Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crossover of the Week

May 1934
            Leo Saint-Clair (aka the Nyctalope) meets a man named Henry Arnaud while traveling to New York City aboard a commercial airship. They are joined by Ivor Llewellyn, head of Superba-Llewellyn Pictures in California, who wants to make a movie based on Saint-Clair’s exploits, in which he would co-star with the studio’s own Lotus Blossom. Llewellyn also says that the Americans used to see the silent serials based on both Saint-Clair and Judex’s adventures, and that he wouldn’t put it past Schnellenhammer of Perfecto-Zizzbaum, F.X. Weinberg of Metropolis Pictures, or Jacques Butcher of Magna to attempt to sign the hero to a contract as well. Leo is traveling to New York at the invitation of Dr. Orestes Preson, Curator of Fossil Mammals at the Bradley Institute of Paleontology and Natural History. The other reason for his journey is that some time ago, his friend Judge Coméliau was the victim of a murder attempt by a crime lord who calls himself Zigomar after the self-styled “King of Thieves” from twenty years ago, who escaped death at the hands of the policeman Broquet many times. Saint-Clair has received a tip that the new Zigomar has relocated to New York. After they land, Leo accompanies Arnaud in a cab driven by Moe Shrevnitz to the Churchill Hotel. Arnaud offers Leo the services of his friend Lamont Cranston. The manager of the Hotel argues with a man who identifies himself as Sebastian Tombs. Nero Wolfe asks Archie Goodwin if he’s ever told him about Monsieur Anatole, a French chef who works for a wealthy Englishman named Thomas Travers and his wife. Archie adds that Mrs. Travers publishes a magazine called Milady’s Boudoir. Wolfe remarks that Anatole is said to surpass Fritz Brenner in the culinary arts. Inspector Cramer calls Wolfe and says that Detective Sgt. Purley Stebbins is escorting a Frenchman (meaning Leo) to Wolfe’s brownstone. Wolfe tells Archie to call Colonel Dubois of the Deuxième Bureau in Paris, as well as Saul Panzer. Prosper Lepicq is mentioned in Wolfe and Dubois’ conversation. Stebbins arrives with Saint-Clair in tow, and then returns to his taxi, a new yellow Checker from the Sunshine Cab Company. Among the items in Wolfe’s office is a framed portrait of Sherlock Holmes above Archie’s desk. After breakfast at the Churchill, Leo was escorted to the Panther-Pilsner brewery by criminals named Harry the Horse, Little Isadore, and Spanish John, who work for a man called “the Big Fellow.” Commissioner Wainwright Barth took Leo to see Cramer. Cramer himself arrives at the brownstone, with District Attorney William Skinner and his assistant, Anthony Quinn, in tow. Skinner says that Leo’s friend Alexandre Prillant is worried about him. He also divulges the fact that the previous Big Fellow was William Valcross, who was remanded into the custody of Inspector Fernack several years ago, and then died in the electric chair.
            Short story by Stuart Shiffman in The Nyctalope Steps In, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Black Coat Press, 2011; reprinted in French in La Nuit du Nyctalope, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Rivière Blanche, 2012. The Nyctalope and his friend Alexandre Prillant are from French pulp novels by Jean de La Hire. Henry Arnaud is one of the Shadow’s many aliases. Lamont Cranston is a millionaire whom Allard frequently impersonates. Moe “Shrevvy” Shrevnitz and Deputy Commissioner Wainwright Barth are also from the Shadow novels. Ivor “Ikey” Llewellyn and his studio Superba-Llewellyn Pictures are from P.G. Wodehouse’s novels The Luck of the Bodkins; Frozen Assets; Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin; and Bachelors Anonymous. Lotus “Lottie” Blossom is also from The Luck of the Bodkins. Jacob Z. Schnellenhammer and the Perfecto-Zizzbaum Motion Picture Corporation are from Wodehouse’s Mr. Mulliner stories. Tom Travers and his wife Dahlia are the uncle and aunt respectively of Wodehouse’s most famous character, Bertie Wooster. Monsieur Anatole is their personal chef, while Milady’s Boudoir is a magazine published by Dahlia. Judex is the title character of Louis Feuillade’s film serial. F.X. Weinberg’s Metropolis Pictures appears in Denis Green and Anthony Boucher's radio series The Casebook of Gregory Hood, as well as Boucher's novels The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars and Rocket to the Morgue, the Fergus O’Breen novels and stories, and his short story “Mystery for Christmas.” The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars features O’Breen’s sister in a prominent role, while Rocket to the Morgue features nun Sister Ursula and police detective Terry Marshall, who first appeared in Boucher’s Nine Times Nine. Lt. Herman Finch from The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars also appears in Boucher’s first Nick Noble story, “Screwball Division,” while the last Noble story, “The Girl Who Married a Monster,” refers to Fergus O’Breen’s detective agency. Jacques Butcher and Magna Studios are from the Ellery Queen novel The Four of Hearts. Dr. Orestes Preson is from Frances and Richard Lockridge’s Mr. and Mrs. North mystery Dead as a Dinosaur. Judge Ernest Coméliau appeared in several non-series novels written by Georges Simenon under pseudonyms before becoming a recurring character in the Maigret books. The original Zigomar was a gypsy crime lord and foe of policeman Paulin Broquet in stories by Léon Sazie. Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Fritz Brenner, Inspector Cramer, Sgt. Stebbins, Saul Panzer, and D.A. Skinner are from the novels by Rex Stout. The Churchill Hotel appears in both the Nero Wolfe novels and Stout’s Tecumseh Fox series. Sebastian Tombs is an alias used by Simon Templar, aka the Saint. William Valcross (the original Big Fellow) and Inspector Fernack are from Leslie Charteris’ The Saint in New York. Prosper Lepicq is featured in books by Pierre Véry. Colonel Dubois appears in novels by Pierre Nord. The Sunshine Cab Company is from the TV series Taxi. William S. Baring-Gould identified Sherlock Holmes as Nero Wolfe’s father. The Panther-Pilsner brewery is from the Three Stooges short Three Little Beers. Harry the Horse, Little Isadore, and Spanish John are from the stories of Damon Runyon. Anthony Quinn will later become the vigilante known as the Black Bat, whose adventures appeared in the pulp Black Book Detective.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I read Anthony Boucher's "The Pink Caterpillar" after reading this. Just because it featured Fergus O'Brien.

    Keep up the good work!