Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Chapter 1: Secret Executions
This was the 14th Operator-5 novel. It was first published in May, 1935. The author was Frederick Davis, writing under the house name of Curtis Steele. Davis would go on to author another six Operator-5 novels before moving onto better paying ventures.
The chapter opens with Jimmy Christopher and his young side-kick Tim Donovan sneaking into the fictional state of New Cornwall, where Govenor Ursus Young has set himself up as a dictator. Worse, he's trying to get the nomination for the presidency, which will make him master of America. They disguise themselves as railroad tramps and slip in undetected.
How bad have things deteriorated in New Cornwall? In the first few pages, Jimmy Christopher witnesses an execution of several outstanding citizens for speaking out against the govenor. This isn't a daylight affair, the victims are herded out of a truck at night by the govenor's own "cheka" and shot after an officer reads their crimes. Jimmy is able to retreive a wallet from one of the victims after the black-clothed goons hastily bury the bodies.
Jimmy Christopher has been sent to the state to 1)find out what the govenor is planning and 2) locate his missing love interest, ace reporter Diane Elliot. Diane has made the unfortunate mistake of criticizing The Honorable Ursus Young's administration. So she's gone missing and no one will admit to knowing where she went.
Young has rammed through a special bit of legislation known as "Emergency 100" which gives him absolute power in the state. He has his authority enforced by "Health Police" who can pull anyone off the street at will.
Parrells to real-live Louisiana govenor Huey P. Long are not too subtle. As a matter of fact, Long was assasinated the following September after this novel was published. Although he never had Ursus Young's control on his state, Long was considering a run for the presidency when he was shot.
The chapter ends with Jimmy and Tim witnessing a medical doctor being shot-down in a hotel by Govenor Young's Health Police.

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