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The Drums of Jeopardy

The Drums of Jeopardy by Harold MacGrath
By: (1871-1932)

The Drums of Jeopardy is a 1920 American novel by Harold MacGrath. The story was serialized by the The Saturday Evening Post beginning in January of 1920.
In 1922 the book was made into a Broadway play and the following year a motion picture. A second film version appeared in 1931.
It is said that a young Boris Karloff, who previously had a few uncredited film roles, chose his stage name for his first screen credit in 1920 from a Russian mad scientist character named “Boris Karlov” in this novel. The name “Boris Karlov” was used from MacGrath’s book for the 1922 Broadway play, but by 1923 with actor Boris Karloff using the similar sounding variation, the film version renamed the character, played by Wallace Beery, “Gregor Karlov.” In the 1931 film version, however, with Warner Oland playing the character, the mad scientist’s name is restored to “Boris Karlov,” less than a year before Frankenstein would make Boris Karloff a household word for generations. Ironically, Boris Karloff would play many mad scientists on screen, but never “Boris Karlov.”

First Page:


By Harold MacGrath


A fast train drew into Albany, on the New York Central, from the West. It was three thirty of a chill March morning in the first year of peace. A pall of fog lay over the world so heavy that it beaded the face and hands and deposited a fairy diamond dust upon wool. The station lights had the visibility of stars, and like the stars were without refulgence a pale golden aureola, perhaps three feet in diameter, and beyond, nothing. The few passengers who alighted and the train itself had the same nebulosity of drab fish in a dim aquarium.

Among the passengers to detrain was a man in a long black coat. The high collar was up. The man wore a derby hat, well down upon his head, after the English mode. An English kitbag, battered and scarred, swung heavily from his hand. He immediately strode for the station wall and stood with his back to it. He was almost invisible. He remained motionless until the other detrained passengers swam past, until the red tail lights of the last coach vanished into the deeps; then he rushed for the exit to the street... Continue reading book >>

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