bc SEXTON BLAKE IN AUSTRALIA from the pages of Victor Colby's Golden Hours magazine.
SEXTON BLAKE IN AUSTRALIA
By (the late) Victor Colby the estate thereof Page finalised 7th November, 2010.
Originally published in the author's magazine, Golden Hours, No.1 dated March, 1960.

Scanned from the magazine 'as is' meaning you may find errors of fact. If you find typos, please let John know. Some expressions contained in this article may prove offensive to some readers; no offence is intended by CB&M; provided for the information of readers only. Page editor.

It would be rather surprising if that confirmed globetrotter, Sexton Blake, did not, at times during his world-wide investigations, find himself on the sunny shores of our own Australia. Let us examine some of the documental evidence of his visits to be found on the pages of the Union Jack, Sexton Blake Library and Sexton Blake Annual.

In that epic story of how Sexton Blake pursued his quarry twice around the world (U. J. 104 dated 1905), we are told that Blake and Tinker at one stage of the pursuit, sailed into Sydney Harbour. What kind of new land this Australia was. Tinker, we are told, could not tell, for, except where Sydney's thousand lights gleamed, it lay like something black and still in the night.

The following morning, the chase was taken up to Brisbane by train, and such was Blake’s preoccupation with the chase, he spent even less time there, taking up the chase by sea, and ending his brief encounter with Australian shores.

The next document on my file is dated 20/1/06 Union Jack 119 entitled "Sexton Blake in Australia, " and this time we find Blake, Tinker and Pedro in the small seaport town of Narragoola in Queensland having previously lost the trail of the man he sought in Sydney, and followed a slight clue to Queensland by coast steamer.

Blake studied a poster displayed in a window:

"The Glyde Gang Again.

Outrageous state of affairs in the Garrison Downs District.

Whole country terrorised. "

"Garrison Downs - eh? Just where I want to go" Blake muttered. "By jove, I thought the reign of bushrangers was over. "

Blake was warned that Cap’n Glyde ruled the roost in that area, and every station had become an armed camp.

"Good Gracious, what a terrible state of affairs,” exclaimed Sexton Blake, apparently horrified, “Who is this dreadful man?”

There followed a heart-rending account of Blake, Tinker and Pedro on the trail in tremendous heat and frightening storm and subsequent flood from which they barely emerged with their lives.

Blake continued alone, and before emerging triumphant, he was to endure forest fire, being trapped in an old mine shaft in the dark mulga scrub, and the attention, whilst there, of a seven foot Queensland mulga snake.

If Sexton Blake did not visit Australia much, perhaps the following description of his condition at one stage near the successful completion of the case could be significant!

“When six weeks later Sexton Blake staggered into the lodgings in Garrison Downs where he had left Tinker, his best friend would not have known him. As an actual fact, Tinker his devoted companion for more than three years, was almost unable to believe that the man who sank wearily into the opposite chair was really the smart detective. Blake was shrunken, shrivelled, heavily bearded and burnt almost as black as a native. He looked quite ten years older than when Tinker had seen him last.

George Hamilton Teed in U. J. 485 (25/1/13), credited Australia with producing that extremely interesting character Mademoiselle Yvonne Cartier, but although a vivid description was given of Yvonne’s Binabong sheep station in Victoria, this merely provided a background for her, as her adventures with Sexton Blake took place in various other parts of the world.

However, in U. J.528 "The Mystery of Walla Walla" (22/11/1913), Yvonne is back on a visit to her old home, Binabong Station, in the middle of a drought period, and finds the present owner, Treherne, swindled and broken through trickery with marked cards by the owner of the adjacent 'Walla Walla,' station, a rascal named Jameson.

Such injustice naturally brought out Yvonne’s greatest indignation, a determination to wrest Binabong from the scoundrel who had cheated to gain possession of it.

About this time Sexton Blake made up his mind to shelve professional duties and make a long promised trip to Australia, where he had not been for some time. He made a mental vow that nothing would induce him to touch a case until his return. For a wonder, Tinker heartily agreed with his master, and a no more idle-looking pair could have been seen around Melbourne than Sexton Blake and his assistant with their inseparable companion,. Pedro.

Fate, however, took a hand, Blake and Tinker being prevailed upon to become guests at the Campbell homestead near the Walla Walla station.

They agreed, but not before Tinker had looked out on Bourke Street and "cast a contemptuous glance at Melbourne's prehistoric trams, which seemed to cling to that rising city like an old man of the sea. "

At the Campbell homestead, the rascally Jameson, owner of the Walla station, arrived and appealed for help to find his sheep, some 2,000 head which had been mysteriously ppirited away in batches, and of which he had not been able to find the slightest trace.

As one might suppose Yvonne was behind this little stunt, and in her inimitable way, was righting the wrong done to Treherne, the owner of Binabong.

Much to Yvonne’s embarrassment, Tinker stumbled on the hidden gulley that Yvonne had used to hide the sheep, and had, perforce, to be kept captive.

Tinker escaped, and stumbled on to a hidden cache of gold, and shortly afterward plunged over the edge of an abyss and lodged in a tree top.

Meanwhile, Blake in search of Tinker, met, to his surprise the fair Yvonne. Then followed some interesting repartee, explanations, and the planning of a strategy that revealed Jameson as a cheat and a knave, and forced him to relinquish his rights to the Binabong Estate and property.

As Tinker had still not turned up, a further search was made, and a heroic rescue staged by Blake on the very face of the cliff.

Parting from Yvonne was such sweet sorrow, and for my money wholly unnecessary, but unfortunately in the end we had Yvonne stumbling blindly back to the house, and Blake, with a deep sigh and misty eyes riding slowly away, haunted by the touch of her lips and the look in her eyes!

Blake was back in the same district in a story called 'the Crest of the Flood" U. J. 706 (21/4/1917).

The scene opened with Blake paying a visit to his friend Campbell at the Panjarra sheep station. During their stay, Blake and Tinker spent much time in the saddle. Shearing was over, but the 40,000 head of sheep ranging over Panjarra's 100,000 acres was still shipping a good deal of off shears stock to the Kerang, Bendigo and Melbourne markets, and a good deal of stock work had to be done. Blake and Tinker took a constant part in these activities.

0ne evening there was an alarm, the outlet gate of the Mulla Mulla irrigation scheme had given way in a sinister fashion, all the water in the reservoir pouring down at a terrific rate. Twenty thousand acres of best flat land was in danger of being flooded, and ten thousand prize sheep in danger of destruction.

Blake was told that an owner nearer the reservoir had a million bushells of new wheat stacked on his property and it would be feet under water by now.

The problem was threefold, sink a temporary gate across the reservoir outlet, drive the sheep up to high ground, and in the case of the flooded wheat, erect temporary platforms above the flood water, and stretch the sacks along,

We are told that fresh water, when it wets wheat in sacks, causes the kernels to swell and swell until they get sticky as glue, and gradually stick together. The result is that before the water penetrates to any depth, there is a sticky shell inside the sack formed by this swollen wheat. It all depends on how long the water has been around the sacks as to what thickness this shell may be, it might be an eighth of an inch or it might go to an inch. The wheat inside this shell remains perfect. Where the danger lies in this wet wheat comes if it is left piled close together. There is danger of sweating, then, and the whole lot might be ruined. By spreading the sacks along the platform until it can be later transported to Melbourne to be cleaned, winnowed and rebagged.

Of course the failure of the outlet gate was deliberate, and was the work of Jim Potter in revenge against the wheat owner, who had ruined Potter's father back in Canada. Yvonne aided and abetted Jim Potter. Sexton Blake soon saw through the matter, and insisted on compensation, his relations with Yvonne becoming somewhat strained in the process.

In Sexton Blake Library No. 161 published about 1918 Andrew Murray wrote a story called “The Black Opal Mine,” which took Blake to Darwin and the Northern Territory.

We were told that at Darwin, the authorities after showing much patience, finally came to the conclusion that the awful collection of hovels in which the Chinese inhabitants of the town lived were pest-houses, and had to be destroyed, and the colony of yellow men removed to more suitable quarters.

Opposition was met, however, as the Chinamen apparently prefer to live in a rickety structure of beaten-out biscuit tins and clay walls than go into the better type houses supplied by the government.

The official mind had its way at last, and now there were only a few hovels in the slums left. Fire and spade have done much to remove the plague spot, and superior sanitary arrangements have cleansed the little district.

Over the door of the most pretentious looking hut that was left in the old quarter, was a Chinese sign, and below it painted in shaky English characters was the name “Chi. Fresh vegetables supplied.” '

It was this individual who observed the coming of the ship containing Blake and Tinker, and who went on in to town to meet them.

We are told that there are not many white people in that part of the Territory, indeed they do not number much more than 2,000 souls, the greater proportion of whom are government officials, patient toiling men employed on administration and departmental work.

Using information supplied by Chi, Blake & Co. set out by train for Fine Creek. Here they hired horses and took the road to Marranboy where the tin fields are situated. The road was little more than a cart track with many crossings and deviations over the Katherine River. Striking off from this road and going through scrub, they came to the police post at Roogallo. There was a small native settlement at Roogallo, and one or two rough sheds where a half-cast had opened a store. That particular district is fairly favourable for sheep rearing owing to the fact that many wells had been sunk from the stations, and the water supply was plentiful. It lay on the borders of the Macdonnell Ranges and according to the map their final destination, Orradallo, was 90 miles further on.

At dusk Blake & Co. rode out from the settlement, following the track that ran eastward. The great stretches of scrubland, with the growths of short, tough grasses, were of the typical sheep-station type, and now and again they would ride past a wire-fenced portion and catch a glimmer of a light from some distant squatter's home.

Above them glowed the wonderful southern sky and the great Cross. It seemed to Tinker as though the stars were almost near enough for him to touch by reaching up his hand.

Once a long slender creature shot out in front of them, almost under their horses' hoofs, and went off in great sweeping bounds, sending a flicker of dust up into their nostrils.

Tinker raised himself in the stirrups and sent out a whoop of delight.

“Kangaroo, guv'nor! " he called.

They heard the heavy thud thud thud of the great hind legs as the creature shot itself through the warm night.

Now and again the track lowered to a waterhole, then swung across a creek, but for the most part the track was level enough and kept close to the telegraph posts.

So through various types of Australian bush, and experiencing many adventures on the way, the Blake party continued on to its destination, and there carried out the assignment that had been entrusted to them, and were instrumental in righting a great wrong.

Union Jack 1040 dated 15/9/23, was entitled "Bail up!" and as a foreword, carried the following editor's remarks:

“The Australian bush; mysterious bushrangers; hold-up stagecoaches; adventure and detective work! These are the ingredients which make up this Sexton Blake story. Many readers -particularly Australian have asked for a yarn featuring Blake and Tinker "down under." This is it; they will enjoy it. So will everyone else who delights in a yarn of "snap" and "grip" telling about open-air life under Southern Skies.

Blake was approached by a robbed bank manager.

“I want you to go to Australia and help the police troopers of Queensland to round up Major Nemo, one of the blackest hearted, murderous, thieving bushrangers that ever made Australia sleep uncomfortably at night.”

Sexton Blake and Tinker in response to urgent pleadings journeyed to Queensland, Australia, Brisbane being his port of disembarkation.

On the stage coach trip to Futchell, the coach stopped to attend a prone figure on the track, and whilst thus engaged, a masked man on a horse, large revolver in each hand, approached unnoticed.

"Bail up! " The words came through the sultry air like the crack of a whip, and "whip" was indeed the operative word, as unnoticed by the masked man, one of the coach passengers held in his uplifted hand the stock of a prodigious whip. His hand moved ever so slightly, yet the 24 foot thong of whip awoke to life, flew with the speed of light towards the bushranger, and plucked both guns from his hands. Only by a quick spurring of his horse and making a break for the bush, did the hold-up man escape.

When out horseback riding later on in the story, an unfortunate accident robbed both Blake and Tinker of their horses. A fifteen mile hike back home through the bush seemed inevitable, when all of a sudden the Australian bush-call was heard:- "Coo-ee!" and into sight burst a blackfellow who held a spear in one hand, and a boomerang in the other. He was naked except for a pair of tattered moleskin trousers.

“You lost-feller? " he asked "Bushed? Wanta find um way back home? Which way you belonga come? “

This unexpected service provided in Australia's rough interior was as surprising as it was welcome.

Many adventures befell the Baker Street pair, with Black-tracking, hold-ups, and stockwhips well to the fore, until finally Blake disclosed that the bushranger, Major Nemo, was in reality, a sub-inspector of the Queensland Mounted Police who had actually gone through the motions of assisting Blake in running himself to earth!

We are told that neither Blake nor Tinker waited in Australia longer than was necessary to finish their case. They had not the time.

Union Jack 1148 "The Green Rose" by G. H. Teed (l0th October 1925) commenced like this:

"Tea was being served on the wide front verandah of Binabong Homestead - Mademoiselle Yvonne's estate in Australia. Grouped about the teatable in the wire-enclosed section at one end of the verandah, were Yvonne, her uncle, John Graves, and her two guests, Mr. Sexton Blake of London, and his young assistant Tinker.

Shearing at Binabong was in full swing with mustering going on from one end of the station to the other, and the talk over the tea was naturally of fleeces, and the latest prices at the last big wool sale in Melbourne, and the rival merits of merino and cross-bred wool.

Into this cosy scene stalked the foreman of the station bearing a rose of a peculiar shade of green. He had found this rose on a bush by a pool. One rose only was green, the other three being a normal shade of pink.

The pool in question was 16 miles to the north of Binabong. Here, a peculiar formation of stone, almost a perfect crescent, rose in the form of a low hill about 100 feet high. At the base of it, in the very centre of the crescent, was the pool as dark as ink. The pool was 20 feet in diameter and unknown depth, and was thought to connect to an underground river. The water was brackish.

Beyond the hill, about 2 miles distant., was another pool, this one being off Yvonne’s property.

The natives believed that the pool on Yvonne's property was a "pool of death, " and that at times a green rose would appear on the bush growing at the pool’s edge, and would signify that the pool was about to claim a victim.

At this juncture we met Jasper Frisby, the neighbour on whose property was to be found the second pool. He had come for help, his brother having been found drowned in Yvonne's "Pool of Death”.

Blake and Tinker rode out to the pool and saw that its surface was five feet below ground level, with steep sides of perfectly smooth stone. On one side, flush with the ground was a stone slab, 18 inches by 4 feet, its length being at right angles to the pool.

Back at the station, Blake told Tinker it was reminiscent .A the ceremonial pools of Africa, the flat stone of these being able to pivot and tip the unsuspecting victim into the pool. Blake carefully examined the green rose, and chemically dissolved the green colouring matter, disclosing the normal pink of the petals. Dyed, concluded Blake, and this to confuse murder with superstition.

Tinker went back to the pool alone, lay on the slab, and examined it for the possible presence of mechanism, and unsuspecting of another’s presence, was decanted into the pool.

To his horror, an old hag, later revealed as Jasper Frisby's mother, began pushing Tinker's head under the water with a long pole, Jasper Frisby himself standing by with a gun.

Tinker dived, and did not come up. Satisfied, the evil ones returned home.

Sexton Blake, worried over Tinker’s long absence and in his subsequent search finding a feather from Tinker’s hat floating on the pool, stormed up to the Frisby's station in a great state of anger, and tried to belt the truth out of Jasper Frisby. At the crucial moment, Tinker staggered up, having emerged from the second pool after some amazing experiences in the underground river connecting the two pools.

It became evident that Jasper Frisby's so-called brother had been murdered by the evil pair so as to gain the inheritance due to him. Actually he was not a brother at all.

The evil ones met a richly deserved fate.

Union Jack 134 0 (22/6/29) “the Riddle of Ruralong Bay" by Gilbert Chester, has, as its setting, the small Australian coastal town of Ruralong, presumably somewhere north of Perth.

Chief item of interest at Ruralong was a hotel known as One-Eyed Pete's, the same being a corrugated iron shack visited by seamen from schooners and small tramp steamers.

Two men arrived from Port Hedland, near the Pilbera Gold Fields on horse back, Sexton Blake and Tinker.

It transpired that some gang had been busy smuggling Chinese into Australia, and the Australian Government had commissioned Blake to investigate.

Against a background of a skeleton chained to a ship’s steering wheel, a thrilling chase by car, a charging line of Celestials held at bay by hurled sticks of gelignite, and by the effective assistance of good old One Eyed Pete himself, the story goes at a great pace.

The surrender of the Chinese, and the arrest of the smugglers takes place in due course, One Eyed Pete explaining "Most of the Chinks are smuggled at so much a head into the Northern Territory or Queensland. Their own people who have settled there fetch 'em over. But the Government's out for a White Australia It's been keeping a pretty keen watch up there lately, so this gang shifted its quarters down here though its not so convenient for their illegal traffic. "

Thanks to Blake, Tinker and One Eyed Pete it became not only inconvenient, but downright impossible!

Sexton Blake in Australia.' A tale of Chinese smuggling in Melbourne! This was the introduction of Union Jack 1525 dated 7/1/1933 “The Call of the Dragon" by Arthur J. Palk, who, so we were told was a native-born Australian.

Against a background of Melbourne, Fitzroy, Magar Street, Russell St. Police Station, Bourke Street, and a selection of very tough characters, and expressions such as "Johns" "skirts, " If that dick comes interfering with us he'll get a bonzer dose of nickel, sister", we find Sexton Blake pitting his wits with crooks having the impressive names of Grey Goat, Larry the Rat, Kish Dolling, Skeeter Naylor, and the asiatic Qu Kong, at one time finding himself stretched on a sacrificial stone at the mercy of the executioner in the Temple of the three Dragons. But he still was able to forestall an attempt to smuggle 500 Chinese into Australia, and to expose the Police Inspector as an unscrupulous crook!

John G. Brandon was responsible for 'the Red Boomerang "S.B. L. 2nd series 493 (5/9/35).

He says of Sexton Blake "His intimate knowledge of most of the known portions of the earth, enabled him to converse fluently upon nearly every part of the great Southern Commonwealth. To Melbourne men he could talk about Bourke and Swanston Streets, Collins Street and the Block as freely as to Sydney-siders he could chat George Street or the Domain or any part of the harbour from little Rose Bay out to the surfs of Bondi and Coogee. He was no less familiar with Adelaide - the city of churches - than he was with Perth or Brisbane.

On page 62, Sexton Blake arrived in Sydney and visited the Hotel
Australia, that 'luxurious caravanserai and rendezvous of wealthy squatters and moneyed people generally”.

Blake talked familiarly of the Sydney Morning Herald, Darlinghurst, and Circular Quay.

During his stay in Sydney, Blake took a taxi to Anthony Horderns in order to shake off a possible shadower.

He entrained for Nyngan on the Cobar line, and eventually returned to Sydney.

As a result of his goings to and fro, he was able to satisfactorily solve a very serious Bank matter, and in the process to further familiarise himself with this fair land of ours.

"The Melbourne Mystery" S. B. L. 2nd series 595 (7/10/1937) also by John G.. Brandon, brings Sexton Blake and the Hon. R. S. V. P. to Melbourne in connection with the murder in England of a Lady Dalrymple, and the theft of her Burmese Rubies.

Police of the World had been alerted to watch for the appearance of any of the stones, and information came from the Australian Police to the effect that a reputable pawnbroker in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, had been offered an unusual ruby for sale. It proved to be one of the missing stones. The chase led to Melbourne's Chinese quarter.

Purvale spoke to Wibley his manservant.

“We'll nip along to Bourke Street, Wibley, that's about the Piccadilly Circus of the town. From there you can slip into the Chinese Quarter."

"Do they have lotteries and gambling places just the same as in our Limehouse? "

"Bless y'r heart yes, Wibley, exactly the same. We’ll bowl along and mark a ticket or two. That is if I can find my way to the sport from this angle; Little Bourke Street it's called. "

During his stay in the city, Blake went for a stroll with R. S. V. P. at that gate which almost faces the East Melbourne end of the Fitzroy Gardens, Blake entered that large enclosures which is perhaps better known in pictures to the greater part of the Empire than possibly any part of Australia except Sydney Harbour. In it, to the south end, and running almost up to the railway line, stands the famous M. C. C. cricket ground. "The place, " Blake remarked, "to which we come to recover 'Ashes'. "

"When we’re lucky", R. S. V. P. said tersely. "As often as not, old pip, we come out and leave them here for the time being, at any rate. "

“Now the point we’ve got to make for is in that direction, towards Richmond, " Blake remarked, pointing over a rise.

As the story proceeded honourable mention was made of such locations etc. as South Yarra, Punt Road, Prince's Bridge, Caulfield, Flinders Wharf, Swanson Street, Collingwood, Abottsford, Wilson's Promontory, Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Howe, before the scene shifted finally to Sydney.

Here, such familiar places as Sydney Heads, Watson's Point, Goat Island, Circular Quay and the Hotel Australia played their part in the concluding phase of this story, and in the successful conclusion of the case.

In the 3rd Sexton Blake Annual, published around about 1942, a story featured Blake and Tinker first in Melbourne, then in Sydney.

Dick Sherrard, a character in the story, searched the city for one Andrew McCabe, and in the process, went from the Domain to Circular Quay and through to Darling Harbour. Some vigorous action followed, and a retreat to Sydney Bridge.

After discussion of the problem with Sexton Blake, the scene moved to Blue Ridge, Queensland, where yet another case was brought to a satisfactory conclusion on Australian soil.

Stanton Hope contributed a very interesting Sydney yarn “The Mystery of the Engraved Skull" S. B. L. 3rd series 309.

Those staunch Navy friends Joe Harmon and Mike O'Flynn were much in evidence. Their naval launch was anchored in Mosman Bay under the lee of Cremorne Point. They were in Sydney on loan to the Royal Australian Navy.

They received an airmail letter from Singapore from Blake indicating that he and Tinker would arrive at Mascot Airport, Sydney, the next day.

Once again the Baker Street pair were on the trail of a stolen ruby.

On the drive from the aerodrome to the city, Blake, Tinker and the Navy Chums sped along Anzac Parade. The car swept into William Street towards King's Cross. On they went through the cosmopolitan Cross and downhill to Rushcutter’s Bay. Leaving the Navy pals here, Blake and Tinker continued on to a residence at Point Piper.

After an excellent meal at "Blue Waters, " Point Piper, Blake and Tinker having a Holden at their disposal decided on a drive round the southern-side of the harbour to Watson's Bay, thence to Coogee, but Blake wanted to go to Woolloomooloo first of all.

At the Kings Cross intersection they turned down Macleay Street towards the docks. Looking ahead, Sexton Blake recognised the slopes surmounted by the National Art Gallery that led to the Domain and Botanical Gardens.

Criminals in a following car attempted to run Blake and Tinker, and nearly succeeded, Tinker finishing up in the harbour. Having been dragged out and resuscitated, the foreman waterside worker gave a comforting grin "He'll not croak, Mr. Blake, " he assured. "Get the salt water out of his system, and a schooner of beer into it, and he’ll be as right as pie. "

Arrived back at Point Piper, Blake received a message to meet someone on the cliff half a mile south of Maroubra Beach.

Blake and Tinker obeyed the summons, and were soon trudging slowly along the narrow path leading gradually higher to the gaunt cliffs of Malabar, north-east of the Long Bay Penitentiary.

Some stirring adventures befell Blake and Tinker in this area, including the finding of a dead body, and its subsequent recovery by the Cliff Rescue Squad led by the famous Sergeant Ware to whom Sexton Blake and Tinker were introduced.

Not only did Blake succeed in recovering the missing ruby, but learnt of a skull on the harbour's floor containing secret engravings. With the help of the Navy pals, Blake recovered the skull and discovered as a result, the whereabouts of a hidden cache of gold.

"Flashpoint for Treason" by Desmond Reid, S. B. L. 3rd series 379 April 1957, commenced with the gunning down of a man in William Street near Kings Cross, then continued with a party at Kings Cross, and Tinker unconscious in an alley not far from Circular Quay.

The Sydney C. I. B. and a hotel in George Street were next featured, and then the various characters commenced to converge on the Woomera Rocket Range, where secrets of national importance were stolen.

The drama at Woomera was climaxed by an exciting incident in which Blake and Tinker, abandoned, bound hand and foot in a runaway plane.

Blake and Tinker freed themselves and crash landed the plane in the South Australian wheat belt, and raced Melbourneward through the old gold town of Bendigo, through the Mall to Kangaroo Flat, then on the undulating highway heading south to Kilmore, Gisborne, Diggers' Rest, Keilor, Broadmeadows, North Essendon then Bourke Street and Exhibition Street, Melbourne, in a frantic bid to stop the crook getting away with the secrets.

The pursuit ended with the shooting down of the crook in the middle of Collins Street, Melbourne, and the recovery from him, of the vital Rocket Range plans.

And so we come to the very latest Sexton Blake story with an Australian background. This is S. B. L. 3rd series 434 ”Showdown in Sydney” by Desmond Reid, published July 1959.

The story opens at Kings Cross, Sydney, with “Snow” Nixon staring at the racing page of the "Mirror" and waiting apprehensively for trouble.

Nor were his fears unfounded, as shortly afterwards he made an enforced trip to "The Gap, " and ably assisted by two friends whom he had double-crossed, he made the one way trip to the ragged rocks and boiling sea below.

His partner in the double-cross, had, meanwhile, met his death at the hands of a strangler at Ballarat, Victoria, his unwanted body being thrown down an old mine shaft.

Sexton Blake was at Ballarat with friends after winding up a case at Woomera. He had accepted an invitation to have ten days in Queensland and the Northern Territory on a crocodile hunt, after which he intended to return home.

However, he discovered the body while rescuing a dog from a ledge on the mine shaft, and a combination of interest and a book of matches bearing the name of a Kings Cross, Sydney, night club, took him to Sydney instead.

The story centred around plates made by the Germans during the war for the production of perfect American dollar bills. The plates had been in the possession of a collector of odd items, until recently, when one gang had stolen them, and a second gang had hijacked them from the first gang. An American was in the market for the plates, and the American economy was endangered.

Blake and Tinker took up residence at the Rex Hotel in Macleay Street, Kings Cross, and were soon on the track of the missing plates.

They visited the "Club Moana" which stood at the end of a cul-de-sac named Primrose Court, a shabby and grimy little backwater on the boundary of Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo, and put the cat amongst the pigeons.

The finding of "Snow" Nixon’s body in the bay near Bondi, caused Blake and Tinker to travel with the police by launch from Watsons Bay, through the heads and down the coast to Bondi.

Some interesting observations were made about "The Gap" before the return to the harbour.

Paula Dane had an aunt with a penthouse on a block of flats thirteen stories above the street at Edgecliffe on the north side of New South Head Road. Here the famous three; Blake, Tinker and Paula foregathered and discussed the case and made their plans.

One plan was for Paula, through the "Club Moana" to visit gang leader Benny Heidt's flat at Rose Bay, alongside the Flying Boat Base. Paula acquitted herself well on this assignment..

Fenchurch Lane, a cul-de-sac near the Woolloomooloo docks was the scone of shooting, death, and the recovery of the plates.

Using them as bait, Blake picked up the American buyer at the entrance to St. James Station, Queens Square, and having steered the car around the curve of the Park into Elizabeth Street and turned into William Street, he headed for the Rose Bay flat of the now defunct Heidt, and here the final drama was played out, with further shooting, the arrest of the remaining criminals, and the handing of the plates over to the police.

Blake was then able to give thought once again to the delayed crocodile hunting trip in sunny Queensland.

Let us hope his stay there will be productive of further adventure, and will result in yet another Australian story appearing in the pages of the Sexton Blake Library. # (March, 1960)

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