Fleming Stone

Created by Carolyn Wells


One of those exasperatingly perfect “master detectives” so popular in the early twentieth century was Carolyn Wells’ FLEMING STONE, a quiet scholarly type, fond of good books and better manners, who is invariably called in to solve some invariably “impossible” crime when all the resources of local law enforcement have failed.

Fortunately for him, Stone is one hell of a dick, what Wells herself tagged a “transcendant Detective.” He invariably cracks the case — Voila! — and then proceeds to patiently explain it all to the mere mortals (ie: the readers) gathered around.

He sees all, he knows all. Don’t it make ya just wanna kick him in the Fleming pants?

But “The Great Man” proved exceedingly popular with readers of the time, appearing in over sixty novels throughout the early half of the century — although the author’s 1918 marriage to Hadwin Houghton, heir of the Houghton-Mifflin publishing empire might have had a little something to do with the series longevity, as well.

Fleming was based in New York, but he occasionally traveled, venturing to all the hot spots where a better class of corpse could be found: Long Island, Conneticutt, Boston.

And, per the era, although he considered himself a private investigator, financial recompense was rare.

The books haven’t aged particularly well, though.


Carolyn Wells wrote over 170 books in her lifetime, and had a long and successful career that stretched over forty years. Initially she focussed on poetry and children’s fiction, but after hearing one of Anna Katherine Green’s mystery novels being read aloud in 1910 or so, she devoted herself almost exclusively to the mystery genre. She’s best known for creating Fleming Stone, but she wrote numerous other series, including one featuring Kenneth Carlisle, another New York private detective. She also wrote The Technique of the Mystery Story (1913), which is generally considered the first book on how to write crime fiction, which Bill Pronzini claims is “far more readable today than her novels.” Unfortunately, she seems to have slipped through history’s cracks, and is now almost entirely unread.



  • “(Wells’ novels) are riddled with stilted prose, weak characterizations, and flaws in logic and common sense.”
    — Bill Pronzini in 1001 Midnights


  • The Clue (1909)
  • The Gold Bag (1911)
  • A Chain of Evidence (1912)
  • The Maxwell Mystery (1913)
  • Anybody But Anne (1914)
  • The White Alley (1915)
  • The Curved Blades (1916)
  • The Mark of Cain (1917)
  • Vicky Van (1918)
  • The Diamond Pin (1919)
  • Raspberry Jam (1920)
  • The Mystery of the Sycamore (1921)
  • The Mystery Girl (1922)
  • Feathers Left Around (1923)
  • Spooky Hollow (1923)
  • The Furthest Fury (1924)
  • Prillilgirl (1924)
  • Anything But the Truth (1925)
  • The Daughter of the House (1925)
  • The Bronze Hand (1926)
  • The Red-Haired Girl (1926)
  • All at Sea (1927)
  • Where’s Emily (1927)
  • The Crime in the Crypt (1928)
  • The Tannahill Tangle (1928)
  • The Tapestry Room Murder (1929)
  • Triple Murder (1929)
  • The Doomed Five (1930)
  • The Ghosts’ High Noon (1930)
  • Horror House (1931)
  • The Umbrella Murder (1931)
  • Fuller’s Earth (1932)
  • The Roll-Top Desk Mystery (1932)
  • The Broken O (1933)
  • The Clue of the Eyelash (1933)
  • The Master Murderer (1933)
  • Eyes in the Wall (1934)
  • The Visiting Villain (1934)
  • The Beautiful Derelict (1935)
  • For Goodness’ Sake (1935)
  • The Wooden Indian (1935)
  • The Huddle (1936)
  • In the Tiger’s Cage (1936)
  • Money Musk (1936)
  • Murder in the Bookshop (1936)
  • The Mystery of the Tarn (1937)
  • The Radio Studio Murder (1937)
  • Gilt-Edged Guilt (1938)
  • The Killer (1938)
  • The Missing Link (1938)
  • Calling All Suspects (1939)
  • Crime Tears On (1939)
  • The Importance of Being Murdered (1939)
  • Crime Incarnate (1940)
  • Devil’s Work (1940)
  • Murder on Parade (1940)
  • Murder Plus (1940)
  • The Black Night Murders (1941)
  • Murder at the Casino (1941)
  • Murder Will In (1942)
  • Who Killed Caldwell? (1942)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

One thought on “Fleming Stone

  1. And typically the hero (or villain) will twist the truth to protect the potentially guilty female who he inevitably “falls in love with”.

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