turn Mr. Moto

In the final novel, The Last of Mr. Moto (Stopover Tokyo-magazine title) is set in the 1950’s. Mr. Moto is now an intelligent officer for the pro-western Japanese government.

Jack Rhyce, a former paratrooper from World War II, has changed careers to becomes a secret agent in the early years of the Cold War. Rhyce and fellow spy Ruth Bogart have been dispatched to Tokyo to foil an assassination attempt. However, while the team is working to stop a murder they must also deal with an additional problem. Japan is now forming close ties with America and a communist ring is stirring up anti-American sentiment.

Jack and Ruth are pretending to be representatives of the Asia Friendship League and are met by Mr. Moto at the airport. Mr. Moto is undercover as a would-be tour guide who offers to make their stay more pleasant.

The American spies immediately suspect that there’s more to Mr. Moto than what appears. They need to stop the sinister plot and discover if the mysterious Mr. Moto will be their ally, or their enemy.

Both of these examples are representative of the plots in the novels. A westerner is in peril in the world of spies and deadly plots. The constant danger is offset with a romance between the male hero and the female lead.

The characters may not always understand the motives of Mr. Moto but he is ultimately there to help them. There’s also a sense that the people he is helping are talented individuals who emerge as a new form of hero. Moto recognizes this when he says:

“Undercover work is always like that,” …the people one encounters are much the same. They may be shady and raffish, but don’t forget they’re all of them brave. They do their work like a piece on a chess board and nothing stops them from moving along the diagonal. … they’re working for their respective countries and that’s more than a lot of people do.”

Mr. Moto Films

During one of the winter months this year, there was a very snowy day. This is the kind of day where you don’t want to leave the house and curling up with a good book is the perfect solution.

On this day, instead of opting for a good mystery book, I decided to do my own film fest. I had just received the collection of Mr. Moto movies. These are the eight movies from 20th Century Fox filmed between 1937 and 1939 featuring Peter Lorrie. I started with the first film, Think Fast, Mr. Moto. Think Fast Mr. Moto

Unlike the novels, there are several differences with the Mr. Moto in the films. Mr. I.A. Moto of the novels now has the first name of Kentaro. Mr. Moto is no longer the shadowy figure behind the scenes, but the focus of the films with the westerner playing a subordinate role. Occasionally he may be the seen in a tuxedo, but he does not wear formal morning attire as his normal dress and there is no signs of a gold tooth.

And perhaps based on the athleticism of Lorre we are aware that Moto is both an expert in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo and capable of circus like feats. He is a master of disguises and is also a skilled magician. For his personal enjoyment, he composes a form of poetry known as Haiku and draws caricatures.

The film plots are loosely based on the original stories but always involve spies and expose Mr. Moto to danger from some foreign government or group. And there is still the westerner who needs help in saving the secret plans, protecting their country or finding the hidden treasure. With the help of Mr. Moto, the problem is solved and for just a little while life returns to normal, until the next Moto film.

Mr. Moto Continues to be a Good Story

Mr. Moto was a good solid replacement for the Charlie Chan stories. I recommend on snowy days or on any day for that matter, to treat yourself to the detective stories of John P. Marquand’s, Mr. Moto. They are full of intrigue, spies, romance and plots that keeps the reader entertained.

 

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Erle Stanley Gardner Book Titles #2-Solution

Hope you found all the Perry Mason titles. Just in case you didn’t, here is the solution. I also hoped you enjoyed our posts about Erle Stanley Gardner.

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Erle Stanley Gardner Titles #2 Word Search

I’m going to finish our current set of blogs about Erle Stanley Gardner with a second word search puzzle of Perry Mason titles. Gardner was such a prolific writer that I couldn’t fit all the titles in just one word search. And these are just the Perry Mason titles. Who knows maybe I’ll have a word search of Cool and Lam titles at a later date. As always, find the words in the list of titles that are capitalized.

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Erle Stanley Gardner Crossword- Solution

There were a couple of tough questions in this puzzle, so I understand if you need to check your answers. I also know you are a mystery puzzle expert so I’m sure you did a great job!

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Erle Stanley Gardner Crossword Puzzle

If you’re searching for an answer, be sure to read the previous blog about Erle Stanley Gardner. You’ll find the answers for this crossword puzzle within that blog. Solution will be posted in a couple of weeks.

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Erle Stanley Gardner

Mention the name of actor, Raymond Burr and most people will immediately respond− “Perry Mason.” Burr made his acting mark playing this television lawyer.  But ask this same audience the name of the writer of the Perry Mason stories and many people will struggle to remember −Erle Stanley Gardner.

Erle Stanley Gardner

Gardner is the prolific writer who created over eighty Mason stories along with two other lesser known mystery series Cool and Lam and Doug Selby and numerous other works.

Gardner’s Legal Background

Gardner attended law school in Indiana but only lasted about a month. He had an interest in boxing which included organizing illegal boxing matches. This endeavor resulted in his suspension from school.

He came home to California where he secured a job as a typist at a law firm. Without any formal schooling, but with the knowledge he learned at the law firm and self-study he passed the bar in 1911. He opened a law office in 1917, but soon closed it for a better paying sales job. By 1921 he returned to the practice of law and was a partner at the firm of Sheridan, Orr, Drapeau and Gardner where he remained until 1933.

As a lawyer, Gardner preferred case strategy and courtroom tactics and was bored by other elements of law. His preference for strategy and tactics are clearly found in his stories.

Gardner’s and Pulp Magazines

The existence of Pulp Magazines helped launch many a Golden Age mystery author and Erle Stanley Gardner was no exception. He produced hundreds of stories for the pulps. Long before the Perry Mason stories became popular Erle Stanley Gardner was considered the “King of the Pulps.”

As the Mason novels became more popular Gardner reduced his contributions to these magazines. Of course, by the 1950’s the pulps were also on their way out.

Gardner’s Perry Mason

The Perry Mason stories are the largest body of work that Gardner produced. And the Mason books rank third in the top ten list of best-selling series.

As a young boy in Massachusetts Gardner read a magazine called the “Youth’s Companion” which was published in Boston by the Perry Mason Company. It was from this company that Gardner took the name for his Perry Mason character.

Gardner’s Perry Mason Stories

The Mason stories tend to follow a set formula with a wrongly accused client seeking Mason’s help. Then Mason and Drake investigate.  The guilty party is usually revealed during the preliminary court proceedings. In addition, other crimes like blackmail, embezzlement, missing persons and fraud are often discovered along with the solution for the current murder.

Although most of us probably picture someone who looks like Raymond Burr when we think of Perry Mason, very few descriptive details are presented in the stories. He leaves the true description of Mason to the reader’s imagination. We also know very little about Mason’s private life. He lives alone in an apartment and his only romantic interest seems to be Della, although this relationship is never fulfilled. We actually know more about Mason’s food likes because many scenes take place in restaurants.

Mason is also a very good detective. In The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat, District Attorney Hamilton Burger says “You’re a better detective than you are a lawyer.” It’s not enough for Mason to simply get his client off.  He needs to solve the crime.

Perry Mason−Early Films

In the 30’s Warner Brothers purchased the film rights for several of the Mason novels. However, Gardner was not thrilled with the results. In one film the emphasis was on Mason as a Latin lover. In another, film he marries Della Street. In all the films, Mason acted as a lighthearted detective solving the crime with no courtroom trials. Some of the actors portraying Mason in these films were Warren William, Ricardo Cortez, and Donald Woods. These films were purely entertainment without emphasis on the legal element.

Perry Mason Radio

Even though his experience with Perry Mason movies was not a positive one, Gardner decided to put Mason on the radio. The Perry Mason shows were developed as part of detergent giant Proctor and Gamble’s afternoon soap operas or as they became known − “The Soaps.” These shows were extremely popular and built a large audience.

Perry Mason Television

By the time audiences were switching from radio to television, Perry Mason was at the top of the radio ratings.

CBS approached Gardner about turning Perry Mason into an afternoon soap opera for television. Gardner refused, but CBS did create the long running soap, The Edge of Night starring John Larkin. Larkin had been the voice of Perry Mason on the radio and later had guest appearances on the Mason television series.

In 1957, CBS again approached Gardner for a television show featuring Perry Mason. Gardner along with actress Gail Patrick (Jackson) and her husband, Thomas Jackson (Gardner’s literary agent) formed a production company. This provided Gardner with the creative control he wanted.  Burr as Mason

Canadian actor, Raymond Burr, was chosen for the starring role. Burr had originally auditioned for the role of Hamilton Burger. However, once Gardner saw Burr he said Burr was the character he had in mind when he created Mason. Paul Drake was played by William Hopper, the son of Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Della Street was played by Barbara Hale who also appeared in several Falcon
movies. And many future stars had early appearances on the series including Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman, Leonard Nimoy, Dick Clark, Angie Dickinson and even the genie herself, Barbara Eden. In the final episode of this series, The Case of the Final Fade-Out, even Gardner had a cameo appearance as the judge

[Note: Barbara Hale was the last remaining star from the original series and just passed away in January (2017) at the age of 94.]

Perry Mason Continues

For one season from 1973-1974 a second television series was produced featuring Monte Markham as Mason. Then in 1985, thirty new episodes were created. The series once again featured Raymond Burr as Mason with Barbara Hale as Della Street and ran until 1995. Barbara Hale’s son, William Katt played Paul Drake. For new generations of viewing audiences, the original and the later series featuring Burr can still be seen on television. And HBO recently announced the possibility of a new series featuring Robert Downey Jr. So, stay tuned for more Perry Mason.

Other Gardner Crime Series

Gardner’s Doug Selby

Doug Selby is on the opposite side of the legal system from Perry Mason. He is a newly elected District Attorney who works crime cases with the newly elected Sheriff, Rex Brandon.  In the first book, The D.A. Calls It Murder, Selby must not only solve the murder with reluctant witnesses but face constant criticisms from a hostile and corrupt press. The-D-A-Calls-It-Murder-FE

His antagonist in many of the stories is Alphonse Baker (A.B.) Carr. Unlike Mason, he’s a shyster whose clients are usually guilty.  There are nine Selby books, a radio episode and a television film. The television film starred Jim Hutton who also played Ellery Queen in the television series.

Gardner’s Cool and Lam,

Cool and Lam was a series about a detective agency that Gardner wrote using the pseudonym A.A. Fair. He produced twenty-nine books featuring Bertha Cool and Donald Lam starting with The Bigger They Come (1939).

Bertha Cool takes over the detective agency after her husband’s death. She is described initially as being overweight with white hair, miserly, but persistent.  In the first novel, she hires Donald Lam as an operative who does the leg work for the agency.

Lam is not your typical hardboiled detective. He doesn’t weigh much and is constantly getting beat up. He doesn’t carry a gun for fear of losing it during a fight. However, like a true hardboiled detective he has his own code of justice which doesn’t always include following the normal legal process. Although, he wants a partnership in the agency, Lam doesn’t receive it until after he leaves the team and Bertha finally realizes how valuable his skills are to solving the crimes.

One final note about this series. The Knife Slipped which was written in 1939 as the second book in the series was lost among Gardner’s papers. When it was discovered it was finally published in 2016.

Still More Gardner Writings

Gardner did a great deal of radio work where he created characters such as Christopher London in 1950 (played by Glenn Ford) and characters for a Life in Your Hands which aired from 1949-1952.

Gardner also spent many hours working on a project called the “Court of Last Resort.” Working with legal, forensic and investigative experts, the project reviewed criminal cases and sought to reverse miscarriages of justice. Gardner wrote a book about the project’s work and won an Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category. The project was also made into a television series.

In addition to his fiction work, Gardner wrote documentaries about his travels through the Baja California peninsula. He loved the area and traveled extensively writing about his explorations. When he passed away on March 11, 1970 at age 80, his final instructions were that he was to be cremated and his ashes scattered over his beloved Baja peninsula.

Personal life

Gardner married Natalie Frances Talbert in 1912 and they had one daughter, Grace. Gardner and Frances separated in the early thirties, but never divorced. After her death in 1968, Gardner married Agnes Jean Bethell who had been one of his secretaries since 1930.

Gardner typed his stories on a typewriter using only two fingers.  Of course, as he became more famous he dictated his writing to a team of secretaries.  Jean had two sisters Peggy and Ruth who also worked as Garner’s secretaries. It is said that Jean, Peggy and Ruth inspired Gardner’s creation of Della Street.

Earl Stanley Gardner’s Contribution to Mysteries

The massive volume of work produced by Gardner makes him stand out from other crime and mystery writers. At the time of his death, he was the best-selling American writer of the 20th century.

With his courtroom stories, Gardner established a format that has continued to influence legal dramas through today. Gardner’s lawyers were more than the legal arm of the law. They were detectives who helped solve crimes. More importantly they insured that justice was done for both the innocent and the guilty. And like his Perry Mason TV series Gardner’s work continues to live on for new readers

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Erle Stanley Gardner Book Titles #1-Solution

A couple of weeks have passed since I posted this first word search puzzle of Perry Mason titles. Did you discover all of the key words? If not, here is the solution so you can check your work.

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Erle Stanley Gardner Titles #1 Word Search

Over the next several blogs, we’re going to take a look at Erle Stanley Gardner’s writings. Let’s start with a word search puzzle. This list represents the early Perry Mason titles through 1953. As always, search for the words from the titles in capital letters.

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Raymond Chandler Crossword Puzzle-Solution

Here’s your chance to see if you are a Raymond Chandler expert. Below are the solutions to the crossword puzzle.

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