Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry. The Mystery Woman (1924) 303 pp.
San Francisco private detective Jerry Boyne, head of the Banker’s Security Agency, is hired to investigate the disappearance of John Scott Sargent. Sargent, president of the Russo-Siberian syndicate—an investment group dealing with mineral lands in Asiatic Russia—supposedly set sail twelve days earlier on a ship bound for Japan. Now, it appears that he was not even on the boat, has been in hiding, and no one, not even his private secretary (a man named Price Meade), knows where he has been. Just as he is beginning his investigation, a 19-year old girl reporter named Mary “Skeet” Thornhill drags Jerry down to a waterfront hotel on an errand of “justice, and mercy.” When they arrive, the police are on the scene, and Jerry and Skeet quickly learn that there is an unidentified dead man in one of the rooms. Another hotel resident, Ramon de Paez, is being held for questioning, and a mysterious woman was seen leaving the dead man’s room shortly before his body was discovered. Then Meade’s body is then discovered in San Francisco Bay off Fisherman’s Wharf, and Jerry realizes that the solution to the mystery of Sargent’s disappearance is closely tied into the identities of both the dead hotel resident and the mystery woman. Along the way, Jerry meets and falls in love with Mimi Cesana, an Italian actress who has close ties to the case and who causes Jerry to become “particeps criminis” when he agrees to protect her even though he believes that she is the guilty party.
Setting: San Francisco
Baird & Greenwood 1618
Herron