Richard and Grace Duvall

Created by Arnold Fredericks (pseudonym of Frederic Arnold Kummer, 1873-1943)

"Good Lord, Chief, am I losing my senses? What is this affair, anyway, a joke?"

-- Richard, sharp as a tack as always, in The Blue Lights

An early sleuthing couple, preceded only in thre genre as far as I can tell, by M. McDonnell Bodkin's Paul Beck & Dora Myrl, Arnold Frederick's RICHARD AND GRACE DUVALL were known as "The Honeymoon Detectives," and appeared in several serialized novels between 1912 and 1917.

In the aptly titled "The Honeymoon Detectives," the five-part serial which made its debut in the March 23, 1912 edition of The Cavalier, we meet "gifted" young hotshot New York private detective Richard whose reputation is good enough that he's recently been summoned to France to work as an assistant to Monsieur Lefevre, the Paris Prefect of Police.

Whatever.

But it's while he's in the City of lights that he hooks up with young, beautiful American heiress Grace Ellicott, the victim of a conspiracy to cheat her out of her inheritance, masterminded by her evil step-uncle, Count D'Este.

Fortunately love (and detective work) conquer all, and there's a lovely wedding at the conclusion, but as The Ivory Snuff Box, the second novel, begins, exactly one hour later, before the marriage can even be consummated, Richard is sent by Lefevre to London to recover a stolen snuff box. The fate of France may lie in his hands! Quel horreur!

Meanwhile, Grace has checked herself into an asylum!

But even better? It's all part of a plan!

And so it goes. As would prove to be the formula for the rest of their adventures, Richard and Grace dash off in different directions, rarely working together, but end up working the same cases from different angles. He relies more on logic and reason (yeah, right) and she on -- what else? -- intuition. Not that she's a bimbo, mind you. She may lack any formal training as a detective, but she's both clever and curious, and more than willing to help out hubby on a case, whether he wants her help or not.

Pulp historian Robert Samson has a lot of fun in his wonderful Yesterday's Faces, Volume 4: The Solvers (1987) at the outlandish plots and forced contrivances of the series, and slamming its "prose as bland as unsweetened farina." Evil masterminds, torture chambers, dubious disguises, secret codes, improbable coincidences, outlandish clues and comic misunderstandings, not to mention assorted faintings and swoonings among various female characters, abound. There's even a killer monkey in a red silk suit!

After a blow-by-blow account of ther entire series, Sampson concludes that "thousands of similar stories" filled the fiction magazines of the day, and that "they deserve neither condemnation nor memory."

But this was, nonetheless, a rather important series, simply by virtue of the fact that Grace, once married, didn't vanish from the plots or serve as a mere sounding board for hubby. In each adventure, both she and Richard shared the spotlight more or less equally. And, to tell the truth, for all of Richard's "gifts" and her flying leaps of deduction, Grace seemed the smarter of the two, and arguably the better detective, cracking most of the cases herself while he often came off as just a wee bit dense.

Still, as their good friend M. Lefevre points out at the end of one of their cases,

"The credit belongs equally to both. And that, my children, is as it should be. This affair, so happily terminated, has taught me one important lesson. It is this: The husband and the wife should never be in opposition to each other. They must work together always, not only in matters of this sort, but in all the affairs of life... Hereafter, should Monsieur Duvall and his wife serve me, it must be together, or not at all."

SERIALS & SHORT STORIES

  • "The Honeymoon Detectives" (March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 20, 1912, The Cavalier)
  • "The Changing Lights" ( January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 1913, ) The Cavalier
  • "The Little Fortune" (August 9, 16, 23, 30, 1913, The Cavalier)
  • "The Mysterious Goddess" (April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 1915, All-Story Cavalier Weekly)
  • "The Film of Fear" (March 24, April 7, 14, 1917, All-Story Weekly)

NOVELS

  • One Million Francs (1912; previously serialized as "The Honeymoon Detectives")
  • The Ivory Snuff Box (1912)

Originally published in its entirety in the May 11, 1912 issue of The Cavalier.

  • The Blue Lights (1915; previously serialized as "The Changing Lights")
  • The Little Fortune" (1915; previously serialized)
  • The Film of Fear (1917; previously serialized)

FILMS

  • THE IVORY SNUFF BOX
    (1915, William A. Brady Picture Plays)
    Black & white
    Silent
    Based on the novel by Arnold Fredericks (aka "Frederic Arnold Kummer")
    Screenplay by E. Magnus Ingleton
    Directed by Maurice Tourneur
    Starring Holbrook Blinn as Richard Duvall
    and Alma Belwin as Grace Ellicott
    Also starring Norman Trevor, Robert Cummings
  • ONE MILLION DOLLARS
    (1915, MGM)
    Black & white
    Silent
    Based on the novel "One Million Francs" by Arnold Fredericks (aka "Frederic Arnold Kummer")
    Screenplay by George D. Proctor
    Directed by John W. Noble
    Starring William Faversham as Richard Duvall
    and Carlotta De Felice as Grace Elliott
    Also starring Henri Bergman, George LeGuere, Mayme Kelso, Arthur Morrison, Charles Graham

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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