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AURELIUS 'SECRET SERVICE' SMITH

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Full Name: Aurelius Smith
Series Name: Secret Service Smith
Nationality: American
Organization: American Secret Service
Occupation Private Investigator

Creator: R. T. M. Scott
Time Span: 1920 - 1947

ABOUT THE SERIES

Aurelius Smith is an agent with the American Secret Service.

Well, was an agent for them, before the events of the first recorded adventure. When we are introduced to him, he has resigned from that organization because a very nasty and highly dangerous would-be anti-government villain that Smith has been pursuing has fled America and he was told to let him go. Smith refused and the only way to continue to hunt down this terrorist was to do so on his own. That  trail will take him to the other side of the world to the Indian subcontinent and eventually a new employer. For a time then we could easily write that he is an agent with the Indian Secret Service. When he decides after a time to return to America, he will choose to set up work in New York City as a private investigator.

An interesting and telling blurb in the first full-length adventure tells us that Smith is "an American who because of his ingenuity and common-sense and skill in solving difficult problems secures a position in the Secret Service of the Indian Government and after many narrow escapes returns to American to pursue the same dangerous profession. Northern or Southern India, Ceylon, the broad sea, New York alleys and the Wild West are all alike to the lean and lanky Mr. Smith as a field for the exercise of his talents, and whether it be an Indian rajah or an East-side gunman, the criminal is usually made to pay the penalty of his crime."

Of Smith's last name, the chronicler makes the rather cryptic remark upon introducing him to us: "Smith, whose very name is a useful disguise". Make of that what you will.

Most of the cases that come to challenge Smith's ingenuity and tenacity in his later years would seem standard fair for a detective though he specializes in the extremely hard ones. 'Someone stole my ...' 'Can you locate my relative who ...' 'I am being blackmailed by ...' 'I fear my life is being threatened ...' Those are the sorts of matters that will challenge him but in each instance, the manner of theft or the style of extortion or the imminence of doom will be in a manner that would prove too much for most detectives. Smith will have to rely on his exceptional skills of observation and deduction to come up with the necessary satisfactory conclusion. We are told that Smith, when not pressed for time, liked to ponder a scene slowly but "before an audience, and always when speed was necessary, he assumed a lazy nonchalance which was most deceiving to the beholder. To the onlooker, he appeared to leap to conclusions and to note vital details with an accuracy which almost appeared to come from a sixth sense".

It is his initial set of cases/adventures taking place in India, and the one that brought him to India in the first place, that fulfill the requirements for membership in this compendium. His dogged tracking of a man set on overthrowing the American government will bring about his introduction to Sir Oliver Haultain, head of the C.I.D. in India for the British Government and de facto head of the Secret Service there. Haultain will see in Smith someone who could be very useful to him and the sorts of matters he will give Smith to resolve will pit the American against both lowlifes skulking in the shadows and high-level rulers who are even more deadly. That fact that Haultain will use Smith as bait at times seems only to endear Haultain to him more as Smith does value expediency.

Along the way he will be introduced to and will gain the friendship and devotion of a very formidable Sikh named Langa Doonh. Doonh will decide he enjoys a dual role of manservant/butler to Smith when not on a case and abled assistant while one is ongoing. Even when Smith is 'fired' by Haultain so he might return to America and a new life, Doonh will decide to stay with Smith, a de facto partnership that will prove advantageous to both. When they start work in New York, his Eastern mysticism will be a matter of frequent comment and does much to enhance the allure of Smith especially when it is learned that Doonh relaxes by going into a trance. Smith, being more than a bit of a showman, does nothing to quell that fascination.

Note that while we will read numerous references by Smith to Doonh as 'boy' , especially at the beginning, we will also read Doonh call himself that when talking with Smith. Smith is truly close friends to Doonh and the two will share a lot of close calls. When Doonh makes himself known to us we learn that he and Smith had already met some time before, off-page, in Karachi, where, Doonh was hired briefly in the city as Smith's temporary servant and where "sahib save from mugger in Hub River" - said mugger being in fact a crocodile!

When Smith starts his own investigative agency back to the States, he will take on as secretary and frequently field-assistant Beatrice Asterly, an attractive and very given actress who will find use for her theatrical skills helping on the cases. At the risk of breaking the fourth wall, the chronicler wrote about the pair, "Smith does things his own way and gets into jams from which I often think I cannot escape. He nearly got married once but I asserted my authority and tore up the script. Smith has never spoken to me about that but his secretary, Beatrice, has never forgiven me. She was the girl."

Good Lines:
- Said by Smith's temporary boss in the Indian Secret Service, "Empires are built and lost amid the shadows of assassins".

BOOKS

Number of Books:8
First Appearance:1923
Last Appearance:1947

The adventures of 'Secret Service' Smith got their start in the pages of magazines, Adventure being appropriately the first to detail his cases but others like The Detective Magazine also printing a fair number.

The first book released in this series was a collection of the first 15 adventures, coming out in 1923. This was followed two years later with the first full length novel with another novel the next year. And the year after that, 1927, a second collection of earlier printed stories, several of them in magazines and apparently several in newspapers as the author himself mentioned in the foreword that they had been "previously published" by The McClure Newspaper Syndicate.

A few years would pass as Smith showed up sparingly in magazines (these stories not having found a collection) culminating in another full-length Smith adventure in 1935. The next year, 1936, a "mammoth" book dealing with Smith would come out which would combine the first two full-length adventures and some, possibly all of the short stories from the first collection.

Over a decade would pass, and an entire World War, before Scott would pen and release the final two Smith tales in 1946 and 1947, both of them full-length stories.

There is much said on the Internet about how the author, Scott, may or may not have later penned the first adventures of pulp fiction hero The Spider in 1933 for publisher Harry Steeger at Popular Publications. Rival Street and Smith Publications had a very successful series going with its The Shadow and Steeger wanted something to compete. The uncertainty comes from the fact that R.T.M. Scott had a grown son who was employed at Popular as a copy editor and was a budding writer himself and that son had the same initials as his more famous father.

So it is possible that the son wrote the first two adventures in a series which would see monthly tales told for the next ten years, and it was possible it was the more experienced father. Most sites put their money on the father.

One thing that is not so uncertain is the initial similarities of Aurelius Smith aided by his Hindu servant Doonh with the newly created Richard Wentworth and his Hindu servant Ram Singh.


1 Secret Service Smith Secret Service Smith
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1923

Subtitled Wanderings of an American Detective.
A collection of the first 15 adventures of Aurelius Smith. These tales are:
Into the East
Magic
The Towers of Silence
Find the Man
Such Bluff as Dreams Are Made Of
Hanuman, the Monkey God
The Emerald Earrings
The Rajah of Agh Buthal
Mystery Mountain
The Trap
Through the Ether
The Sealed Flask
The Killer
The Emerald Coffin
Finger Prints

2 The Black Magician The Black Magician
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1925

Initially published as a hardbound book. It was reprinted in Complete Detective Novel in 1938.
"Aurelius Smith, the ingenious American, whose exploits as an assistant to the British Secret Service in India and Ceylon gained him notoriety ... is engaged by a New York millionaire to find why and to whom his wife is paying huge sums of money for blackmail."

3 Ann's Crime Ann's Crime
aka Smith of the Secret Service
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1926

"Aurelius Smith, the well-known detective, here undertakes to discover why for nine years, Ann, an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, has shown absolute indifference to the world. This deep mystery reaches back to her Red Cross Service in France. In tracing its threads Smith finds that the murder of an Englishman in Ann's Park Avenue home vitally concerned England and that the nation-wide strike and disaster to England could be thwarted by a document in the possession of Ann's unknown lover."

4 Aurelius Smith - Detective Aurelius Smith - Detective
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

A collection of the next 12 adventures of Aurelius Smith. These tales are:
When Thieves Follow
Three Collar Buttons
Underground
Red Mike
A Drop in Temperature
His Royal Word
The Twelve Penny Black
Absolute Pitch
The Crushed Pearl
Dr. Quintail’s Case
Pete’s Tower
Kicking a Giraffe on the Nose

5 The Star of Death The Star of Death
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1928

A full-length adventure published in Complete Detective Novel Magazine, September 1928. It was never released in book form.
[plot unknown]

6 Murder Stalks The Mayor Murder Stalks The Mayor
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1935

Aurelius Smith is living in New York City and finds himself involved in a case dealing with "political corruption, racketeering, and the criminal underworld" as well as someone out to eliminate the sitting mayor of that metropolis.

6.5 Mammoth Secret Service Smith Mammoth Secret Service Smith
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1936

A reprint collection of two full-length adventures and some, possibly all of the short stories in the first printed collection. The titles of the previously published books are:
The Black Magician
Ann's Crime
Secret Service Smith

7 The Agony Column Murders The Agony Column Murders
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1946

"A severed finger - a scarab ring - an artificial eye - the return of a dead husband. These were the results of a newspaper advertisement placed by a well-meaning person who believed that people in need of help were more apt to respond to an invitation to visit a home address. And it was the address of Aurelius Smith, better known as Secret service Smith, that appeared in the ad."

8 The Nameless Ones The Nameless Ones
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1947

"It was an odd matter that brought the giant newspaper publisher to the tiny, old-fashioned house on Washington Square, home of Aurelius Smith, dauntless private detective." He wanted Smith to find out the answer to one question: Can a supernatural power force a man to do evil - against his will?

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:36
First Appearance:1920
Last Appearance:1931

1 Such Bluff as Dreams Are Made Of Such Bluff as Dreams Are Made Of
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1920

Published in Adventure, April 1920 and then in Cassell's Magazine of Fiction, July 1920.. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

2 Magic Magic
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1920

Published in Adventure, December 15 1920, then in The Illustrated Detective Magazine, September 1932. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

3 Find the Man Find the Man
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1921

Published in Adventure, September 15, 1921. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

4 The Trap The Trap
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in The Black Mask, April 1922, then in The Detective Magazine, UK October 26, 1923. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

5 Into the East Into the East
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, May 30 1922. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

6 The Towers of Silence The Towers of Silence
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, July 20 1922. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

7 Mystery Mountain Mystery Mountain
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Possibly published in Live Stories, @1922. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

8 The Emerald Earrings The Emerald Earrings
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in Leslie's Weekly, February 4 1922. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

9 The Rajah of Agh Buthal The Rajah of Agh Buthal
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in Maclean's Magazine, @1922. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

10 Through the Ether Through the Ether
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1922

Published in Action Stories, November 1922, then in Best Stories, July 1927. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

11 The Killer The Killer
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1923

Published in Midnight Mystery Stories, January 6, 1923, then in Best Stories, August 1927. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

12 The Sealed Flask The Sealed Flask
short story
aka The Menace
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1923

Published as The Menace in Midnight Mystery Stories, January 13 1923, then in Hutchingson's Mystery Stories Magazine, March 1923, and as The Sealed Flask in Best Stories, September 1927. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

13 The Emerald Coffin The Emerald Coffin
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1923

Published in Detective Tales, April/May 1923, then in The Detective Magazine, UK Nov. 23, 1923, and Best Stories, Nov. 1927. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

14 Finger Prints Finger Prints
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1923

Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

15 Hanuman, the Monkey God Hanuman, the Monkey God
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1924

Published in The Detective Magazine, January 4, 1921. Reprinted in the collection Secret Service Smith.
[plot unknown]

16 Underground Underground
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1924

Published in Action Stories, March 1924. Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

17 The Crushed Pearl The Crushed Pearl
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1926

Published in The American Magazine, January 1926. Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

18 Dr. Quintail’s Case Dr. Quintail’s Case
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1926

Published in Flynn's, April 3 1926. Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

19 Pete's Tower Pete's Tower
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Published in The American Magazine, March 1927. Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

20 A Drop in Temperature A Drop in Temperature
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

21 Absolute Pitch Absolute Pitch
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

22 His Royal Word His Royal Word
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

23 Kicking a Giraffe on the Nose Kicking a Giraffe on the Nose
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

24 Red Mike Red Mike
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

25 The Twelve Penny Black The Twelve Penny Black
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

26 Three Collar Buttons Three Collar Buttons
short story
aka 3 Collar Buttons
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Published as 3 Collar Buttons in Best Stories, October 1927. Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

27 When Thieves Follow When Thieves Follow
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Reprinted in the collection Aurelius Smith - Detective.
[plot unknown]

28 Bombay Duck Bombay Duck
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1927

Printed in Collier's, August 6, 1927 Reprinted in numerous newspapers.
[plot unknown]

29 His Last Shot His Last Shot
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1928

Published in Pioneer Tales, February 1928.
[plot unknown]

30 Senga of the Club Hibou Senga of the Club Hibou
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1929

Published in Real Detective Tales and Mystery Stories, April/May 1929.
[plot unknown]

31 The Bird-Cage Mystery The Bird-Cage Mystery
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1930

Published in Detective Book Magazine, May 1930.
[plot unknown]

32 Smith Gets an Assistant Smith Gets an Assistant
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1930

Published in Detective Classics, June 1930.
[plot unknown]

33 Tower of Doom Tower of Doom
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1930

Published in Detective Book Magazine, June 1930.
[plot unknown]

34 Settled at Sea Settled at Sea
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1930

Published in Detective Book Magazine, July 1930.
[plot unknown]

35 The Return of Secret Service Smith The Return of Secret Service Smith
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1931

Published in The Illustrated Detective Magazine, August 1931.
[plot unknown]

36 The Egyptian Necklace The Egyptian Necklace
short story
Written by R. T. M. Scott
Copyright: 1931

Published in The Illustrated Detective Magazine, September 1931.
"It was evident that she regarded herself as the reincarnation of Queen Hat-She-Put of Egypt." The retired New York Socialite Mrs. Van Apton has asked for the help of Aurelius Smith because she was certain "my life is in danger".

RADIO / AUDIO


Number of Episodes:1
First Appearance:1943
Last Appearance:1943
Network:Mutual Broadcasting

REGULAR CAST



1 Finger Prints
Episode 1-1, first aired 1943

Broadcast as a solo episode in the anthology program Murder Clinic on May 9, 1943.
Radio play of the short story of the same name.

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