Title: The Doctor Who Held Hands (Madame Storey #4)
Author: Hulbert Footner
First published in 1929
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
I had great fun reading four books this week for the challenge. I read my first Dashiell Hammett and Josephine Tey. 🙂 I also ended up more books to my TBR but let’s not talk about that… the story of every booklover’s life, eh. 😉
I discovered Hulbert Footner’s books this month. Curious to try a new series featuring female sleuth, I decided to give the first book a try. I absolutely loved the main character – Madame Rosika Storey – and her secretary/side-kick Bella.
Mistress of deduction and disguise, Madame Storey is America’s answer to Sherlock Holmes.
The Doctor Who Held Hands is the fourth book in Hulbert Footner’s Madame Storey series. Madame Storey is a psychologist and works as a private detective – usually takes cases related to women. Madame Rosika Storey receives an anonymous letter stating someone close to the writer (of the letter) was cheated by a psychologist named Dr. Jacmer Touchon. The writer promises to pay $50,000 to Madame Storey for putting Dr. Touchon behind bars. He’s even sent her an advance payment of $5,000. He states in his letter that The Duane National Bank will act as his disbursing agent and there is no limit on expenses in connection with the case.
“This scoundrel calls himself a “psycho-synthetist” or “soul-builder” and seeks his victims among well-to-do women. Psycho-synthesis, examined coldly, appears to be a blend of all the fakes one ever heard of, but the doctor is an extraordinary plausible and persuasive practitioner. He appears to posses a really superior mind, which renders him, of course, all the more dangerous.”
Madame Storey asks Bella to go to Dr. Touchon disguised a prospective patient. Bella goes all right, but at the end of her first session, Dr. Touchon says she need not come again – she’s been found out. Meanwhile, a detective named Basil Thorne is keeping an eye on the doctor. One fine day, Madame Storey receives a message from a man named Fay and he says he’s ready to reveal it all about Dr. Touchon. But it so happens that Dr. Touchon pays Madame Storey a visit at the same time that Fay was supposed to meet her.
There’s a man hiding behind the curtains in Madame Storey’s main room. As soon as Fay enters the room, the man behind the curtains shoots him. Dr. Touchon, shoots the man behind the curtain. Hearing the commotion, many people from the street appear in Madame Storey’s quarters. The police are called in and Dr. Touchon puts on a show, wanting to help the detective and close the case.
Madame Storey knows its all an act. She and Dr. Touchon go way back – he was her master in psychology. So it’s not going to be easy to bring down the very teacher who taught Madame Rosika Storey about the human mind.
As the story proceeds, we see Dr. Touchon playing his game – and winning. When one of the crooks from Madame Storey’s previous case confesses to the shooting, Madame Storey announces to the press that the guilty is charged and behind bars so she has nothing to fear. Soon, the clients start to cancel, people look at Madame Storey with disgust and it seems like Madame Storey’s career is coming to an end.
Dr. Touchon seems to be basking in his glory – and makes his advances toward Madame Storey. The media gets a sniff of the juicy gossip and people assume Rosika Storey will, one day, marry Dr. Touchon. But this is all a game… and Madame Storey wants to bring Dr. Touchon to justice and make sure he’s imprisoned for the crimes he committed.
“Wouldn’t you like to read what is on these cards!” his eyes said. “Watch me feed this precious evidence to the flames while you are helpless! From the beginning you have been helpless against me. You knew I was a blackmailer but with all your cleverness you couldn’t catch me. Before your very eyes I committed murder and you couldn’t bring it home to me. Instead of that, I covered you publicly with ridicule. Now, having made my pile, I renounce crime, and still you are helpless. I burn the evidence and you will never catch me. In me you have met your master!”
The story began on an interesting note, fell flat half way through, and picked up pace at the end. The cat and mouse game (between Dr. Touchon and Madame Rosika Storey) kept me on my toes. It did feel like a bit of a drag half way through but the ending was totally worth it. Bella is afraid for her and her employer’s life – especially when they are followed, warned and threatened. There comes a time when their lives are at stake – it’s a ticking bomb and they know they will be killed. They will be safe only when Dr. Touchon is behind bars. And that isn’t easy, as Dr. Touchon is always a step ahead.
If you are new to Hulbert Footner’s Madame Storey series, I recommend you to start with Madame Storey. Each book in this series can be read as a standalone but do know that there is a mention or two of Rosika Storey’s previous cases.