SGAG Logo

BARNABAS HILDRETH

hildreth_barnabas_nv_tse hildreth_barnabas_nv_tcic hildreth_barnabas_nv_tboh hildreth_barnabas_nv_master hildreth_barnabas_nv_tdos hildreth_barnabas_nv_tsq hildreth_barnabas_nv_ttogj hildreth_barnabas_nv_ttp hildreth_barnabas_nv_tgl hildreth_barnabas_bk_tdos hildreth_barnabas_nv_monster hildreth_barnabas_nv_tmtl
 
Full Name: Barnabas Hildreth
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Vincent Cornier
Time Span: 1933 - 2011

ABOUT THE SERIES

Barnabas Hildreth is an agent with the British Secret Service.

He is also known to many as The Black Monk, a sobriquet which is used in the first several adventures and then apparently never again. The nickname was likely given due to his countenance on many occasions, described by one newspaper reported as: "he looked haggard, as though from fasts and long disciplines. His features seemed lit by that goblin fire one finds inherent in the matt-white flesh of woodland fungi.... A curiously unhealthy apparition altogether".

Add to that this not-so-complimentary fact that the narrator "found the fellow extraordinarily clusive [unconcerned and off the grid]. He had cat habits of an insolent sort: among them the silent adroitness of making himself scarce at a second's notice. From all I could gather, Hildreth was an utterly friendless man simply because he did not choose to admit - again like the cat - that there is much room in this wide earth for two, walking abreast". On the other hand, that same chronicler waxed positively poetic wit "The rich slow voice had a curious and passionate tenderness ...I looked down into luminous and patient brown eyes abnormally deep-set in a lean and pallid face which was almost that of a saint".

An Under Secretary of State said when inquired about Hildreth, "A chap best left alone. Hildreth's just too dangerous an enigma for most people." A Cabinet Minister commented, "An eccentric cuss if ever there was one; half-poet, half-scientist, maybe genius." Both statements were said off-the-record because as far as the Press was concerned, the government considered Hildreth as 'tabu'! With regards the department for which he works, it is said of Hildreth that he possessed "deadly acumen and dispassionate skill frightened even the Secret Service mandarins who employed him from Whitehall!"

We do not see Hildreth involved in many cases where his work would be actually associated with espionage; most of the cases that fall into his lap or is brought to him are criminal in nature. This then puts much of his work directly in the realm of the Britain's C.I.D. which over the years has learned that Hildreth is a valueable resource but one they find particularly irksome to have to make use of. This reticience is undoubtedly because Hildreth is not one of their own but instead "an officer of the Political Intelligence - otherwise the Secret Service".

The narrator of the adventures of Hildreth that we have is Geoffrey Ingram, a well respected and valued member of the Fourth Estate working for the Daily Post of London as both a reporter and, much later on, newspaper editor. To say that Ingram is on many occasions a most put-upon man by Hildreth is being mild to Hildreth and unfair to Ingram; many is the time that Ingram would be either hard at work or preparing to go to bed or packing for a vacation only to find Hildreth pop up unannounced and unbidden at his desk or front door insisting that Ingram drop everything to accompany Hildreth. Often it is to help uncover some obscure fact and more often, IMHO, to be present during a case's denouement to serve as witness to Hildreth's genius and cleverness.

Luckily for we readers and for the sake of Hildreth's ego forever in danger of overinflation, Ingram is ever ready to chide Hildreth enough to bring him back to reality once in a while - except for those times when Ingram is flabbergasted at the way Hildreth uncovers the truth and solves the latest mystery.

Good Lines:
- About a client, Hildreth tells Ingram, "He's wanting me as a first-line defense. I'm to rake his chestnuts for him". [I'm thinking this is similar to 'pulling your chestnuts out of the fire' but I could be wrong.]

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:2011
Last Appearance:2011

1 The Duel Of Shadows The Duel Of Shadows
Written by Mike Ashley (editor)
Copyright: 2011

Subtitled The Extraordinary Cases of Barnabas Hildreth, it is a collection of 10 of the 11 short stories and novelettes written about the adventures and mysteries of this detective and British Secret Service agent. The editor of this collection, Mike Ashley, includes an excellent introduction beautifully laying out the career of author Vincent Cornier and how many of these stories were rewrites of earlier tales or would themselves be rewritten later on.
These stories are:
The Stone Ear
The Brother Of Heaven
The Silver Quarrel
The Throat Of Green Jasper
The Duel Of Shadows
The Catastrophe In Clay
The Mantle That Laughed
The Space-Time Masterpiece
The Tabasheeran Pearls
The Gilt Lady
The Monster
The Masterpiece
buy from Amazon

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:12
First Appearance:1933
Last Appearance:1951

All but one of the stories listed below were collected in the book mentioned above, that book also containing a description of how some of these tales were rewrites or would be rewritten themselves. Much of the meta-information I include on each is from that book.

The dates are from that book as well though they were also verified with on {[www.philsp.com/homeville/cfi/k00380.htm|The Crime, Mystery, & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index}].


1 The Stone Ear The Stone Ear
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Sep. 1933). Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Mar. 1948). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
What killed Sir Roger as he picked up one of two identical antique glass goblets, both very expensive and dear to the retired judge, said goblet disappearing completely while the other remained intact. That is what the deceased's nephew, Barnabas Hildreth is curious to discover.

2 The Brother Of Heaven The Brother Of Heaven
novelette
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Oct. 1933). Reprinted in the anthology Best Crime Stories (1934) and later in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Mar. 1948). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
The stabbing death of the Chinese man Lek Su in a deserted riverside warehouse was unfortunate but not unheard of. What was interesting was the possessions on him, including a small pouch containing a silver token showing him to be a freemason in the society of the Brothers Of Heaven. Barnabas Hildreth is brought into the case by the C.I.D., though they had no "especial yearning for a Secret Service agent" to enter their case.

3 The Silver Quarrel The Silver Quarrel
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1933

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Nov. 1933). Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Sep. 1950). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
The famous Argrayth Treasure, dating back to the mid-17th Century remained lost because "no one had deciphered the clues to its whereabouts". Now the last of that line was dying. The doctor hearing the dying man's ranting about the large fortune secreted away comes to Barnabas Hildreth with a request that the man use his talents by solving the mystery.

4 The Throat Of Green Jasper The Throat Of Green Jasper
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1934

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Mar. 1934). Reprinted in Fifty Enthralling Stories of the Mysterious East (1937). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
"The discovery, the opening and the subsequent ransacking of the royal tomb of Setephra of Egypt were acts in secrecy and treachery. The gigantic stealth that had gone into the affair was beyond all common mention." What put the authorities in England into a tizzy was when the antiquities, valued at over £1m, reached America, they were small in number and valued at $8k. Where was the bulk of the treasure? That is the question they asked Barnabas Hildreth to answer.

5 The Duel Of Shadows The Duel Of Shadows
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1934

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Apr. 1934). Reprinted in Mystery Stories #13 (1938). Also reprinted as The Shot That Waited in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Sep. 1950, AUS - Sep. 1948) and in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (US - May 1997). Also reprinted under its original title in The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes & Impossible Mysteries (2006). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
According to the narrator, the time that elapsed from the firing of the gun to the bullet plunging into Mr. Westmacott's body was just over 220 years. That bizarre fact is what made the case so very interesting to Barnabas Hildreth.

6 The Catastrophe In Clay The Catastrophe In Clay
novelette
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1935

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Feb. 1935). Reprinted as The Smell That Killed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Dec. 1946, AUS - Nov. 1948). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

7 The Mantle That Laughed The Mantle That Laughed
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1935

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Dec. 1935) and then in Golden Fleece (Nov. 1938). Reprinted as The Cloak That Laughed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Jul. 1947, AUS - Feb. 1949). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

8 The Space-Time Masterpiece The Space-Time Masterpiece
novella
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1936

Published in The Story-teller (Apr. 1936).
A "science fiction mystery involving a series of weird visions which turn out to be a form of cinematic hologram." "Death by broken neck caused by a South American-style bolo that brings down both horse and rider."

9 The Tabasheeran Pearls The Tabasheeran Pearls
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1937

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Jan. 1937). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

10 The Gilt Lady The Gilt Lady
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1938

Published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Apr. 1938). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

11 The Monster The Monster
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1951

Published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Feb. 1951, AUS - Apr. 1951) and then in 12 Tales Of Murder (1998). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

12 The Masterpiece The Masterpiece
short story
Written by Vincent Cornier
Copyright: 1951

This is a revised version of a non-Hildreth story The Time Test originally published in Pearson's Magazine (UK - Nov. 1935). Published in The Evening Standard (Aug. 16, 1951). Reprinted as O Time, In Your Flight in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Sep. 1951, AUS - Nov. 1951, UK - Jun. 1953). Collected in the book The Duel of Shadows.
[plot unknown]

MY COMMENTS

The same short story writer who gave us the characters entered a couple entries ago also produced a dozen stories about another detective working for British Intelligence. These, like the other series' stories, are mysteries first and spy stories second but the author did try to have a good reason why Hildreth was brought into the case.

I'm a sucker for a good mystery but these tended to be science based, a specialty of the author, and my science was about as good as my athletic ability - not so good in my head and even worse in practice. But once I pretended I understood what was being said, these stories were fun.

GRADE

My Grade: B

YOUR OPINIONS

Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register
Disclaimer
SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.