Monday, 25 July 2016

Introduction to The Fourth Dagger

In the Editor’s Confidence
From Maclean’s Magazine, September 15 1932

THE STORY is being told of an American tourist who, on visiting Abbey Craig in Scotland, enquired of his guide the significance of the national monument that stands there. The guide drew himself up proudly and said, “It’s in honor of Wallace, who drove the English out of Scotland.” “Good old Edgar,” said the tourist.
Nine out of ten readers will smile at this without prodding. Which demonstrates how widely known the late Edgar Wallace was. And now the book reviewers are offering their opinions as to who will succeed him as Master of Thrillers. We have before us several British reviews which favor Luke Allan for the title. At this point mysterious music is heard, the lights go out, a woman shrieks, a wild laugh curdles our blood and the curtain rises, revealing, on page seven, the first installment of "The Fourth Dagger,” Mr. Allan’s latest detective hair-raiser.
Mark you, this isn't all. Snatching the false whiskers off Luke Allan’s chin, you are literally dumbfounded to learn that he is really Lacey Amy, a Canadian, who was born at Sydenham, a village north of Kingston, Ontario, and who at this very moment is hidden away in Toronto working on his umpteenth novel. Being the son of a Methodist minister, Amy was educated all over the province, ending up at Guelph Collegiate Institute and Victoria College, his leading honor course being athletics. His first writing venture was with the MacLean Publishing Company, as editor of Dry Goods Review (Adv.) but there is nothing dry about “The Fourth Dagger.” Later he bought a newspaper in Medicine Hat. There he absorbed the atmosphere for his earlier western stories, and returned to the East to write them. In 1916 he went to London to do special correspondence for Canadian dailies. His next move was to France as Canadian war correspondent, the only correspondent permitted to search for "color" with the British Army. At the close of the war he returned to fiction. Since then he has produced fifteen books under the name of “Luke Allan,” in addition to several bearing his own name and a third name known only to his agent. With his wife he is a chronic traveller. Since 1923 they have lived in twenty different countries, with regular spells back home.

As for “The Fourth Dagger," knowing who killed Aaron Netherwood and how he was killed, we can go off on our vacation with a self-complacent air that is going to be very annoying to people who for some weeks must be absolutely baffled. Mr. Dinsmore, who illustrated the story, shares the secret, of course. But we’ve got him on an island.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.