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FOX ELTON

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Full Name: Fox Elton
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Army Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Ared White
Time Span: 1929 - 1937

ABOUT THE SERIES

Fox Elton is an agent with U.S. Army Intelligence.

The activities of this interesting operative take place in the final days of world War I. While no specific dates are given to pinpoint the time, statements made show that Elton has been on duty for enough time to have earned a very good reputation at his job and since America entered the Great War in April, 1917, tacking on at least six months would place events in late 1917 or early 1918.

He holds the rank of Captain in that organization when we first meet him; said group referred initially as the Army Intelligence Service (AIS).

Our introduction to him takes place as he attends a meeting between the head of the French espionage system and the AIS chief, and Elton's boss, Colonel Rand. Elton is sitting with his "clear blue eyes with serenely calm features" as he listens to Rand rail at his opposite because that man is insisting a major German spymaster, recently put to the guillotine, was still operating a spy nest in Paris. "How do you get him back on earth after chopping off his head?" poses Rand.

Elton's presence turns out fortuitous as a code received by the French from that dead spy is shown and handed by Rand to Elton with a "you are the code expert of our official family". As we will see often in the adventures of Elton to come, he is indeed a whiz at breaking codes, often taking just a short time to do so. Decrypting cyphers is not only something Elton is more than qualified in, it is an obvious passion for him and he relishes in not only breaking a coded message but also explaining to anyone close to him (and therefore we readers) exactly how the code works and why.

Elton came to Army Intelligence on a loan from his previous employer, the Department of Justice, where he had been an operative for some time. This tacks on a tad bit of confusion as to how old Elton in for in his recorded escapades it comes across that he is still fairly young (certainly his boss Rand considers him as such) but tossing in his prior experience with the DOJ and the exact age is in question. I would place it as around the late 20s since it is near certain he graduated college, followed by the DOJ stint and now a year or so of war service during WWI.

What Elton has in the way of an outside life is never discussed; he is in the thick of fighting the Germans and has no time for anything else.

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1930
Last Appearance:1934

1 The Spy Net The Spy Net
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1930

Published in three issues of Adventure, August 1, August 15, and September 1 1930.
As per one review at the time: "The story deals with a brave young American [Fox Elton] who unravels the devious threads of a great Boche plan to storm Paris. The sex interest is supplied by a Spanish vixen and a handsome, undecipherable German girl. The former has sold herself to the Vaterland. Her chief job is to lure innocent American spys (sic) into the tolls of the German intelligence office through her unlimited supply of passion.
The book is full of intriguing and machiavellian scheming. Blood drips off every sentence. Dirty work goes on in dark alleys. All the devices of suspense and terrorism that have been developed since Walpole wrote The Castle of Otronto have been dragged in."


2 Agent B-7 Agent B-7
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1934

Published as Secret Agent B-7 in five issues of Adventure, September 1 - November 1 1930.
"Espionage mystery novel in which an American Secret agent is pitted against a German agent bent on assassination and turning the war into revolutions."

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:10
First Appearance:1929
Last Appearance:1937

Ared White started his impressive string of short stories, novelettes, and novellas in the last months of 1926, continuing until just before the start of WWII. During that time he was busy organizing the National Guard in Oregon and attending the Army's War College and receiving lengthy training at the Command and General Staff School. And getting promoted to Major General.

The range of his subject matter shows an interest in the Napoleonic Era as well as the Great War but it was the intense concern he had with the increasing threat from the new Fascist movement taking place in Europe and a reviving Germany that dominated his writing. 

The need for and the danger from espionage was his focal point for much of his output. He dallied with solo adventures of this character or that, and may have had a recurring operative for Napoleon (I have not proven it one way or the other) but once he created Captain Fox Elton, he would be drawn back to that man on many occasions.

Most of the adventures for this intrepid hero were published, fittingly, in the pages of Adventure, presented by the Ridgway company, a subsidiary of the Butterick Publishing Company. This American pulp magazine was primarily designed for male readership with tales of derring-do and thrilling escapades in a wide variety of genres and could boast stories from most of the soon-to-be giants of the industry like H. Rider Haggard, Talbot Mundy, Harold Lamb, Baroness Orczy, and Rafael Sabatini.

We know from having found copies of them that there were at least a dozen missions about Elton published, most in Adventure but several towards the end of his recorded career in Argosy.

Two of those were serialized in the magazine first but then were bound in hardback; they are mentioned above in the Book section. The other ten certain tales are detailed below.

----

There are an additional four that I strongly suspect to be Elton tales but have not proven it. They are:

The Cipher Trail, a short story in Adventure, September 15, 1929.

Spy Nest, a novella in Complete Stories, December 2, 1929.

The Prussian Spymaster, a novella in Adventure, June 15, 1930.

The Parachute Courier, a short story in Adventure, October 1933

----

There were an additional five tales published in Argosy and Adventure over the next three years which may or may not be Elton stories. By title they are obviously spy stories but the author had crafted one story (shown as #8.5 below) in the same 'universe' but which had a different operative than Elton so it is possible all/some/none of these do as well.

The Spy At Charleville, a novella in Argosy, July 21, 1934.

Spy Cargo, a novelette in Adventure, July 1, 1935.

Spy Master, a novelette in Adventure, September 1, 1935

Parachute Spy, a novelette in Adventure, January 1936.

Dungeon of Spies, a novelette in Argosy, May 23, 1936.



1 The Spy Trap The Spy Trap
novella
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1929

Published in Adventure, April 15, 1929.
Fox Elton is asked to use his expertise with breaking German coded messages to help determine whether an infamous Prussian spymaster, Baron Von Strindheim, is behind a spy ring operating in Paris, or really still dead from having been put to the guillotine some months before.
Click here to read the story.

2 The Prisoner of Vincennes The Prisoner of Vincennes
novella
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1930

Published in Adventure, March 15, 1930.
Why is the German High Command having what seems as fits about the capture of a lowly Lieutenant, named Baron Von Falkenheyn, by the Allies? The French are also quite curious as their records have no mention of any such family. Captain Fox Elton will be asked to lend a hand at learning the truth of the prisoner.
Click here to read the story.

3 Submarine Bait Submarine Bait
short story
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1931

Published in Adventure, January 15, 1931.
It truly pains Fox Elton to admit when a cipher proves unbreakable and that is the case with the latest to hit his desk. Ten days now he has pondered it. He is certain it relates to German Navy activity but that is as far as he has gotten - at least up until he learns there is someone betraying intelligence to the enemy which lets their submarines have a tremendous advantage.
Click here to read the story.

4 The Herr Kapitan The Herr Kapitan
novella
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1933

Published in two consecutive issues of Adventure, August - September, 1933.
"The ace of the Prussian secret service launches a campaign of extermination against the operative of the Allied Intelligence." "A dead man leaves his card, and Fox Elton, of the American Intelligence, prepares to pay a dangerous visit."
Click here to read the story.

5 The Phantom Muscovite The Phantom Muscovite
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1934

Published in Adventure, February, 1934.
"The best spies are never caught. Certainly it seemed Yussilov never would be, though he always struck before the very eyes of the Allied Intelligence."
Click here to read the story.

6 Under the Front Lines Under the Front Lines
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1935

Published in Adventure, February, 1935.
"A hand grenade blase in a Paris alley sends Fox Elton and Marksman McGee to a strange rendezvous in a tunnel under the trenches."
Click here to read the story.

7 Baited Cipher Baited Cipher
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1935

Published in Argosy Weekly, March 23, 1935.
The ability of German spymaster, Lieutenant Baron von Straef, to have "intrenched himself deep under the heart of Paris in defiance of French efforts to land him in their nets" proves a major interest of Captain Fox Elton, almost bordering on obsession of late.
Click here to read the story.

8 The Courier From Spa The Courier From Spa
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1935

Published in Argosy Weekly, June 15, 1935.
"Fox Elton, American secret agent, wears a Hun uniform." "Escape would be impossible with all Germany aroused and every secret agent on the alert - yet Berlin could not stop Fox Elton, master spy."
Click here to read the story.

8.5 The Spy Double The Spy Double
novella
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1936

Published in Argosy, August 15, 1936.
This is not a Fox Elton adventure but it is set in the same universe. The operative in this mission, Captain Morton Steele, also works for Colonel Rand, just as Elton does.
"Intrigue and death ride hand in hand over spy-infested war-time Holland." Morton Steele is determined to bring down a highly effective spy cell run by the German spymaster von Gorst who has been operating in the Netherlands for far too long.
Click here to read the story.

9 Zeppelin Raider Zeppelin Raider
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1935

Published in Adventure, September, 1937.
"Monsters of death ride the airways to harry war-torn London, and Fox Elton, American spy, rides on one as a German officer.
Click here to read the story.

10 The Agent From Berlin The Agent From Berlin
novelette
Written by Ared White
Copyright: 1937

Published in Adventure, December, 1937.
"A change of uniforms in a French prison - and a German spy is freed from a firing squad, and Captain Fox Elton faces one."
Click here to read the story.

MY COMMENTS

It is not at all unusual for a readership to continue to have a fascination with something as dramatic and history-setting as a major war years after the events came to an end. When you toss in the author's desire to have codes play such a major part of the plot, what better time for cipher-breaking than the Great War when learning what the enemy was about to do is so very important.

Author Ared White really was good with codes and he was very, very good at explaining them and their breaking such that the average reader would understand and not go all deer-in-the-headlights.

He was also quite good at presenting interesting support characters, especially the German enemy spymasters. They come across as stereotypes but then that is what makes them so recognizable. On the other hand, come to think of it, these depictions became stereotypes because they were used so often and this is one of those uses - so in essence, White is helping to solidify the stereotype, not play off it.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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