The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In the introduction to this short-story collection, August Derleth indicates that the seventeen stories that constitute Mr. George and Other Odd Persons were written in one month, one each evening between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Twelve of the stories originally appeared in Weird Tales magazine, which, because it already had a sufficient number of Derleth’s tales awaiting publication, accepted them under his pseudonym, Stephen Grendon. All the stories involve murders and some element of the supernatural, whether the ritual sacrifice of a child on Walpurgis Eve, as in “The Night Train to Lost Valley,” or the death of a murderer through the agency of the murdered man’s shoes, as in “Dead Man’s Shoes.”

Many of the tales involve children in jeopardy who are somehow saved through ghostly intervention. In the opening story, “Mr. George,” innocent Priscilla is protected from her late mother’s cousins through the efforts of the ghost of Mr. George. As each of the cousins attempts to murder Priscilla for her inheritance, Mr. George foils the plan and eliminates the would-be murderer. First, Mr. George kills Laban by slamming the heavy lid of a trunk on his neck at the moment that Laban is about to entice Priscilla to climb into the case and be locked away in the attic. Next, he saves her from being struck by a heavy swing and directs it at Adelaide, who had set up the...

(The entire section is 518 words.)