Created by Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott, Sr.
Given that his first name was AURELIUS, it’s probably no wonder that publishers usually opted for the zippier SECRET SERVICE SMITH monicker.
Created by Canadian pulp writer R.T.M. Scott, Smith was his first great creation. Smith appeared in numerous short stories and novellas in the 1920s, and was generally considered to be the basis for the later creation of the character of Richard Wentworth, the secret identity of pulp superhero The Spider whom Maitland was also credited with creating (although it has been theorized by some pulp historians that the first two Spider novellas may have been written by Maitland’s son, who also signed his work R.T.M. Scott).
But I digress…
When we first meet Smith, he’s in dogged pursuit (at his own expense) of a criminal who poses a threat to national security. The trail takes him to colonial India, where he finally nabs his prey, and draws the attention of Sir Oliver Haultain, head of the Criminal Intelligence Department of India, who offers Smith a job. He accepts, and in the bargain ends up with a faithful Hindu manservant, the knife-wielding Langa Doonh, who serves as butler, accomplice and sidekick throughout most of his adventures. A crack shot with a penchant for disguises, a surprising athleticism and plenty of derring do (“Quick! To the top of the moving train!”), Smith was an instant hit and enjoyed an almost thirty-year run.
It’s in the capacity of government agent that he appears in most of the early pulp stories, but eventually Smith is “fired” by Sir Oliver and strikes out on his own, where he sets up shop as a private detective in New York City, most definitely in the Sherlockian mode (complete with pipe!). Besides the ever-faithful Doonh, he’s acquired a stenographer and sometime-assistant, the lovely and supremely clever Bernice Asterly, whose thespian skills often come in handy.
Most of the cases take place in New York, although in one case they end up in Los Angeles, and in “His Royal Word” Smith, Bernice and Doonh find themselves in Canada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott, Senior was born in Woodstock, Ontario in 1882, and was educated at Royal Military College in Canada, before becoming a marine engineer for the International Marine Signal Company in India, Burma and Ceylon for several years. He served as a Captain in World War One with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Belgium, and later settled in New York City in the 1930s, where he turned to writing.
Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott, Junior (who sometimes used the first name of Robert) was far more prolific than his father, and actually served as an editor at Popular Publications which published The Spider. His promising career, however was cut short when he was killed while serving in Holland in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps at the end of World War Two.
Although Smith enjoyed a long run in print, attempts to adapt him into other medium weren’t as successful. There may have been a radio adaptation or two (I still can’t find any actual show based on the character- just a one-shot episode in an antholgy show), but a six-film deal fell through, and a stage adaptation closed in Boston after just two weeks.
- “Such Bluff as Dreams Are Made Of” (April 1920, Adventure)
- “Magic” (December 15, 1920, Adventure)
- “Find the Man” (September 15, 1921, Adventure)
- “The Trap” (April 1922, The Black Mask; also possibly Oct. 12, 1923, The Detective Magazine)
- “Into the East” (May 30, 1922, Adventure)
- “The Towers of Silence” (July 20, 1922, Adventure)
- “Through the Eyjer” (November 1922, Action Stories)
- “The Killer” (January 6, 1923, Midnight Mystery Stories)
- “The Emerald Coffin” (April/May 1923, Detective Tales)
- “Hanuman, the Monkey God” (January 4, 1924, The Detective Magazine)
- “The Sealed Flask” (1922, Secret Service Smith)
- “Underground” (March 1924, Action Stories)
- “The Crushed Pearl” (January 1926, The American Magazine)
- “Dr. Quintail’s Case” (April 3, 1926, Flynn’s)
- “Pete’s Tower” (March 1927, The American Magazine)
- “His Royal Word” (1927, Aurelius Smith — Detective)
- “His Last Shot” (February 1928, Pioneer Tales)
- “Senga of the Club Hibou” (April/May 1929, Real Detective Tales and Mystery Stories)
- “The Bird-Cage Mystery” (May 1930, Detective Book Magazine)
- “Smith Gets an Assistant” (June 1930, Detective Classics)
- “Tower of Doom” (June 1930, Detective Book Magazine)
- “Settled at Sea” (July 1930, Detective Book Magazine)
- “The Return of Secret Service Smith” (August 1931, The Illustrated Detective Magazine)
- “The Egyptian Necklace” (September 1931, The Illustrated Detective Magazine)
- UNKNOWN DATE
- “Absolute Pitch”
- “A Drop in Temperature”
- “The Emerald Earrings”
- “Finger Prints”
- “Kicking a Giraffe on the Nose”
- “The Killer”
- “Mystery Mountain”
- “The Rajah of Agh Buthal”
- “Red Mike”
- “Three Collar Buttons”
- “The Twelve Penny Black”
- “When Thieves Follow”
- Secret Service Smith (1923)
- Aurelius Smith — Detective (1927)
- The Black Magician (1925)
- Ann’s Crime (1926)
- The Star of Death (September 1928, Complete Detective Novel Magazine)
- The Mad Monk (1931)
- Murder Stalks the Mayor (1935)
- Mammoth Secret Service Smith (1936)
- The Agony Column Murders (1946)
- The Nameless Ones (1947)
- MURDER CLINIC
- FINGER PRINTS
(May 9, 1943)
Based on a short story by R.T.M. SCOTT
Featuring SECRET SERVICE SMITH
- FINGER PRINTS