Friday’s Forgotten Book: Madame Storey by Hulbert Footner

William Hulbert Footner (1879-1944) was born in Hamilton, Canada, and moved to New York before he was 20 years old. Eventually he settled his family in Calvert County, Maryland. He wrote books on travel and developed mysteries around two series detectives: one is Amos Lee Mappin, a successful mystery writer who solved crimes in and around New York’s social scene, the other is Madame Rosika Storey, a private investigator in New York City, whose exploits were described by her assistant. Madame Storey is a 1920s professional who chooses career over the traditional role for women, in itself interesting. Footner’s Rosika Storey cases appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly every year from 1922 through 1935. Some were collected into book-length volumes and reissued as the following titles:

  1. The Under Dogs, New York, London, 1925
  2. Madame Storey, New York, London, 1926
  3. The Velvet Hand, New York London, 1928
  4. The Doctor Who Held Hands, 1929
  5. Easy to Kill, 1931
  6. The Casual Murderer, London, 1932
  7. The Almost Perfect Murder, 1933
  8. Dangerous Cargo, 1934
  9. The Kidnapping of Madame Storey, London, Toronto, and New York, 1936. (Source: Wikipedia)

The first book featuring Madame Storey was published by Doran in 1926 and is a collection of four short stories:

  • “The Ashcomb Poor Case”
  • “The Scrap of Lace”
  • “The Smoke Bandit”
  • “In the Round Room”

The first story, the longest of the four, describes how Madame Storey met her assistant and then ran circles around the local district attorney in the successful identification of the culprit who murdered Ashcomb Poor, a wealthy man whose womanizing proved to be his undoing.

These stories are more character focused than plot driven. They are a pleasant read, reflecting as they do the Roaring Twenties during which they were written, although not particularly remarkable in investigative techniques or plot devices. They are worth looking into by those interested in Golden Age mysteries.

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