Thursday 24 July 2014



The Red Right Hand - Joel Townsley Rogers

With a new introduction by Martin Edwards

There was a Little Man - Who Got Away

But how? He killed St. Erme. But what did he do with St. Erme's right hand? St. Erme had a right hand, that much is indisputable. And it must be found. These are the two most essential questions in the sinister problem that confronts me - the problem I must find an answer to before the killer strikes me down too.

With the answer to either or both of those questions the police would have the ugly red-eyed killer stopped. Meanwhile the problem had both the police and Dr. Riddle stopped...

Written in 1945, The Red Right Hand is considered by many to be a classic of the American mystery genre.

More praise for The Red Right:

“...should be reissued every 5 years forever.” - Donald E. Westlake
“A strange and terrifying story... The solution of the mystery, while perfectly logical, is not at all what one is led to expect.” - The New York Times Book Review

“What a novel! The author runs full tilt at the plot, pulling the reader along with him, and keeps going, the pace never slackening, until finally, finally, he skids to a halt at the end of the novel, leaving the reader breathless and astonished at the audacity of the conclusion.” - Christine Poulson, author of Murder Is Academic

“The Red Right Hand abides by no rules and leaves you flabbergasted as to how such a fiendish novel could ever be assembled by a sane mind.” - Cullen Gallagher, Pulp Serenade

“ eccentric and truly unforgettable book that combines complex yet unfussy prose with a weird and wonderful plot to produce a really distinctive and distinguished work.” - Tipping My Fedora

“Seriously great pulp fiction.” - Keith Rawson, The Chaos We Know and Laughing at Dead Men

I don’t really know what to say about this one TBH. I thought I knew what was going on for a fair portion of our narrative as dictated to us by Dr. Riddle. Then in a flash, I didn’t as my understanding was turned on its head.  Then I did as I read on until the end, or did I……

The only other book, I can recall that similarly stunned me was William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel.

We have a road trip that results in murder, more than one.

New York, Connecticut, Vermont, plans, road trip, car, garage owner, mechanic, inventor, investor, insurance, banks, cheques, fiancé, marriage, honeymoon, hitchhiking tramp, doctor, painter, professor, gardening, shopkeeper, mailman, police, death, blue hat, pointy teeth, breakdown, crank handle, snake, dog, Indians, brothers, picnic, woods, lake, swamp, knife, saw, professor and a red right hand……….

Ergo …….. bemusement, confusion, bewilderment and dizziness whilst simultaneously amazed, delighted and extremely satisfied, though I think I’m going to have to read it at least once more to try and get my head around it. 

5 from 5

Well worth seeking out in my opinion.

Joel Townsley Rogers wrote four novels in total, I believe. This one is the one he is best remembered for. In addition he was a prolific writer of short stories, a lot of which are science fiction. Born in Missouri in 1896, he died in Washington D.C. in 1984.

Thanks to Kjetil at 280 Steps for my copy of this. 280 Steps are a relatively new e-book publisher bringing back some out of print classics as well as giving an outlet to some original new crime fiction. Their website is here.


  1. Probably covering this one next week on the blog, so skimming for now, will look later... Not a spoiler to say it is a good book though!

    1. We're in agreement then on its merits. Looking forward to see which clothing aspects you focus on - Corkscrew perhaps?

  2. Col, for now I'll place this book on my "to be considered" pile rather than on my "to be read" pile. I already have a lot of mid-20th century books/ebooks on my list. That said, Joel Townsley Rogers is a new writer for me.

    1. Definitely worth a look if you get the chance.

  3. Col - This does sound both offbeat and very well-done. And I see we'll be getting the CiB treatment of it too. With the pair of you recommending it, I'll have to read it!

    1. Margot, different from what I'm used to reading for sure. I hoping Moira endorses it, so you have both arms twisted to try it!

  4. This is to let you know that I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award
    --- please see here for the details
    And thank you for the inspiration….

    1. Moira, thank you - you're too kind really.

  5. This author I have not heard of at all. Always willing to try an author from the 40's or 50's, so I will do that someday.

    1. I'd love to hear what you think of this one. Glen too!