Intrigued by David Vineyard’s review on Mysteryfile, I went ahead and read Sapper’s Jim Maitland, which collects stories that had previously appeared in Pearson’s, McClure’sand the Strand. It was considerably easier to find than the Adrian collection. Jim Maitland is a monocle wearing pukka sahib. Possessing private means, he chooses to roam the world in search of adventure. Fair enough, I might choose to do the same if I had the private means. At least the roaming the world part.
|H.C. McNeile aka Sapper c. 1924|
|Jim Maitland by “Sapper” (H. C. McNeile)|
Four stories stood out in the collection. Colettefinds Maitland in Valparaiso where he comes across a girl who asks him to rescue her from a shady tavern-keeper. The tavern keeper makes money out of desperate women by driving them to the so-called oldest profession, and he collects the money. Maitland tries to save the girl, and she returns the favor.
|Illustration for the Jim Maitland story Colette|
Pete Cornish’s revenge is a sequel to The fight at Bull Mine Creekin which Cornish was knocked out in front of the crowd of miners he was bullying; Cornish waylays Maitland and makes him climb down down a rope into a deep abandoned mineshaft. As he’s lowered into the shaft, Maitland’s luck seems to have run out…
|Illustration for the Jim Maitland story The revenge of Pete Cornish|
The Seven Missionaries is set at sea; a crew of hijackers disguised as missionaries are after a secret shipment of gold bullion. Maitland, outnumbered and outgunned, disappears but is he really going to let them get away with it? Of course not.
|Illustration for the Jim Maitland story The seven missionaries|
A game of bluff is fun; Maitland runs a bluff on crooked gamblers who swindle a boy of his company’s money. The bluff and the denouement are clever, and the villain is purged of his inner demons…and most everything else.
|Illustration for the Jim Maitland story The game of bluff|
The madman at Corn Reef lighthouse demanded credulity beyond my breaking point. A solitary lighthouse keeper in an isolated place is suspected of madness and murder. Yet Maitland and his friends sleep through the night, keeping no watch on the man. Things go bad, thrillingly and stupidly…Spooky atmosphere but the plot hole lets the story down.
The killing of Baron Stockmar is the closest approach to a clubland story. A duel between the baron, a swinish brute, and Maitland the straight batting cricket player. Very much of its time; I found it dull.
The pool of the sacred crocodile is an Indiana Jones like action story, thrilling, but spoiled for me by Maitland breaking his bonds, rescuing the girl and getting rid of the villain without suffering a scratch. An experiment in electricity, the sequel, paints Maitland as a duffer who can’t see that the Egyptian prince on board their ship is the villain pursuing their party. I would have thought it obvious, since the prince was the only Egyptian on board, and Maitland and party had just received threatening messages on slips of paper. At the least, I would have been more cautious and less trusting than Maitland…
The collection is available at Amazon for a reasonable price. For those of you who prefer an ebook, a copy is available at archive.org. Neither of them has these wonderful illustrations, which appeared in McClure’s where the series was first published in the USA.