helmerdyne_n_wanless_bk_bftl helmerdyne_n_wanless_nv_storyteller_aug32 helmerdyne_n_wanless_nv_storyteller_nov32
Full Name: Major Helmerdyne and Professor Wanless
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Vincent Cornier
Time Span: 1932 - 2018


Bruce Helmerdyne and Gregory Wanless are agents with British Intelligence.

Well, certainly Helmerdyne is active as an operative out in the field. Wanless, definitely connected with the organization, is more of a stay-in sort of fellow.

A bit more specifically regarding Helmerdyne, we are told that he is attached, during the period of time we follow his activities, to "His Brittanic Majesty's Intelligence Service, Political", also known as "The Secret Service departments". within  that organization he holds, or perhaps retains from military days, the rank of Major.

His senior partner in the few adventures that exists to follow, is Professor Gregory Wanless, a member in good standing with the Fellowship of the Royal Society allowing him to follow his name with the prestigious "F.R.S." This learned man prefers to do his work, comprised largely of thinking about puzzles and mysteries and coming up with plausible and likely solutions, in his "cozy chamber" with "its seried books [that] rather overawed Helmerdyne, the man of action". Wanless's accomplishments are described as being a "subtle master of intelligence work" while also being a "sometime professor of physics and reader in natural philosophy". Wanless is constantly, it seems, able to produce from his memory an amazing amount of diverse pieces of trivia and knowledge which aids him in solving the myriad of perplex conundrums that are sent his way.

The handful of adventures that exist on this pair are brought to them because other departments or agencies are flummoxed by clues that do not make sense or by events that seemingly defy belief and yet definitely did occur. Helmerdyne would be the first to admit that when it comes to understanding these events and solving these mysteries, he is very much out of his depth and is there for when the situation turns dangerous and physical action is demanded; that is where Helmerdyne is useful.

Wanless has his forte in the solving of these puzzles and the man relishes every delicious second of the investigation.


Number of Books:1
First Appearance:2018
Last Appearance:2018

1 Bodies From The Library Bodies From The Library
Written by Assorted
Copyright: 2018

An anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together 16 tales by masters of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form.
Includes Vincent Cornier's The Girdle Of Dreams.


Number of Stories:6
First Appearance:1932
Last Appearance:1933

In the introduction to a collection of stories about a different Vincent Cornier character (Barnabas Hildreth), Mike Ashley wrote how Frederic Dannay (one of the pair who were better known as Ellery Queen) considered the author of these tales to be exceptional enough to pull a number of his stories across the pond and out of obscurity a handful of tales. Dannay was especially impressed with the cleverness of the stories.

That crafting skill was being honed in this set of stories which preceded the ones that Dannay so enjoyed but they show that his skills were already pretty darned good when he wrote them.

Four of the half dozen tales were printed in The Story-Teller magazine, described in Wikipedia as "a monthly British pulp fiction magazine from 1907 to 1937" and one in which a lot of excellent budding writers got their start and more experienced authors earned a living. Cornier was one of those who came near the publication's end.

A fifth Helmerdyne & Wanless tale was published in Pearson's Magazine instead of The Story-Teller. Ashley postulated it was because the story was "a reworking" of a story in a previous series about another British Intelligence agent who solved bizarre mysteries, Richared Brantyngham. That earlier story had been published in The Story-Teller.

The sixth story shown below was apparently printed initially in several newspapers in New Zealand - if it had a magazine presence, I have not learned.

1 For Humanity's Sake For Humanity's Sake
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1932

Published in The Story-Teller, June 1932.
[plot unknown]

2 Platinum And Gold Platinum And Gold
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1932

Published in The Story-Teller, August 1932.
[plot unknown]

3 Exhibit B Exhibit B
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1932

Published in The Story-Teller, November 1932.
[plot unknown]

4 Dust Of Lions Dust Of Lions
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in Pearson's Magazine, April 1933.
Apparently "a reworking of a Brantyngham story, The Silent Sound, in which Helmerdyne and Wanless look into the murder of several different people across Europe who separately died as a result of spontaneous combustion.

5 The Nasturtium-Red Dress The Nasturtium-Red Dress
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in The Story-Teller, September 1933.
[plot unknown]

6 The Girdle Of Dreams The Girdle Of Dreams
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in various newspapers in New Zealand, December 1933. Printed in book form in the anthology Bodies From The Library.
An elderly woman approaches a cautious jewelry store owner offering to sell an antique golden girdle. He agrees but before he can complete the transaction, he goes into a fugue state and when he awakens, the woman and girdle are gone, along with a lot of gems which were in his safe.


The author, Vincent Cornier, was famous for his scientific mysteries though he often, from what others say since my scientific skills are not so great, more than a tad on the outré side. His writing, though, is not and following the amusing Professor Wanless as he goes about his business is kind of fun.

Major Helmerdyne gets the lead mention in the title of this page because he is the man actually employed by British Military Intelligence but there is no question that he is more of a sidekick to Wanless than anything else. 

Fun stories worth a read here and there, IMHO.


My Grade: B


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