Reviews by Paul Spiring

The Vanished Millionaire

by B. Fletcher Robinson

The Vanished Millionaire: Home Magazine of Fiction, December 1904 (pp. 577-587). This fifth and penultimate episode (Chapter 6 in the book edition) is the most ‘popular’ of Bertram Fletcher Robinson’s short stories in so far that it has been republished on at least eleven occasions. There are several editions of the original tale and some of these were published under the inflationary title of The Vanished Billionaire in American publications. This episode centers upon the kidnapping of an American businessman during the execution of an important deal. Although this crime is committed upon an estate on the Hampshire Downs, the general setting is reminiscent of Dartmoor in Devon. Furthermore, like Arthur Conan Doyle’s two Dartmoor-based Sherlock Holmes stories, Silver Blaze (1892) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901), the case hinges upon a set of tracks that were made by the victim and then subsequently disturbed. Such parallels have prompted some to speculate that The Vanished Millionaire might be based upon some 'Proto-Hound’ story that was written during the collaboration between Conan Doyle and Fletcher Robinson over The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, there is, as of yet, no documentary evidence to support this theory.

Reviewed on 2010.06.19

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