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Manly Wade Wellman Locked Room
Manly Wade Wellman (1903 – 1986) was an American pulp writer, primarily remembered for his science fiction and fantasy stories which appeared in such pulps as Astounding Stories, Startling Stories, Unknown and Strange Stories, though Wellman is perhaps best best remembered as one of the most popular contributors to the legendary Weird Tales, and for his fantasy and horror stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, which draw on the native folklore of that region. Karl Edward Wagner referred to him as “the dean of fantasy writers.” Wellman also wrote in a wide variety of other genres, including historical fiction, detective fiction, western fiction, juvenile fiction, and non-fiction.
Wellman was a long-time resident of North Carolina. He received many awards, including the World Fantasy Award and Edgar Allan Poe Award. In 2013, the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation inaugurated an award named after him to honor other North Carolina authors of science fiction and fantasy.
Three of Wellman’s most famous recurring protagonists are (1) John, aka John the Balladeer, aka “Silver John”, a wandering backwoods minstrel with a silver-stringed guitar, (2) the elderly “occult detective” Judge Pursuivant, and (3) John Thunstone, also an occult investigator.
Wellman made a return to novel-writing in the 1940s, and published several mystery novels, one a film tie-in. In 1946 Wellman won the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Award over William Faulkner for his Native American detective tale “A Star For A Warrior”. Apparently Faulkner was quite upset to be placed as second fiddle to a science fiction and horror writer. Faulkner indignantly wrote to the editors of the magazine, proclaiming that he was the father of the French literary movement and the most important American writer in Europe. Wellman’s nonfiction work Rebel Boast was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Manly Wade Wellman Locked Room Novels
Find My Killer (1947)
Detective: Jackson Yates
Available only in used paperback editions.
Note: Shot to death inside a locked room!
Narrated by Jackson Yates, a former cop who’s just out of the army, now working for J. D. Thatcher, a lawyer. Richard Ealing, one of his clients, has been found in his den, derringer in hand, dead from a bullet wound into his heart, behind a locked door, key on the inside. However, he wrote a codicil to his will, shortly before his death, implying that he knew he would be murdered – and leaving $5000 to the person who finds his killer.
Manly Wade Wellman Locked Room Short Stories
Murder Among Magicians (1939)
Detective: Inspector Grinstead
Collection: Sleight of Crime, Edited by Cedric Clute & Nicholas Lewin
Available only in used hardcover editions.
Note: A deadly magician’s party!
“Secutoris, foremost stage magician and escape artist of his day, flashed white teeth between spiky beard and spiky moustaches at his guests. Full-bodied, vigorous, ungraded despite his fifty-odd years, in the flame coloured evening suit he affected, he dominated the living room of Magic Manor, his sea-girt miniature castle.
The five guests, four men and a woman, were magicians like himself – four of the the best in the profession after him. Three of the men wore formal black; the fourth wore tweeds. The slender woman wore a sheath like low-cut evening frock of lemon silk.
“If there is life after death, and if my spirit returns,” Sectors was continuing a discussion, “it will speak a word for you to recognize.”
“What word?” asked Hugh Drexel…
“I’ll say the word ‘free’….”
Unfortunately, murder was about to disrupt his plans and play havoc with this party of magicians!
A Knife Between Brothers (1947)
Detective: David Return, Indian Agency Police
Collection: The Black Lizard Big Book Of Locked Room Mysteries
Available in paperback and ebook editions.
“Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986) was a fairly well know author of horror and pulp short fiction. In a ‘A Knife Between Brothers’, David Return, a deputy of the Tsichah Agency police, is sent to resolve a dispute between two old brothers, Stone Wolf and Yellow Bird, who have divided their home and stopped speaking. However, what Return discovers is the dead body of Yellow Bird in the middle of the kitchen, and the only apparent candidate for murderer in this two man locked house is Stone Wolf – but it just doesn’t feel right! Good story, but no fair play!”