Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 20, 2022


Forgotten Tales of Love and Murder by Edgar Rice Burroughs, edited by Patrick H. Adkins (2001)

Edgar Rice Burroughs needs little introoduction.  Creator of Tarzan and one of the best-selling authors of the Twentieth century, his work ranged from fantastic adventure to planetary romance to westerns to historicals and mainstream romance.  Most of his unpublished manuscripts hve been mined and published -- Marcia of the Doorsteps, You Lucky Girl!, Minadoka, Pirate Blood, The Wizard of Venus, I Am a BarbarianTarzan:  The Lost Adventure (completed by Joe R. Lansdale), and even Brother Man, a collection of correspondence. 

 Lost in the files of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. were the author's few attempts at the non-Tarzan short story.  With the permission of Danton Burroughs, Patrick Adkins scoured those files and came up with all of Burroughs' non-Tarzan tales and a number of logic puzzles, most of which had never been published.  These are collected in this book, which was pubished by Guidry & Adkins (New Orleans) -- most likely the only book published by this imprint and never reprinted.

Burroughs was never a literary writer and on display here are all of Burroughs' fault -- the stereotyping, the coincidence theater, puerile plots, the overblown wordage, and the juvenile dialog.   But Burroughs could tell a story, hooking the reader in from the beginning and taking them to places where they wouold forget all the literary felonies he was commiting.  The pacing is fast.  The humor, albeit strained, works.  The suspense, sense of adventure, and horror are all on display.  These are very minor works, but they are a gold mine for Burroughs fans and completists.

The stories:
  •  "Jonathan's Patience" was probably written around 1904, long before Burroughs' professional work and just after his children's tale Minadoka.  Jonathon is a schemer and a con man, but he has managed to place himself in a position of importance in his work and in his church, waiting for the chance to strike it rich.  A cute and srdonic tale.
  • "The Avenger" dates from 1912.  Joseph Stone mistakenly believes his wife is cheating on hm and slays the man the thinks is responsible.  Dressing the corpse i his clothes and disfuring the ded man's face, he leaves the body to be assumed to be himself and runs off.  Later he learns the truth.
  • "For the Fool's Mother" is the author's firsst western, also dting from 1912.  A young man has a three hundred dollar stake from years of working and saving out west.  He plans to head home and buy the houose his mother has been renting for her.  Two men, a dirt-poor prospector and a tin-horn gambler are both determined to get the money.
  • "The Little Door," written in 1917 is a tale of war-time vengeance against German occupiers in France.  Gimmicky and nasty.
  • "Calling All Cars" is a convoluted crime story that has little internal logic.  A young couple are held captive by a rich man's servant who has attacked his employer.  Thinking his boss dead, the man plans to pin the crime on the couple.  His plan fails and he finds the money he has cached has been stolen and dies from the shock.
  • "Elmer" (1936) was the original story that an editor at Argosy rewrote as "The Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw."  A cave-man is unfrozen from ice and is brought to Hollywood.
  • "The Strange Adventure of Mr. Dinwiddie" has a naive man mistaken for a navy admiral who is the target of spies.  Dinwiddie's innocence boggles the imagination.  This one is from 1940.
  • "Mysogynists Preferred" takes a group of women-hating men and a group of men-hating women and places them together.  Heavy racial stereotyping, 1941-style..
  • "Uncle Bill," from 1944, is a disturbing story of a woman who has waited sixty years for her husband to return.
  • "The Red Necktie" was written around 1932 and is a standalone puzzle story.  You now,,if A is twice as old as B and half again the age of C, and if one of them has dark hair, and the one with blond hair was in the kitchen, who murdered D?  That type of thing.  The solution to this one was not found in Burroughs' papers, but the puzzle had appeared in the May 29, 1932 issue of  Rob Wagner's Script Weekly, which published the solution the following week.
  • "Murder:  A Collection of Short Murder Mystery Puzzles," from 1932-1940, features Police Inspector Muldoon, a genius who can suss out such logic puzzles easily and catche the murderer.  The stories here include "Who Murdered Mr. Thomas?," The Bank Murder," "The Terrace Drive Murder," "The Lightship Murder," "The Dark Lake Murder," "The Gang Murder," "Murder at Midnight" and "The Dupuyster Case" -- the last being an unfinished work.  Solution are given to all the puzzles and, in the case of "The Dupuyster Case," Burroughs' notes outlining the remainder of the puzzle.
Also include is a tongue-in-cheek "Autobiography"ina "Meet the Authors" piece in the June 1941 issue of Amazing Stories.

As Adkins notes in his introduction, these dated stories are little likely to enhance Burroughs' reputation as a writer.  "It's probably true that the stories possess most of the strengths and weaknesses of of Burroughs' better known works.  Still, those strengths remain impressive.  By turns witty and sardoic, gripping, suspenseful, humorous, and horrifying, these long overlooked tales are above all else highly readable, boasting the authentic voice of a master storyteller."


  1. I read a lot of Burroughs as a kid. ACE Books brought out a volume a month it seemed and I bought them all. Dated, yes. But somehow that Sense of Wonder continues to pervade ERB's work and that keeps me turning the pages!

  2. I don't remember reading Burroughs' books as a child, but I read a few of them as an adult and enjoyed them.