- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Off-Trail Publications; First Edition edition (March 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935031082
- ISBN-13: 978-1935031086
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,701,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Grottos of Chinatown: The Dorus Noel Stories First Edition Edition
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This collection is put out by Off-Trail Publications. In addition to the Dorus Noel stories, we get a great introduction on Arthur J. Burks and Dell's All-Detective Magazine, which is where these stories appeared. The indepth introduction adds a great deal of value to this volume. The artwork from the stories are also included. Dorus was never a cover feature of the magazine, but a few covers are shown in the introduction.
The series ran for a total of 11 short stories in All-Detective, from 1933-34. All-Detective was an interesting, if short-lived magazine. It ran several other series, including the tail end of the Major Lacy/Amusement, Inc series (see my early posting on this one) and the Nib Holloway series that introduced the first Doctor Death. All-Detective would be replaced by a Doctor Death magazine, with the new version of that character.
Dorus Noel is a secret agent for the police, located in Chinatown. We learn that he had lived previously in China, and understands the culture. He was recruited by someone (we never learn who, other then he is located on Park Avenue), and only contacts that person by phone. No other policeman knows that Dorus is a police agent.
In the first story, we met Dorus and learned that while in China, he opposed a sinister leader known as Chu Chul, The Cricket. Chu Chul is almost a Fu Manchu like character. He is thought dead, but returns in the first story to plague Dorus. He appears to be killed in that story.
In the second story, Dorus is then threatened by "The White Wasp", who is Chu Chul's daughter. But for some reason, the daughter does not kill Dorus, and leaves the country.
In the third story, Chu Chul returns, and Dorus kills him, only to discover that it was just an actor and Chu Chul is still alive. Sadly, Chu Chul does not return in any of the further stories. In each, Dorus goes up against a different Chinese mastermind.
The work that Dorus Noel does is very dangerous, as he is often loosing his Chinese "houseboy" in most stories. Its unfortunate that Chu Chul never returns. You wonder if this character was fully the idea of Burks or his editors.
Tom Johnson has written a further Dorus Noel story, that brings back both Chu Chul and The White Wasp, and puts a finale on the story. It can be found in Echoes 30, published by Altus Press.
If you like detective stories that are unusual, and are a fan of Fu Manchu like characters, check this series out. You won't be disappointed.
This volume collects the eleven Dorus Noel stories from the pulp, All Detective Magazine (1933-34). Also included is extensive new information on All Detective and the fascinating career of pulp-writer Arthur J. Burks by John Locke.
Burks' stories are short, with little time to truly examine the characters, but they are presented with clear images of evil. Fu Manchu like masterminds, with insidious murder inventions, including mysterious poisons and venom, along with unimaginable death traps. All Detective aimed at the short story, with strong villains and heroes, and endings with a twist. The author was a retired Army Lt/Col from WWI who had traveled extensively in the Far East, and brought his knowledge of the East to the stories with him.
Dorus Noel works for a mysterious "Chief", whom he has never seen. He does know the police commissioner, but none of the police know he is an undercover agent. However, all of Chinatown knows who Dorus Noel is, and though most respect him, the oriental villains fear and hate him. In each story someone is out to kill him before they start their insidious crime wave.
A great read, and thoroughly enjoyable.