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The Master Mystery

The Master Mystery by Arthur B. Reeve
By: (1880-1936)

While Harry Houdini didn’t rise to fame as a screen actor, silent film makers of the day sought to capitalize on his fame. The Master Mystery was Houdini’s first such attempt, and it was embraced by the viewing public, leading to other screen roles following.

The hero (or superhero) is Quentin Locke, scientist, agent of the U.S. Justice Department, and not surprisingly, an escape artist extraordinaire.

The Master Mystery follows agent Locke through many pitfalls, in true serial fashion, as he is tasked with uncovering a band of thugs and a peculiar metal robot (reportedly the first robot in film) with a brain, called an automaton, which has been robbing potential inventors of their patent rights.

All in good fun by today’s standards, we find our hero escaping a straightjacket, a diver’s suit, and an electric chair to name but a few, and of course winning the hand of the daughter of one of the industrialists along the way.

First Page:


Novelized by


From Scenarios by Arthur B. Reeve in Collaboration with John W. Grey and C.A. Logue

Profusely Illustrated with Photographic Reproductions Taken from the Houdini Super Serial of the Same Name. A B. A. Rolfe Production.

New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers

Published May, 1919



Peter Brent sat nervously smoking in the library of his great house, Brent Rock.

He was a man of about forty five or six a typical, shrewd business man. Something, however, was evidently on his mind, for, though he tried to conceal it, he lacked the self assurance that was habitually his before the world.

A scowl clouded his face as the door of the library was flung open and he heard voices in the hall. A tall, spare, long haired man forced his way in, crushing his soft black hat in his hands.

"I will see Mr. Brent," insisted the new comer, as he pushed past the butler. "Mr. Brent!" he cried, advancing with a wild light in his eyes... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 2 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - September 21, 2014
Subject: The Master Mystery
Certainly action packed but unfortunately lame. The story is about 10 chapters too long and becomes ridiculous. You could listen to the first 10 chaperts, pick up the last six and still get the gist of the missing chapters. Roger Melin does a great job with the narration, which is sadly wasted on this story. Definitely a plot written for a silent movie with the main character played by Houdini.

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