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Old 07-01-2010, 10:46 PM   #1
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Footner, Hulbert: The Under Dogs ... V1 1 Jul 2010

Hamilton, Ontario born novelist Hulbert Footner (2 Apr 1879 – 25 Nov 1944), wrote about what he knew: canoeing, New York and Chesapeake Bay. He moved to New York City as teenager, dabbled in acting (he toured briefly with William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes) and wrote magazine articles while supporting himself working as a clerk at a financial firm. As a freelancer for the New York Herald and Calgary Morning Albertan, he sent dispatches from two major canoeing adventures through north western Canada. Out of these flowed romantic novels and enough to purchase a summer home, "Charles' Gift", in MD and among the oldest homes in America. He continued to write magazine articles, plays for Broadway but soon turned to popular detective mystery novels beginning with The Fugitive Sleuth in 1916. He eventually wrote nearly 60 books, including an affectionate look at New York, histories of Maryland and about thirty mysteries. Madame Rosika Storey and Amos Lee Mappin were his two principle recurring sleuths, both fondly remembered today although his works are largely out of print.

Madame Rosika Storey is a detective living near Gramercy Park, NY, in the mid-1920s. Storey's secretary, companion and gushing admirer, Bella Brickley narrates as her hero solves crimes and straightens out people's problems. The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection calls her, "a stunningly beautiful young woman who describes herself as 'a practical psychologist--specializing in the feminine." The Under Dogs is the first novel of the Madame Rosika Storey detective series (she had already appeared in short story form); it first appeared as a six-part serial in Argosy, Jan 3 to Feb 7, 1925. There are distinct fingerprints of Frank L Packard's 1914 novel The Adventures of Jimmie Dale, although the criminals are both more believable and less vicious in Footner's variation on a theme.

Robert Sampson, in Yesterday's Faces: The Solvers, provides several pages of background on Madame Storey. For this novel he writes: "Matters begin with violence. A girl, promising sensational revelations, is on her way to Madame Storey's office. Before she arrives there, she is clubbed down and kidnapped. Attempting to search out the girl, Rosika and Bella (Storey's secretary cum companion — who is horrified by the idea) move into the underworld. The cool, high-fashion Rosika suddenly shows a genius for disguise and an ability to shine in low company, down among the East-side gin mills. Her investigation gradually narrows to a house on Varick Street, populated by very hard cases, male and female. There are dead men under the basement floor, a chained prisoner in the attic, and a reluctant gang of crooks being blackmailed to work the will of a master mind, dimly seen."
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