Albert W. Aiken (1846-1894) was celebrated in his time as one of the most popular authors of the popular press. Throughout his adult life, Aiken maintained parallel careers as a writer of sensational fiction, and as a playwright and actor. Writing thousands of words most days, he was described by a fellow writer as able to, "grind out dime novels day after day with the steadiness of a machine." Most of Albert Aiken's stories were printed on a low grade of pulp paper in publications from Beadle and Adams. From degradation of the paper, only a handful of copies remain. Dark Lantern Tales is releasing these stories for the modern reader, adding information and respectfully editing the original text for ebooks, audiobooks, and print books.
One hundred and forty years ago in 1878, the first Joe Phenix story appeared. Barely a dozen years after the American Civil War, Joe was on the job catching the worst of the criminals while narrowly escaping with his life. Written by actor and playwright Albert W. Aiken, these stories were created for working folks and sold in weekly publications for a dime (three dollars in today’s money). This version of the Joe Phenix Detective Series is newly transcribed and specially edited for the tastes of the modern reader.
1881, New York City, and the word on the street pointed to the Wolves as the worst of the worst gangs. Their captured leader, an androgynous mastermind called Captain Molly, was sent to Sing Sing State Prison up the Hudson river, but made an astonishing escape. The frustrated police superintendent calls in private detective Joe Phenix to hunt the man down.
There was a suspicious death, a marriage proven to be a sham, a grave disturbed at midnight, and all before Detective Joe Phenix has even entered the case! Soon, in an underground New York City meeting place, an extensive criminal enterprise is revealed and infiltrated. And, the plot has only begun to unfold.
In 1878, barely a dozen years after the American Civil War, this origin story of The Joe Phenix Detective Series was published. These are very early stories about a two-fisted detective tracking down the worst miscreants in New York City. This is Historical Fiction written when it was simply...Fiction!
It is San Francisco, California in the early 1870s, and a British gentleman arrives to fulfill his dead brother’s legacy by finding his brother’s long lost child. This child would now be an adult in their twenties and if they can be found, the gentleman will award them an inheritance of Five Millions of Dollars. Of course, several parties are ready to help!
Carrying a peculiar container strapped to his belt, a man travels to New York City from the wild mining territory of Arizona. Just before he can deliver the strange piece to the recipient, he is struck down by two thugs. Joe Phenix is unexpectedly embroiled in the case and has to chase the mysterious casket and it's contents to an explosive conclusion.
A celebrity suicide turns out to be murder, the will can't be found, and the heirs are subjected to multiple extortion plots. Joe Phenix is retained and begins a long and dangerous hunt with his assistants and disguises.
Within the palatial home of the leading Wall Street “Money King,” a concealed extortionist seeks a fortune from the magnate. The police detectives can’t discover any suspects, so the obvious choice is to secretly employ the best sleuth in New York City. At his office, Joe Phenix receives an obtuse note with a very strange request.
On a dark evening in 1890, a murderer strikes in the middle of New York City’s Washington Square Park. Seemingly no one has seen the attack. Both the police investigators and private detective Joe Phenix are at a loss as to how they can proceed. However, Joe Phenix begins to get tips from a veiled woman who seems to have been mesmerized.
It is 1883, and a patrolman making his midnight rounds in New York City’s Battery Park finds a dead man in the middle of a quiet carriage-way. Looking up from his grim discovery, his startled gaze rests on a bat-like spectre the size of a man, perched on a nearby structure. So begins a pursuit that soon involves Joe Phenix, the Private Detective.