The Peculiar Novels of Harry Keeler

Photo of Riddle of the Traveling Skull cover.
Image via the Harry Stephen Keeler Society website.

Harry Keeler has been called the "Ed Wood of mystery novelists, a writer reputed to be so bad he's good." 

He wrote more than 70 strange and largely forgotten books in the first part of the twentieth century, but has achieved something of acult status more recently.

His titles include:

  • The Skull of the Waltzing Clown
  • The Man with the Magic Eardrums
  • The Case of the Transposed Legs
  • The Face of the Man from Saturn
  • The Voice of the Seven Sparrows

The library owns several volumes of Keeler's work, including the Riddle of the Traveling Skull, which opens:

For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's "Barr-Bag" which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wienerwurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2163 pearl buttons; nor of—in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderwümpel—or Suing Sophie!

If you get hooked on Keeler, an outfit called Ramble House sells reprints for $18-25 each.