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Volume 6409

A Collection of Short
Murder Mystery Puzzles

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Between 1932 and 1940, Burroughs experimented with a new type of fictional writing: murder mystery puzzles. He wrote nine of these puzzles which ended with "whodunit" questions for the reader to solve.  They varied in length from three to twelve pages.

Four of these nine murder mystery puzzles were published in SCRIPT, a Beverly Hills magazine owned, published, and edited by Rob Wagner, a good friend of ERB. His puzzles featured Inspector Muldoon, master detective and mathematical genius and they were narrated by Muldoon's "friend" ERB who was invited to each murder scene.

The puzzles involve brief scenes in which all the murder suspects are gathered in one place, and Muldoon's only function is to cross-examine them until he discovers the guilty party. There is no action, and the murderer is revealed through the minor clues found in the individuals' replies. Burroughs did not intend these puzzles to be actual stories and his concept of a puzzle without characterization, plot, or suspense, and with the solutions based upon trivial points were not very successful, but four of them were published in SCRIPT  This was a Beverly Hills magazine owned, published, and edited by Rob Wagner, a good friend of ERB.

Ed eventually collated these puzzles, hoping to have the collection published. He even wrote a foreword for the collection.  The project wasn't successful and the puzzles languished unpublished in the ERB, Inc. office safe. Danton Burroughs eventually shared many of these for release on our early ERB Website pages.

Around that time they even saw limited book release in Forgotten Tales of Love and Murder edited by Burroughs fans Guidry and Adkins. Then in 2019 Muldoon's mystery exploits were given new life in a series of Sunday Comic Page-type adaptations issued on line in the ERB, Inc. series of ERB Comics. The INSPECTOR MULDOON adaptations were written by Charles Santino with illustrations by Karl Commendador and included in ERB, Inc.'s subscription package along with about 20 other ERB titles.

These puzzles, many of which I keyed in for Web viewing,
are scattered all through the giant ERBzine Archives.
I've collated them here along with ERB's introduction.

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
I have known Inspector Muldoon for more than twenty years. When I first met him he was a flat-foot pounding a beat -- a great big, good-natured, Irish cop; and he was a good cop. His promotion was rapid.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Muldoon is the fact that he was a child prodigy who turned his remarkable  ability to some practical use. He was a mathematical genius. At nine, he could mentally multiply numbers of six or seven digits, or extract square or cube root, almost instantaneously. He still can, and in addition to this he has a most uncanny memory. 

His technique in solving crimes is usually based on his ability to carry a complicated array of figures in his mind and to correlate them instantly and accurately, but he is equally adept in sifting other evidence. 

HIs questioning of suspects is such as to throw them entirely off their guard, as they cannot dream that a question concerning the age of Aunt Matilda when little Junior was born could possibly have any bearing on the guilt or innocence of a suspect, especially in view of the fact that Aunt Matilda is wintering a thousand miles from the scene of the crime and little Junior had passed on ten years before. 

I have been with Muldoon during many of his investigations; and have selected a few examples at random for this little book, thinking that the many puzzle addicts of the country might find it amusing, as well as mentally stimulating, to discover how quickly they can solve the several mysteries. The solutions will be found in the appendix. 

(Editor's Note: In our ERBzine edition the solutions are found at the bottom of each puzzle's Webpage)


1. The Terrace Drive Murder : Written October 8, 1932 for SCRIPT

2. Who Murdered Mr. Thomas? Written in 1932 for SCRIPT

3. The Lightship Murder: Written October 26, 1935 for SCRIPT

4. Bank Murder

5. The Dark Lake Murder

6. The Gang Murder
Written in either November 6, 1935 or June 1940

7. Murder At Midnight

Two Murder Mysteries not included in ERB's proposed collection  are

8. The Dupuyster Case September 17, 1932
Left partially unfinished but released in ERBzine 7056

9. The Red Necktie published in SCRIPT
This mystery is of a different format

 ERB and the Press Series: Magazine Articles
Lost Words of ERB

Tarzan's Papa Likes Us
Rob Wagner's Script ~ December 5, 1931
Letter by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dear Rob:
Once again I should like to tell you how much I enjoy THE SCRIPT, particularly your editorials; then there is Mrs. Jack Vallely's "Book Stuff." Anyone who can make book reviews entertaining is an artist. One of the finest pieces of writing I have read in a long time is "Memories Aroused On Armistice Day" in your November 7 issue, while the Nobel prize in satire should be awarded your reply to the gentleman who loves his mistress only below the Tehachapi. If you and Harry Carr should stop writing, the world would be, for me, a far less interesting place in which to live.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

How Old Seduction?
Rob Wagner's Script ~ January 28, 1933
By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dear Sir:
You ask what your readers think of the five-year sentence for a man who was convicted of seduction of a girl, or a woman I should say, of twenty-three years of age. Well, I'd like to ask what is the age of consent in these here United States? "Seduction" -- nuts!
Indignantly yours,

It Mighta Been a Calla Lily
Rob Wagner's Script ~ February 17, 1934

Dear Rob:
You certainly rate an orchid for carrying the magazine through the last three or four years. If it hadn't been SCRIPT, I doubt if it could have been done.

Edgar Rice Burroughs
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Rob Wagner's Script ~ February 17, 1934

So SCRIPT is five years old and having a birthday. Birthday! How the memories pile up with each succeeding birthday, and what a long and interesting vista they form for some of us, stretching back so far into the past, as they do. How many changes we have seen!

I am not the youngest person in the world, but I am not a long way from being the oldest. I can remember when SCRIPT was born, and with equal vividness I can remember when telephones were not considered a necessity and only plutocrats had them in their homes. I can recall when gas was the sole illumination of cities, and kerosene the lighting medium of rural districts. When I was no long a boy, the majority of business letters were written in long-hand and copies were made in an iron letter-press with a steering wheel on top.

When the gas mantle was invented, we thought that it was the last word in illumination. I saw these replaced by incandescent bulbs.

It would almost seem that the progress of civilization was dependent upon light. It would be interesting to trace the parallel from the camp fire onward to the cresset, the taper, the candle, and the successive improvements in illumination to the present day. One might almost believe that each advance let more light shine into the recesses of the human brain that had, for countless ages, been groping in darkness.

I have witnessed the birth of many things -- the internal combustion engine, the automobile, the aeroplane, radio. But of all these changes and advancements the most significant, I believe, is exemplified in the success of SCRIPT.

Not so many years ago SCRIPT would have been banned as sacrilegious and obscene. That it is not banned today suggests that we are becoming more honest, less hypocritical, that bigotry is giving way to a fair open-mindedness that permits tolerance of views, customs, and manners that differ from our own.

Much of this new tolerance must be credited to magazines such as SCRIPT, beneath whose joyous presentation lies a convincing sincerity.

And so, good luck and best wishes on your fifth anniversary!

~ Edgar Rice Burroughs

Karl Commendador: Art ~ Charles Santino: Script

One of 20 ERB Story Adaptations in
The Edgar Rice Burroughs Comics Strips Project

Read them all now for

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