NEWTON MOORE

 
Full Name: Newton Moore
Nationality: British
Organization: Secret Service Fund
Occupation Agent

Creator: Fred M. White
Time Span: 1900 - 1900
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Newton Moore is an agent with the British Secret Service Fund.
       Exactly why the department is called a "fund" is not mentioned but looking up the definition of the word shows that it can mean something "saved or made available for a particular purpose", in this case espionage. It also could mean a "large stock or supply of something" as in a "fund of information". Either explanation would fit and together they make sense as well.
       This intelligence organization works out of the Foreign Office and its personnel have considerable authority throughout the country and have responsibility for many things happening outside the borders. It is directed by the austere Sir Gresham.
       In addition to being the best operative the group has, Moore is a novelist with a good deal of success, his books being known not only in England but also throughout Europe. His ability to pen interesting stories has worked against him, though, as he is said to be a man "cursed with a vivid imagination, and unseen terrors always unmanned him." In fact, in a passage in the first recorded adventure, "he had described himself as a coward, who was a hero in spite of himself. His imagination magnified the unseen danger, but the same fine inventiveness taught him the right moment to strike." As time passes and other missions are told, his "cowardness" is largely forgotten though he does retain a healthy discretion.
       He is a slight man with a retreating hairline leaving a pronounced widow's peak and he routinely wears a pince-nez. He is shown in illustrations in the magazine to have a very narrow pointed chin and a sharp thin nose. Clean shaven, his sideburns reach the top of his earlobes. The actual tales say little about his looks, though.
       The success that Moore has had as a novelist and possibly an inheritance allows him to live rather well. He has a nice set of apartments in London and has a manservant named Painter who is an ex-sergeant in Scotland Yard's CID. The latter does not get involved much, however, in Moore's cloak and dagger escapades.
       Moore boasts he knows "all the little bands of scoundrels who are on this game" as well as "quite au faut with every foreign ruffian in England." His inventiveness comes in handy on several occasions and his gift for planning is well known. "The fox had a dozen ways of escape from the hounds, and fell into their jaws at last. The cat had one avenue and escaped by it. Moore's method must be like that of the cat." it is said in one passage.

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:1900
Last Appearance:1900

       One reference I found on the web indicated there might have been a collection of these stories published back in 1900 but the best source and the definitive expert of such publications, Al Hubin's incredibly good CRIME FICTION IV does not list that book so I would tend to doubt its existence.
       The website www.batteredbox.com mentions a release of these stories in a collection edited by Douglas G. Greene. While it lists an ISBN, I could find no reference to a copy. I do believe, however, that it does exist.
       The copy I found was an ebook version on Amazon.

1 The Romance of the Secret Service Fund The Romance of the Secret Service Fund
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

A collection of six short stories published in the Pearson Magazine in 1900. The stories are:
By Woman's Wit
The Mazaroff Rifle
In the Express
The Almedi Concession
The Other Side of the Chess-Board
Three of Them

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:6
First Appearance:1900
Last Appearance:1900

1 By Woman's Wit By Woman's Wit
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 1, July 1900.
The Secret Service Fund is asked to help preserve the rule of the country of Contigua by its leader, Prince Boris, but Russia was using disaffection by some to stir up a revolution so they could step in and annex the province. Newton Moore is sent to pull off the mission, well aware that the three previous agents had all been murdered.
First story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

2 The Mazaroff Rifle The Mazaroff Rifle
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 2, Aug 1900.
An Englishman with the Russian name of Mazaroff has invented a fantastic rifle but before it can to into production, the prototype is stolen - apparently by the inventor.
Second story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

3 In The Express In The Express
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 3, Sep. 1900.
One of the greatest spies in Europe was Mefer and he, invariably unbeatable, had gotten his hands on a set of plans crucial to England. Newton Moore's job is to convince him to give them up with no real leverage and while on an express train.
Third story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

4 The Almedi Concession The Almedi Concession
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 4, Oct. 1900.
The leader of a small principality in the Indian subcontinent made a deal with a British company. Then the men bringing the payment were ambushed and killed. The leader then made a new deal with the Russians. Newton Moore is tasked with getting the leader, now visiting London, to play nice.
Fourth story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

5 The Other Side Of The Chess-Board The Other Side Of The Chess-Board
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 5, Nov. 1900. It is the Prime Minister himself who asks for the help of Newton Moore. The current ambassador to Asturia, a man of impeccable reputation and success, has been failing of late in his attempts to broker a treaty and it is suspected he might be a traitor. Moore is sent undercover as his new secretary to find the truth.
Fifth story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

6 Three Of Them Three Of Them
Written by Fred M. White
Copyright: 1900

First published in Pearson Magazine v 4, no 5, Dec. 1900.
One of the Permanent Under-Secretaries at the Foreign Office is found murdered in his office late at night as he was drafting a document for dispatch. The case is shunted from Scotland Yard to Newton Moore by the Foreign Secretary with the orders to get the document back at all costs.
Sixth and last story in the collection The Romance of the Secret Service Fund

MY COMMENTS

       Before I get started, I want to make mention of one line in the last story where Newton Moore comments on his pay to someone in France to keep an eye on a chap named Charet. "$2500 a day is a pretty stiff figure to pay for the privilege of perusing the correspondence of Charet." The author was British. The publication was British. The facsimile that Google made available of the actual issue the story was in is clear enough to see a dollar sign, albeit one with two lines in it. Curious why in that currency when it was paid by a British citizen to a French one, although I did notice that the magazine was published in both the UK and US. More interesting to me, though, was that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of inflation from 1900 to today would have that $2500 worth $67,500. A day? I want that job.

       Now on to the series itself.
       I was intrigued from the beginning with the notion presented by the author that the protagonist, Newton Moore, was no "man without fear". In the books and dime novels and story pamphlets of the day, so many books about characters in different walks of life getting involved with all sorts of adventures do so with wild abandon. They almost gleefully charge into battle.
       Moore is no fearless champion. He has fear. He suffers from nerves when thinking of what might happen to him should things go wrong and being an author with a vivid imagination, he always can envision the bad stuff.
       And yet! He goes ahead, with trepidation, despite his fears because he also has incredible confidence in himself. And, truth be told, he does enjoy it.

       I give this series a very high score because:
a) it is a pretty good read. Fast and descriptive and interesting at all times. and
b) it is one of the very, very first true series and thus strongly deserving of not being forgotten or ignored.

GRADE

My Grade: A

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