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ASHTON-KIRK

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Full Name: Ashton-Kirk
Nationality: American
Organization: None
Occupation Private Investigator

Creator: John Thomas McIntyre
Time Span: 1910 - 1918

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Ashton-Kirk is a private investigator.
       That is as close to a job description as I could come up with. He would certainly agree with it as would many of those who have come to his door seeking his help in solving perplexing though I am not certain if he actually sought payment for his services.
       As is put in the Introduction to him in his first recorded adventure, "Ashton-Kirk, who has solved so many mysteries, is himself something of a problem even to those who know him best. Although young, wealthy, and of high social position, he is nevertheless an indefatigable worker in his chosen field. He smiles when men call him a detective. 'No; only an investigator,' he says. He has never courted notoriety; indeed, his life has been more or less secluded. However, let a man do remarkable work in any line and, as Emerson has observed, 'the world will make a beaten path to his door'.
       "Those who have found their way to Ashton-Kirk's door have been of many races and interests. Men of science have often been surprised to find him in touch with the latest discoveries, scholars searching among strange tongues and dialects, and others deep in tattered scrolls, ancient tablets and forgotten books have been his frequent visitors. But among them come many who seek his help in solving problems in crime. 'I'm more curious than some other fellows, that's all,' is the way he accounts for himself. 'If a puzzle is put in front of me I can't rest till I know the answer.' At any rate his natural bent has always been to make plain the mysterious; each well hidden step in the perpetration of a crime has always been for him an exciting lure; and to follow a thread, snarled by circumstances or by another intelligence has been, he admits, his chief delight."
       Ashton-Kirk has a fair amount of similarity to another consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. Both have the well-earned reputation as a solver of mysteries, the more bizarre and arcane the better. Both get involved in cases which puts them in competition with the police, though Ashton-Kirk seems to have a slightly better opinion of the constabulary than the other. Both are true masters of disguise and seem to relish any need to open the stage makeup case and don a new persona.
       Being apparently quite wealthy and thus having no need to actually seek regular work or payment for his services, Ashton-Kirk is free to pick and choose his cases. Boredom being something he despises, though, he would likely not turn down any challenge that comes along.
       Assisting Ashton-Kirk in his varied investigations is Fuller, described as a "brisk, boyish looking young man". Fuller is not only a good researcher, he is also [my opinion here] in charge of a host of other investigators and fact-checkers that he calls upon regularly to gather the large amount of data on various things which Ashton-Kirk asks for. Exactly how many of these other hands Ashton-Kirk has at the ready in unknown but there seems to be a good number of them, which is good because invariably Ashton-Kirk wants "complete information and I want it quickly".


       Ashton-Kirk's membership in this compendium comes about mostly from one recorded adventure but that one does imply on several occasions how Ashton-Kirk has on numerous times acted on behalf of his country handling "several affairs in which the United States government found the investigator's unusual powers of inestimable service. In such matters, tremendous interests often stand dangerously balanced and the most delicate touch is required if they are not to be sent toppling".
       As he puts it, "When a crisis arises between two of the giant modern nations, with their vast armies, their swift fleets, their dreadful engines of war, the hands which control their affairs must be steady, secret, and sure. Otherwise an unthinkable horror might be brought about." To assist in such matters, "Experience, steady courage, and sure talent are required in dealing with such things; and these qualities Ashton-Kirk possesses in abundance. To be sure, the departments of the government have the 'Secret Service' at their hand; but the specialist is called in when the general practitioner is at a loss, and he is as much a part of the structure as his regularly employed colleague."


     By the way, if you noticed there was no mention of a first name for Ashton-Kirk, it is because I found in none of the pages of his four recorded adventures any reference to one.

BOOKS

Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1910
Last Appearance:1918

1 Ashton-Kirk, Investigator Ashton-Kirk, Investigator
Written by John Thomas McIntyre
Copyright: 1910

The murder of a well known antiques dealer and famed numismatist [coin collector] was made sensational by the use of a bayonet as the weapon. A young man who owned said item is being charged with the deed but his distraught fiancee is certain he is innocent. She appeals to an old family friend for help and he turns to his young fellow club member, Ashton-Kirk, to assist.
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2 Ashton-Kirk, Secret Agent Ashton-Kirk, Secret Agent
Written by John Thomas McIntyre
Copyright: 1912

Philip Warwick is an ordinary looking man with an ordinary life but he brings to Ashton-Kirk a mystery that will put that investigator a most challenging case. Warwick talks about a friend of his, young Stella Corbin, who is the niece of a well-known and very outspoken inventor and 'scientific anarchist' who she fears is about to be murdered. Add in the strange happenings Warwick mentions taking place round the threatened man's house and Ashton-Kirk is certain foreign agents are at work.
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3 Ashton-Kirk, Special Detective Ashton-Kirk, Special Detective
Written by John Thomas McIntyre
Copyright: 1914

According to the blurb: "Bat Scanlon, two-handed fighter and trainer, is worried. He visits an old friend in his big country house, and runs into some queer things he cannot explain - the thunder that rumbles over the hills when skies are clear - the harp that is played without sound, enemies without - and a traitor within the house. Bat calls on Ashton-Kirk, who has solved some strange mysteries, and a special detective comes to grapple with the terror."
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4 Ashton-Kirk, Criminologist Ashton-Kirk, Criminologist
Written by John Thomas McIntyre
Copyright: 1918

Lamenting that "the age of great criminals has passed", Ashton-Kirk is bored and longs for something to whet his wits. It comes a few minutes after saying that in the form of Nora Cavanaugh, friend to a friend, who is in terrible trouble and danger after the murder of prominent man-about-town, Tom Burton. "Who held the old-fashioned brass candlestick that struck down "the Bounder"--and set mystery a-throbbing in the quiet suburb of Stanwick? Bat Scanlon, athletic trainer and good sport, found a clue in the dark hotel office where the little Swiss sharpened his murderous knife. But it was Ashton-Kirk who discovered the part a beautiful woman played in the drama."
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MY COMMENTS

     For some time I pondered whether to add to this compendium the adventures of Ashton-Kirk, my hesitation coming because only one of the four tales deal directly with spies and foreign intrigue and that seemed not enough to warrant inclusion.

     At last I decided to go for it because I saw in several listings of spy series his name and figured why not join the crowd.
     Ashton-Kirk is considered by most to be a Sherlock Holmes wannabe and there is a whole lot to that. The similarities are striking. The author was smart enough to put in plenty of differences but the comparisons are justified.
     I enjoyed what I read but the tales do tend to go on longer than they should. The author might have been served better to have shortened the stories like Doyle did.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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