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Frederick Irving Anderson Locked Room

Frederick Irving Anderson (1877-1947) was an American journalist and short story writer, born in Illinois. He wrote many short stories for magazines. He married Helen de Zouche, and retired after her death in 1937 to Vermont. He published two books on farming and only three works of fiction during his lifetime, leaving most of his stories uncollected in magazines. His character the Infallible Godahl is a self-proclaimed master criminal whose Watson is the writer Oliver Armiston. Both Godahl and the female jewel thief Sophie Lang manage to outwit the New York detective Deputy Parr.
Mike Grost on Frederick Irving Anderson

Frederick Irving Anderson was a prolific contributor to The Saturday Evening Post, and most of his work has never been published in book form. Anderson began publishing before World War I, and was still at it in 1946. He can be seen as a member of the Arthur B. Reeve school, but with some personal twists. Like Reeve, he often focuses on both crimes committed by scientific means, and on the detection of those crimes by the police using scientific criminology. But the tone of Anderson’s work is very different from the heroic scientists and dramatic storytelling of Reeve. Anderson clearly aspired to the irony, sophistication, and wit, of such writers as Saki and Oscar Wilde. His picture of endlessly fertile police spreading an infinitely wide and ingenious net to catch criminals, complete with every sort of scheme, impersonation and high tech tracking device, seems more in the classic whimsy tradition of Lewis Carroll or W.S. Gilbert, rather than anything remotely approaching realism. Like Carroll, there is both an obsessive and a surreal tone to Anderson’s comedy.

While there are sometimes puzzle plot aspects to Anderson’s work, the main emphasis is on detection, especially his extravagant version of police work. There is an important element of complex plotting, as well, with many surprising twists and turns – Anderson is always trying to sneak up on the reader out of left field – so his fiction will probably interest readers who are interested in plot technique.

Edited from Gadetection: Anderson, Frederick Irving

Frederick Irving Anderson Locked Room Short Stories

Big lizard LR mysteriesThe Fifth Tube (1914)
Detective: The Infallible Godahl

Collection: The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  eBook

Note: Our review from Blogging the Black Lizard part 7 of 8.

‘The Fifth Tube’ (1914), by Frederick Irving Anderson, introduces the modern reader to the ‘Infallible Godahl’, a brilliant crook, who as the Moonlight Detective so accurately notes, is the “nefarious counterpart to Jacques Futrelle’s The Thinking Machine.” The story involves the disappearance of forty gallons of gold, in a liquid solution, from the highly guarded offices of the U.S. Assay Office near Wall Street, a part of the U.S. Mint which actually operated at that location from 1854 until 1982. It is an audacious plan, carried out under the nose of a Secret Service agent, Whitaker, who eventually figures out how it was done, just before his investigation reaches a dead end. The best moment in the story is when Whitaker later visits his friend Godahl and admires his “monument to the Incas”. Of course, robbing the mint is a pretty sympathetic crime, and I am not qualified to comment on the chemical plausibility of the crime (which seems a bit suspect), but it is a thoroughly entertaining read. This is actually my first Godahl adventure. I’m not quite sure how I missed these great stories, but it certainly won’t be my last.

EQMM 02:48The Halfway House
Detective: Godahl & Oliver Armiston

Collection: EQMM, February, 1948

Available only in original magazine.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, February 1948

Note: Not much information available!

A case of poisoning in a bedroom inside a locked house.

Frederick Irving Anderson Godahl Collections

godahlThe Adventures of The Infallible Godahl
Detective: The Infallible Godahl

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  Internet Archives


I. The Infallible Godahl
II. Blind Man’s Buff
III. The Night of a Thousand Thieves
IV. Counterpoint
V. The Fifth Tube
VI. An All-Star Cast 

Frederick Irving Anderson Bibliography

Locked Room 101: The Masters

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