Monday, March 26, 2018

Teasers, Gimmicks, and Baffles; oh my!


How can you get readers addicted to the next book of a series? After they finish a book, let them immediately encounter a teaser consisting of Chapter One (or thereabouts, depending on space available) of the next title in the series. This routine began with #3, The House of Sudden Sleep, and continued through #19, The Mystery of Villa Sineste; with a hiatus of the five volumes (7 thru 11) released simultaneously in a boxed Christmas set.

How do you get readers to seek out titles they missed? Most titles contain a consecutive list of titles published thus far.


#26, The Ebony Bed Murder, contained a sealed section to isolate a portion of text in virgin condition until  the reader broke the seal, which J F Norris notes was a gimmick copied from Harper (see his Pretty Sinister Books blog for photos of the seal). The rear portion of the seal contained a promo for Spider House, the next title in the series. In my copy, only a small, jagged portion of the seal page remains bound between 158/159.

Baffle Cases

The Mystery League put together Baffle Contests in which readers are presented with a mini-mystery in the back of a regular title, and are invited to solve and submit the solution.

The Baffles ran on a 60-day cycle. The solution was planned to be divulged in the second title after the Baffle was printed, to allow time for the books to be distributed, readers to submit their entries, be judged, and results compiled for printing.

This initiative lost steam quickly. Only three Baffle Cases were presented, and only one solution.*

Here is the schedule of the Baffle Cases:

Baffle Case #1: The McCumber Murder

Baffle Case #2: The Crime at Laurel Lodge
  • Appears in #21: Murder in the French Room
  • As for the solution*, there is only this brief mention on the dust jacket flap of #23, The False Purple: "Due to the extreme length of Mr. Horler's tale, the Baffle Case planned for this month [#4] has been omitted and the results of the contests regarding The Crime at Laurel Lodge individually sent [to] all contestants."
Baffle Case #3: The Alexander Mystery
  • Appears in #22: The Bungalow on the Roof
  • As for the solution, there is only this brief mention on the dust jacket flap of #24, Two and Two Make Twenty Two: "The results of the Baffle Case, The Alexander Mystery, have individually been sent to all contestants submitting solutions." This was the last mention of Baffle Cases in the series. 

* Other sources mention the solution to #2 was provided, but I don't know where. Please comment below if you know anything about where it may have shown up.

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