Theodore Roscoe (1906–1992)


OIPTheodore Roscoe (1906–1992) was an American biographer and writer of adventure, fantasy novels and stories. Roscoe was born in Rochester, New York, the son of missionaries. He wrote for newspapers and later pulp magazines. Roscoe’s stories appeared in pulp magazines including Argosy, Wings, Flying Stories, Far East Adventure Stories, Fight Stories, Action Stories, Adventure, and Weird Tales. Roscoe travelled widely, included trips to Haiti and North Africa. During a visit to Casablanca, Roscoe befriended a member of the French Foreign Legion. Roscoe later used this man as a model for his fictional Foreign Legion narrator, Thibaut Corday. Roscoe also wrote non-fiction for The American Weekly. Roscoe’s work was praised by H. L. Mencken in an 1929 profile in the Rochester Democrat Chronicle. Mencken said “Many of the so-called literati could learn a lot from Mr. Roscoe. He gets things down with amazing facility”. Roscoe was commissioned by the United States Naval Institute to write the detailed and massive histories United States Submarine Operations in World War II (1949) and United States Destroyer Operations in World War II (1953). He subsequently wrote several other books on naval history including The Trent Affair, November, 1861: U.S. detainment of a British ship nearly brings war with England (1972). (Source: Wikipedia and Golden Age of Detection Wiki).

Roscoe also wrote two mysteries that were mentioned in Robert Adey’s Locked Room Murders and Other Impossible Crimes (1991): Murder on the Way! a.k.a. A Grave Must Be Deep, 1935; and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936). Murder on the Way! (Dodge Publishing Company, 1935) is a rewritten version of the Argosy serial “A Grave Must Be Deep”  from 1934. Roscoe would do the same thing for Dodge Publishing when he rewrote “War Declared” from Argosy in 1935 into I’ll Grind Their Bones in 1936. (Source: Don Herron)

Jim Noy has a particular enthusiasm for the golden age detection of the 1920 to the 1950s, especially locked room mysteries and impossible crimes, and in 2017 he wrote the introductions for the reprints of impossible crime novels Murder on the Way! (1935) and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe. He blogs at The Invisible Event, where episodes of the impossible crime-focused podcast The Men Who Explain Miracles are also posted every two months. (Source: Bodies From The Library)

In the introductory chapters of Locked Room Murders and Other Impossible Crimes (1991), Robert Adey compiled a comprehensive summary of this particular sub-genre and underlines notable works from established novelists and writers whose names have dimmed in our collective recollection. One of these unnoticed, fleeting shadows from the past, whose career lays in the same negligent state as that of the crumbled remnants of a headstone, is a “seasoned wanderer” named Theodore Roscoe – who wrote part of his masterpiece, Murder on the Way! (1935), on a candle-lit cemetery near Leogane! If that doesn’t set the mood, nothing does. (TomCat @ Beneath the Stains of Time)

Further reading:

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Dodge Publishing Company (USA), 1935)

Jim Noy has a particular enthusiasm for the golden age detection of the 1920 to the 1950s, especially locked room mysteries and impossible crimes, and in 2017 he wrote the introductions for the reprints of impossible crime novels Murder on the Way! (1935) and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe. He blogs at The Invisible Event, where episodes of the impossible crime-focused podcast The Men Who Explain Miracles are also posted every two months. (Source: Bodies From The Library)

Synopsis: An ancient château in Haiti is the scene of one of the most blood-curdling series of murders in the history of the island. Who was the murderer—man, beast or some supernatural being?
An artist and his girlfriend attend her uncle’s funeral on the island of Haiti, where they encounter the deep vein of Voodoo superstition. The legend of living souls trapped in dead bodies becomes a frightening reality as they witness a Zombie resurrection. The tale, by the well-traveled pulp fiction author Theodore Roscoe, captured his sense of awe and terror surrounding such a monster in the very place that would have given rise to it. His first-hand experience during his travels in Haiti taught him of such legends and he used them effectively in Murder on the Way!
Thus, well before the Zombie came to represent today’s flesh-eating cinematic monster of lore, Roscoe’s story (published by the New York Dodge Publishing Company in 1935) unravels impossible shootings, inexplicable disappearances, and the stirrings of rebellion. These are the background elements for this most unforgettable weekend house-party in the heart of Zombie madness. (Source: Bold Venture Press and Smashwords).

Murder on the Way! has been reviewed, among others, at Beneath the Stains of Time, Murder Ahoy!  The Reader is Warned, The Green Capsule, Suddenly at his residence, and In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.

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