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Rogers, Joel Townsley

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago
Source: The Joel Townsley Rogers Project from Ramble House, which is republishing Rogers's work and making it available to the public.

Joel Townsley Rogers (1896-1984) was an American mystery writer. He was born in Sedalia MO and married Winifred Whitehouse, an artist, in 1923. They lived in a tiny house in Georgetown where they raised their family and Joel wrote his stories. Tom’s web site is full of interesting and sincere stories about his family and I recommend it to all.

 

Ever since the U.S. Congress, in their wisdom — and obedience to the corporate thugs that share their bed — decided that copyrights on written works should extend back for longer than a normal person’s lifetime, there has been a lethargy in reviving books by the grand old authors of the 20th century. Why bother? Unless you’re one of the publishing cartels who can afford to hire detectives to track down copyrights and the grandchildren who own them—and in most cases don’t know about it—it’s not worth the cost. After all, we can’t expect people under the age of thirty to be interested in anything without special-effects graphics, and the rest of us need to save our shekels for medicine. The market for old literature is definitely a “niche” and no capitalist in his right mind would touch it.

 

But every once in a while an author is rediscovered and miraculously there is an active web site maintained by a loving son or daughter. Such is the case of Joel Townsley Rogers (1896-1984), a prolific short-story and mystery novelist. His son Tom has an excellent web site devoted to his family and I was able to converse with him without paying Jim Rockford $10,000.

 

Thanks to Tom, I was able to research his father’s novels and stories to find that he wrote five novels, Once In A Red Moon (1923), The Red Right Hand (1945), Lady With The Dice (1946), The Stopped Clock (1958) and a revision of Clock, re-titled Never Leave My Bed (1963). His short stories and articles number in the hundreds.

 

The Red Right Hand is considered Rogers’ masterpiece, and deservedly so. It’s a classic scary story told from the first-person and has been reprinted several times. Anyone interested in reliving some of the suspense and terror that the grand masters of crime fiction, like Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and John Dickson Carr wrote, must read The Red Right Hand. It’s fairly easy to find.

 

Once In A Red Moon is a long, atmospheric thriller. Never Leave My Bed is a super-sized revision of The Stopped Clock but there is a vast difference in the two versions.

 

Bibliography

 

Novels only. A complete bibliography including romance, westerns and mystery short stories can be found here.

 

Once In A Red Moon (1923)

The Red Right Hand (1945)

Lady With The Dice (1946)

The Stopped Clock (1958)

Never Leave My Bed (1963)

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