Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The One Best Bet - Samuel Hopkins Adams

Theme for the Week: Queen’s Quorum Titles

Story: The One Best Bet
Author: Samuel Hopkins Adams
Source: Average Jones (Queen’s Quorum #48), available at Project Gutenberg here.

Story Number: 39
A.V. R. E. Jones, nicknamed Average Jones, has taken up the hobby of following up queer advertisements in the daily newspapers. On this occasion, he gets to investigate it even before it hits the newspaper. A man walks into the newspaper office and requests the editor to remove the last line in a particular add which was to run in the next day’s newspaper. The editor sends him away saying that it’s too late to do anything about it. When Jones follows him fifteen minutes later, he finds him to have committed suicide. When Jones and the editor decide to investigate the concerned ad, they realize that it’s an announcement to assassinate the Governor during a rally which was to be held on the same day. A politician who is objecting to the Governor’s bill is the mastermind behind the plan.
The next half of the story involves Average Jones figuring out how the gang is gone carry out this execution. He visits the scene where the rally is gone culminate, investigates the surrounding shops and notices that there is a bullet hole in the glass window of one of the shops with the bullet making its entry at an awkward angle. He figures out where the bullet must have been deflected from to pierce this glass window and from this point, applying various Euclid’s theorems, he arrives at the vantage position from where an assassin can take a potshot at the Governor during the rally. He then puts in a few advertisements in the newspaper and uses them to scare away the assassins and bait the mastermind.


  1. An excellent collection that is so strange and wonderful and very funny. Someone should reprint the entire book. I like "The B Flat Trombone," "Pinpricks," "Red Dots," and "The Man Who Spoke Latin" for the sheer weirdness of the plots. That these stories were written at the turn of the 20th centruy is even more remarkable to me. Fantastical detective stories were rare then. Several of the tales in this collection almost seem like outright parodies of the gerne. So many of the writers of this period were into dogged police work or trying to emulate the Holmesian inductive detection that few of them ever matched Hopkins' ingenuity or sense of humor.

    1. I'm halfway through this collection and it indeed looks fresh in the sense that it is so unlike some of the other contributors of that era!