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The Master Mystery

John W. Grey and Arthur B. Reeve

Book Overview: 

While Harry Houdini didn’t rise to fame as a screen actor, silent film makers of the day sought to capitalize on his fame. The Master Mystery was Houdini’s first such attempt, and it was embraced by the viewing public, leading to other screen roles following.

The hero (or superhero) is Quentin Locke, scientist, agent of the U.S. Justice Department, and not surprisingly, an escape artist extraordinaire.

The Master Mystery follows agent Locke through many pitfalls, in true serial fashion, as he is tasked with uncovering a band of thugs and a peculiar metal robot (reportedly the first robot in film) with a brain, called an automaton, which has been robbing potential inventors of their patent rights.

All in good fun by today’s standards, we find our hero escaping a straightjacket, a diver’s suit, and an electric chair to name but a few, and of course winning the hand of the daughter of one of the industrialists along the way.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The throat-straps pressed against the neck muscles and the strain on the straps could be heard like pistol-shots as the leather stretched under his prodigous efforts.

With every nerve keyed up and his reflexes answering his keen brain, he swayed backward and forward, rolled from side to side until his shoulder-blades were thrown completely out of joint. The pain was intense, but he summoned every ounce of strength at his command and finally succeeded in getting one of his arms free by gradually working his body toward a settee, where, with his elbow on the seat, he pushed his disjointed arm over his head.

Agony was written all over his face as at last with a final effort he extricated his arms and was in a position to loosen the straps which bound them, with his teeth.

Nor was his labor over now. The canvas jacket cut into his flesh and the buckles bruised his muscles. His body ac. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Corny,but enjoyable

Detective Quentin Locke is part Superman part Harry Houdini in this fun mystery. The story reminds me of the Saturday serials that once were shown on the movie screens each Saturday and the cliff hangers heard on radio long ago and can still be heard on Old Time Radio podcasts. Heard from the Lib...more

In classic adventure style, 'The master mystery' introduces the reader to detective Quentin Locke who investigates a cartel protected by a robot called the Automaton and the members of which use a gaseous weapon called Madagascar madness. The Houdini styled Locke, is capable of getting himself fr...more