Best 1913 Adventures (6)
February 23, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1913 adventure novels. Happy 105th anniversary!
Earl Derr Biggers’s semi-comical thriller Seven Keys to Baldpate.
William Magee, a dime-store novelist who hopes that solitude will allow him to produce a great work of literature, acquires what he thinks is the only key to Baldpate, a New Jersey mountaintop resort that’s closed for the winter. Which may sound like the set-up of The Shining, but in fact this is an apophenic adventure. Six uninvited guests — a hermit, a peroxide blonde, a disgraced college professor, a political op, a bald-headed gangster, and a high-society dame — show up at the resort, each of whom tells Magee a far-fetched tale about who they are and why they’ve come. Magee finds himself caught up in a fast-paced plot, complete with witty repartee, that’s more far-fetched than his own stories. Is everyone involved in a crime caper of some kind? What are they up to?
Fun facts: Before Earl Derr Biggers invented his famous detective character Charlie Chan, this was his most popular book. It was adapted by George M. Cohan as a hit play, then several times as a movie; the 1935 version written by Cohan is the best-known of these.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.