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Fredric Brown Locked Room Titles


Fredric brownFredric Brown (1906-1972) was a science fiction and mystery author best known for writing short stories with a humorous flair. Brown was born in Ohio and educated at the University of Cincinnati and Hanover College, Indiana. He married Elizabeth Chandler. He worked in an office from 1924 to 1936, after which he became a proofreader and journalist. In 1947 he took up full-time writing, and won an Edgar in 1948.

Humour is one of the hallmarks of his novels and short fiction. His science fiction novel ‘What Mad Universe’ (1949) plays with the clichéd conventions of the genre by throwing a pulp magazine editor into a parallel world based, not on the adventure stories he published, but rather on a naive fan’s image of those stories and the man who published them. Similarly, ‘Martians, Go Home’ (1955) looks at a Martian invasion through the eyes of a science fiction author.

Brown’s first mystery novel, ‘The Fabulous Clipjoint’, won the Edgar Award for outstanding first mystery novel. It began a series starring Ed and Ambrose Hunter, and depicts how a young man gradually ripens into a detective under the tutelage of his uncle, an ex–private eye now working as a carnival concessionaire.

Many of his books make use of the threat of the supernatural or occult before the “straight” explanation at the end. For example, ‘Night of the Jabberwock’ is a bizarre and humorous narrative of an extraordinary day in the life of a small-town newspaper editor.

Ayn Rand singled out Brown for high praise in her book The Romantic Manifesto. The famous pulp writer Mickey Spillane called Brown “my favorite writer of all time”.

In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre (1981), a survey of the horror genre since 1950, writer Stephen King includes an appendix of “roughly one hundred” influential books of the period: Fredric Brown’s short-story collection ‘Nightmares and Geezenstacks’ is included, and is, moreover, asterisked as being among those select works King regards as “particularly important.”

Edited from Gadetection & Wikipedia

From Gadetection:

The Ed and Am Hunter Series

Until recently I had always regarded Fredric Brown as a one-hit wonder. I suppose I was reasoning that any other books of his that were even nearly as good as Night of the Jabberwock would surely not have gone out of print or disappeared from sight. Of course, I was wrong. Brown wrote many more books including a series featuring a young detective called Ed Hunter, who works in collaboration with his uncle and mentor Am (Ambrose). The books that I have read in the series so far are, in order: The Fabulous Clipjoint, The Dead Ringer, The Bloody Moonlight, Compliments Of A Fiend, Death Has Many Doors.

1. The Fabulous Clipjoint
2. The Dead Ringer
3. The Bloody Moonlight
4. Compliments of a Fiend
5. Death Has Many Doors

None of the books are tightly plotted in a detective sense: some of them have sloppy investigation and logical holes you could drive a truck through. But Ed and Am are engaging characters and Brown’s local knowledge of Chicago and surrounding areas gives them a feel of authenticity. Ed is a little too attractive to women to be true, but his ongoing growth and maturity give the books a thread, and each one looks forward to the next. Not exactly cosies or hardboiled but somewhere in between. Highly recommended.

Jon

Mike Grost on Fredric Brown

More on Fredric Brown

Locked Room Notes: 

Locked Room fans should note that ‘Death Has Many Doors’ is well ranked in Edward D. Hoch’s famous list of all time best locked room mysteries. The Laughing Butcher is another great locked room masterpiece that is a must read. Few will know, or likely get the chance to read, Brown’s humorous series of short stories featuring Ernie, an assistant at Feedum & Weap, feed dealers, who solves a fantastic series of impossible rural crimes that is reminiscent of Hoch’s Dr. Sam series! The Water Walker really must be reprinted!


Fredric Brown Locked Room Novels & Short Story Collections


death doorsDeath Has Many Doors
Detectives: Ed & Am Hunter

 

 

Best Review
*****

Available only in used paperback editions.

Book  Amazon.ca

Note: Little Green Murderers?

The fifth novel in the Ed and Am series, and last for several years (Brown worked on other projects from ’52-58.) Having opened their own detective agency, Ed and Am start by taking cases passed along by former employer Starlock. One day a girl walks into their door, in fear of being murdered by Martians. The pair don’t take her too seriously… until she winds up dead.


water walkerThe Water-Walker (Short Story Collection) (1990)
Detective: Various

 

 

Best Review
*****

Available only in used paperback editions. Only 425 numbered copies published. In 1984, Dennis McMillan began to publish an ambitious multi-volume Fredric Brown Pulp Detective Series, collecting all the best of his previously-unreprinted work, mostly, but not exclusively, in the crime field. This is Volume 17 and the only source for 11 of Fredric Brown’s locked room stories, other than impossible to find copies of Feedstuffs Magazine from 1937 and 1938.

Book

Note: A very rare item!

Includes:

Case Of The Apocryphal Ark.
Case Of The Bewildering Barn.
Case Of The Conjurer’s Cat.
Case Of The Flying Cow, Or How Did The Critter Get Into The Silo?
Case Of The Haunted Haystack.
Case Of The Languid Lamb.
Case Of The Rambling Rocks.
Case Of The Rebellious Rooster.
Case Of The Refrigerating Windmill.
Case Of The Shrinking Stallion.
Case Of The Stuttering Shoat.
Case Of The Uncountable Sheep.
Case Of The Wandering Scarecrow.
Ernie Catches Up With Wily Willie, Case Of The Vanishing Duck.
Ernie Stops Shivering, Case Of the Trackless Tractor.
Ernie, Minister Of Peace And Goodness, Case Of the Multiplying Eggs.
Martians, Go Home • (1955) • Novel By Fredric Brown
Matter Of Taste, A.
Miracle On Vine Street.
Tit For Tat, Case Of The Purple Percheron.

See contents


Madman's HolidayMad Man’s Holiday (Short Story Collection) (1986)
Detectives: Various

 

 

Available only in used paperback editions. Only 425 numbered copies published. In 1984, Dennis McMillan began to publish the ambitious multi-volume Fredric Brown Pulp Detective Series, collecting all the best of his previously-unreprinted work, mostly, but not exclusively, in the crime field. This is Volume 3 and currently the only source for his ‘Madman’s Holiday’ short story.

Book

Note: Another fairly rare item!

Includes:

Madman’s Holiday

The Song of The Dead


goulish laughterPardon My Goulish Laughter (Short Story Collection) (1986)
Detectives: Various

 

Available only in used paperback editions. Only 425 numbered copies published. In 1984, Dennis McMillan began to publish the ambitious multi-volume Fredric Brown Pulp Detective Series, collecting all the best of his previously-unreprinted work, mostly, but not exclusively, in the crime field. This is Volume 7 and the only source for a few of Fredric Brown’s early locked room stories.

Book

Note: Another fairly rare item!

Includes:

Death Is A White Rabbit.
Death Of A Vampire.
The Ghost Breakers.
The Incredible Bomber
A Lock Of Satan’s Hair.
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter.
Twice Killed Corpse.

See contents


carnival crimeCarnival of Crime (Short Story Collection) (1986)
Detectives: Various

 

 

Best Review

Available only in used paperback editions. 

Book

Note: Another good collection!

In these 23 stories, Brown never fails to surprise and delight. Time after time the reader anticipates the ending only to discover that once more the author has proved too clever. Yet Brown never “cheats,” never feeds false clues, and his endings are always plausible. His imag­ination is by turns puckish, grim, out­landish—but forever fresh.

Brown’s stories run from the fifty-word ‘“Mistake’ to a novelette (“The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches”). In “Granny’s Birthday,” a two-page short short, with Granny supervising like a benign queen, the party goes splendidly, marred only by manslaughter and murder.

Includes:

Town wanted
Little apple hard to peel
A Little white lyne
Blue murder
The Djinn murder
Murder while you wait
Mr. Smith kicks the bucket
The Dangerous people
The Night the world ended
A Voice behind him
Don’t look behind you
Miss darkness
I’ll cut your throat again, Kathleen
The Laughing butcher
The Joke
Cry silence
Cain
The Case of the dancing sandwiches
Witness in the dark
Granny’s birthday
Hobbyist
Nightmare in yellow
Mistake.


Miss DarknessMiss Darkness: The Great Short Crime Fiction of Fredric Brown (Short Story Collection) (1986)
Detectives: Various

 

Available only in paperback editions. 

Book  

Note: One of The Best Collections

Includes:

Miss Darkness
Little Boy Lost
Good Night…Good Knight
A Matter of Death
Get Out Of Town
Granny’s Birthday
Nightmare in Yellow
Cry Silence
I’ll Cut Your Throat Again Kathleen
A Little White Lye
The Joke
Little Apple Hard To Peel
Don’t Look Behind You
Life and Fire
The Shaggy Dog Murders
The Spherical Ghoul
Moon Over Murder
The Djinn Murder
Handbook For Homicide
The Jabberwocky Murders
The Cat From Siam
Satan One and a Half
The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches
The Laughing Butcher
Death is a Noise
The Little Lamb
Murder Set to Music
The Freak Show Murders
The Wench Is Dead
The Pickled Punks
Obit for Obie.


Murder CrowdMurder Draws a Crowd: The Fredric Brown Mystery Library, Volume One (Short Story Collection) (2015)
Detectives: Various

 

Best Review

Still not available – originally scheduled for September, 2015. 

Book

Note: A new collection!

Includes:

The Moon for a Nickel, Detective Story Magazine Mar. 38
The Cheese on Stilts, Thrilling Detective Jan. 39
Blood of the Dragon, Variety Detective Feb. 39
There Are Bloodstains in the Alley, Detective Yarns Feb. 39
Murder at 10:15, Clues Detective Stories May 39
The Prehistoric Clue, Ten Detective Aces Jul. 40
Trouble in a Teacup, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-13-1940
Murder Draws a Crowd, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-27-1940
Footprints on the Ceiling, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 40
The Little Green Men, The Masked Detective Fall 1940
Town Wanted, Detective Fiction Weekly Sep-7-1940
Herbie Rides His Hunch, Detective Fiction Weekly Oct-19-1940
The Stranger from Trouble Valley, Western Short Stories Nov. 40
The Strange Sisters Strange, Detective Fiction Weekly Dec-28-1940
How Tagrid Got There, unpublished until 1986
Fugitive Imposter, Ten Detective Aces Jan. 41
The King Comes Home, Thrilling Detective Jan. 41
Big-Top Doom, Ten Detective Aces Mar 41 The Discontented Cows, G-Men Detective Mar. 41
Life and Fire, Detective Fiction Weekly Mar-22-1941
Big-League Larceny, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41 {as by Jack Hobart}
Selling Death Short, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41
Client Unknown, The Phantom Detective Apr. 41
Your Name in Gold, The Phantom Detective Jun. 41
Here Comes the Hearse, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41 {as by Allen Morse}
Six-Gun Song, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41
Star-Spangled Night, Coronet Jul. 41
Wheels Across the Night, G-Men Detective Jul. 41
Little Boy Lost, Detective Fiction Weekly Aug-2-1941
Bullet for Bullet, Western Short Stories Oct. 41
Listen to the Mocking Bird (NT) G-Men Detective Nov. 41
You’ll End Up Burning!, Ten Detective Aces Nov. 41
Number Bug, Exciting Detective Winter 1941
Thirty Corpses Every Thursday, Detective Tales Dec. 41
Trouble Comes Double, Popular Detective Dec. 41
Clue in Blue, Thrilling Mystery Jan. 42
Death is a White Rabbit, Strange Detective Mysteries Jan. 42
Twenty Gets You Plenty, G-Men Detective Jan. 42
Bloody Murder, Detective Fiction Jan-10-1942

Appendix: Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part One

The “V.O.N. Munchdriller” stories from The Driller
The “William Z. Williams”” stories from Excavating Engineer

See contents


Death DarkDeath in The Dark: The Fredric Brown Mystery Library, Volume Two (Short Story Collection) (2015)
Detectives: Various

Available for pre-order, but not yet with a release date on Amazon. An even better collection of Fredric Brown mystery stories.  02/16 still not available.

Book

Note: A new collection!

Includes:

Little Apple Hard to Peel, Detective Tales Feb. 42
Death in the Dark, Dime Mystery Mar. 42
The Incredible Bomber, G-Men Detective Mar. 42
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter, Strange Detective Mysteries Mar. 42
Twice-Killed Corpse, Ten Detective Aces Mar. 42
A Cat Walks, Detective Story Magazine Apr. 42
Mad Dog!, Detective Book Magazine Spring 1942
Moon Over Murder, The Masked Detective Spring 1942
Who Did I Murder?, Detective Short Stories Apr. 42
Murder in Furs, Thrilling Detective May 42
Suite for Flute and Tommy Gun, Detective Story Magazine Jun. 42
Three-Corpse Parlay, Popular Detective Jun. 42
A Date to Die, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42
Red is the Hue of Hell, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42 {as by Felix Graham}
Two Biers for Two, Clues Detective Stories Jul. 42
You’ll Die Before Dawn, Mystery Magazine Jul. 42
Get Out of Town, Thrilling Detective Sep. 42
A Little White Lye, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 42
The Men Who Went Nowhere, Dime Mystery Sep. 42
Nothing Sinister, Mystery Magazine Sep. 42
The Numberless Shadows, Detective Story Magazine Sep. 42
Satan’s Search Warrant, 10-Story Detective Sep. 42
Where There’s Smoke, Black Book Detective Sep. 42
Boner, Popular Detective Oct. 42
Legacy of Murder, Exciting Mystery Oct. 42
The Santa Claus Murders, Detective Story Magazine Oct. 42
Double Murder, Thrilling Detective Nov. 42 {as by John S. Endicott}
A Fine Night for Murder, Detective Tales Nov. 42
Heil, Werewolf!, Dime Mystery Nov. 42 {as by Felix Graham}
I’ll See You at Midnight, Clues Detective Stories Nov. 42
The Monkey Angle, Thrilling Detective Nov. 42
Satan One-and-a-Half, Dime Mystery Nov. 42

Appendix: Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part Two
The “Willie Skid” stories from Ford Dealer Service Bulletin The “Colonel Cluck” stories from The Michigan Well Driller and Independent Salesman
The “Barnyard Bill” stories from Feedstuffs
See contents


Fredric Brown Locked Room Short Stories


water walkerThe Case of the Flying Cow (1937)
AKA: How Did the Critter Get Into the Silo?

Detective: Ernie
Collection: Feedstuffs, Mar. 20, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Scoggins’ cow and two calfs suddenly appear inside a grain silo in Ernie’s first impossible mystery.


water walkerThe Case of the Refrigerating Windmill (1937)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs, May 8, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Shoeman’s windmill, in the middle of a heat wave, suddenly starts blowing cold, giving people frostbite!


water walkerThe Case of the Haunted Haystack (1937)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs, May 15, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Horner awakens in the middle of the night to find his haystack walking away! Clue: There’s a circus in town!


water walkerThe Case of the Uncountable Sheep (1937)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs, June 5, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Note: Is the shepherd getting sleepy?

Every night, Mr. Gettlemeyer counts his sheep as they return to the barn. But one day there are 75, another 81, though in fact, he has only 65 sheep, and they cannot belong to anyone else! 


water walkerErnie, Minister of Peace and Goodness (1937)
AKA: The Case of the Multiplying Eggs

Detective: Ernie
Collection: Feedstuffs, Oct. 2, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Wimple’s twelve hens are laying eggs like crazy, up to three dozen eggs a day, and this impossible situation has been going on for four days.


water walkerErnie Catches Up with Wily Willie (1937)
AKA: The Case of the Vanishing Duck

Detective: Ernie
Collection: Feedstuffs. Oct. 9, 1937; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Walters watched his ducks swimming in the pond. The ducks suddenly duck and do not return to the surface, nor are they found at the bottom of the pond.


water walkerThe Case of the Wandering Scarecrow (1938)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs, Jan. 15, 1938; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Hackenschmidt’s sister sees a scarecrow wandering in the fields, and this is the second time the straw man has been witnessed. 


water walkerThe Case of the Bewildering Barn (1938)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs ,Feb. 5, 1938; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Rogers’ barn changes colour from the standard red to green overnight.


water walkerThe Case of the Conjurer’s Cat (1938)
Detective: Ernie

Collection: Feedstuffs, Mar. 26 1938; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Pink paw prints suddenly appear overnight on the ceiling of Mr. Walsh’s recently renovated room. 


water walkerErnie Stops Shivering (1938)
AKA: The Case of the Trackless Tractor

Detective: Ernie
Collection: Feedstuffs, Sept. 24 1938; The Water-Walker (1990)

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Mr. Barnes’ tractor suddenly turns up in the middle of a snow covered field, but no tracks lead to where the tractor is finally found. 


water walkerMiracle on Vine Street (1941)
Detective: Roger L. Young, Doctor of Divinity

Collection: The Layman’s Magazine, January 1941; The Water Walker

Available only in used paperback edition.

Book

Quite similar to ‘The Case of the Conjurer’s Cat’, pink paw prints suddenly appear on the ceiling of a recently renovated room.


Death DarkThe Incredible Bomber (1942)
Detective: Henry Smith

Collection: G-Men Detective, March 1942; Pardon My Goulish Laughter (1986); Death in The Dark (pre-order)

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book – Not Yet Available 

Mike Grost: “one of several borderline impossible crime tales Brown wrote about strange “hallucinations”. In these tales, characters see and/or hear things that are impossible, apparently supernatural, or absurd. Eventually, Brown provides a full rational explanation.” A sheriff and an insurance agent are out to find out why, or even if, an agoraphobic ex-playwright is the target of a crazed pilot in a bomber.  


Death DarkA Date to Die (1942)
Detective: Non-series

Collection: Strange Detective Mysteries, July 1942; Death in The Dark (pre-order)

Best Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  – Not Yet Available 

Mike Grost: “one of several borderline impossible crime tales Brown wrote about strange “hallucinations”. In these tales, characters see and/or hear things that are impossible, apparently supernatural, or absurd. Eventually, Brown provides a full rational explanation.” 


Death Locked InThe Spherical Ghoul (1943)
Detective: Jerry Grant

Collection: Thrilling Mystery, Jan. 1943; Pardon My Goulish Laughter; Death in The Dark; Death Locked In, ed. Adey & Greene

Best Review

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book  Amazon.ca 

Note: A famous locked room mystery!

Bill Pronzini’s introduction to this story tells it all: “This story has a typically wild and wonderful Brown plot – its ingredients include a morgue at night, a horribly disfigured corpse, mayhem aplenty, and a classic locked room mystery – and one of the cleverest (if outrageous) central gimmicks you are likely to come across anywhere”.


Madman's HolidayMadman’s Holiday (1943)
Detective:

Collection: Madman’s Holiday

Best Review

Available only in used paperback editions.

Book  Movie

Mike Grost“Madman’s Holiday” (1943) was filmed as The Crack-Up (1946). This movie is one of Hollywood’s few excursions into the world of impossible crime. Art expert Pat O’Brien stumbles into a museum with a wild and on the face of it, improbable story; eventually he finds out how it all actually happened. The story is more “borderline impossible” than a classical impossible tale; it involves more unraveling the surreal and bizarre than a John Dickson Carr type impossibility. There is terrific cinematography by Robert De Grasse.

“Madman’s Holiday” is one of several borderline impossible crime tales Brown wrote about strange “hallucinations”. In these tales, characters see and/or hear things that are impossible, apparently supernatural, or absurd. Eventually, Brown provides a full rational explanation. These stories include the first Mr. Smith tale, “The Incredible Bomber” (1942), and “A Date to Die” (1942).


Miss DarknessThe Djinn Murder (1943)
Detective: Non-series

Collection: EQMM, Jan 1944; Carnival of Crime; Miss Darkness

Best Review

Available only in paperback editions.

Book 

Mike Grost: “A non-Smith impossible crime story that is also charming and light hearted is “The Djinn Murder” (1943)


EQMM 01:61Whistler’s Murder (1946 )AKA: Mr. Smith Protects a Client
Detective: Henry Smith

Collection:  Detective Story, December 1946;  Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 1961

Best Review

Available only in used magazine format. 

EQMM January 1961 – not currently available.

Mr Henry Smith of The Phalanx Insurance Company becomes involved with a death by stabbing inside a locked and guarded house.


Big lizard LR mysteriesThe Laughing Butcher (1948)
Detective: Bill

Collection: Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

Locked Room Review

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: Another locked room classic!

‘The Laughing Butcher’ by Fredric Brown is one of the best stories in this anthology and one of the most original solutions ever crafted for the “no footprints” locked room plot device. Two tracks of footprints lead to a body in the middle of a snow covered field, but neither victim walks away. Gerard Kramer, the ‘laughing butcher’, was a notorious rival of the victim, and a former circus illusionist and practitioner of the dark arts. The locals in this strange small town in Illinois, largely populated by former circus performers, knew it was his prints that chased the victim out into the snow and never returned, so they lynched him on a handy lamp post. Which is just fine, if you believe in the supernatural, but at least one very sharp Chicago cop was not quite so gullible! Clearly the best story in this section!


1: Complete Fredric Brown Bibliography   2: Short Stories List


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