Hugo Oakes

Created by J. Lane Linklater
Pseudonym of Alexander William Watkins

“Have you got any money?”
“Why, no, sir, but—”
“Then get out,” said Hugo Oakes.
Hugo deals with a potential client
in “The Second Message”

When he left the pulps and turned to novels about private eye Silas Booth, Anthony Boucher suggested that Linklater was “a Grade A professional of the (Erle Stanley) Gardner school.”It wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, both Linklater and Gardner were mainstays of Detective Fiction Weekly, and a quick read of the former’s corner-cutting lawyer HUGO OAKES suggests that Linklater may have in some way inspired Gardner’s most famous creation, Perry Mason, who appeared only a few years after Oakes had more or less run his course.
Mind you, Oakes wasn’t the slick, handsome, charming defense attorney and courtroom magician Mason was. Nope, Oakes was a short, pudgy, balding middle-aged shyster in rumpled clothes, often flecked with tobacco, thanks to his habit of smoking roll-your-owns. He has few interests in life beyond the law, money and horses (in one story it’s revealed that he grew up on a farm).But he does have the gift of gab, at least when it’s called for. We’re told, in one story, that “Oakes was capable of magnificent eloquence in a court room speech, but elsewhere he talked as if he had studied English in the back room of a district police station.”

He usually manages, through a combination of legal chicanery, snappy patter and dogged investigation (he has a knack for showing up at crime scenes), to successfully defend his clients without ever setting foot in an actual courtroom.

Linklater may have been born in north London, England (according to Hubin), but he apparently lived most of his life all over the U.S., including stays in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, and worked before becoming a writer, as related in an author bio in DFW, in “offices, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and again in offices; in large cities, small towns, construction and logging camps, in green valleys and desert plains,” often as a bookkeeper.


  • “Hello, Jim!” (September 7, 1929, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Court Costs Saved” (October 5, 1929, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Wild Man from Borneo” (February 22, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Watchful Woman” (May 10, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Not One Clew” (May 24 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Crazy People Are Smart” (May 31, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Second Message” (June 28, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Seventh Green Murder” (July 26, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Lady Confesses” (August 23, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Three Old Crows” (October 18, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “A Pair of Shoes” (November 15, 1930, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Finishing Touches” (January 3, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “You Think of Thing” (February 7, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Women Always Mean Trouble” (March 28, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Arsenic in the Cocktail” (April 4, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “He Died Laughing” (July 4, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Murder Next Door” (September 5, 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Find the Silencer” (Oct 10 1931, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Second Floor Murder” (November 19, 1932, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Dead Client” (December 2, 1933, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “On the Brink” (June 2, 1934, Detective Fiction Weekly)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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