The Hairy Arm by Edgar Wallace

Edgar Wallace was very successful in his time (he wrote King Kong) but not read much today in the English speaking world. In fact the people that most often ask for him are German tourists who tell me a bunch of German movies with Klaus Kinski were made for television from Wallace’s books, ensuring his continued popularity there. I’d read a couple novels by him that didn’t move me but I was knocked out by "The Hairy Arm" (1924) a fast moving, very nutty tale leavened with tasty British circumlocution and understatement, very much like my beloved E. Phillips Oppenheim. Here’s a little piece I put together from various sentences of "The Hairy Arm":

Is your trouble of mind or body incurable? Do you hesitate on the brink of the abyss? Does your courage fail you? Write to Benefactor, Box 507.

Sir Gregory Penne was no less and no more than a slave to his appetites. Born a rich man, he had never known denial of his desires.

He was elemental; an animal invested with a brain; and yet he must be something more than that if he had held a high administrative position under the government.

Penne was sitting cross-legged on a silken divan, his eyes watching the gyrations of a native girl, as she twirled and twisted to the queer sound of native guitars played by the solemn-faced men in the darkened corner of the room. Gregory wore a suit of flaming red-colored pajamas, and his glassy gaze and brute mouth told Stella all that she wanted to know about her evil friend.


A terrible figure he was in the girl’s eyes, something unclean, obscene. The scarlet pajama jacket gave his face a demonical value, and she felt herself cringing from him. He was quick to notice the action, and his eyes glowed with the light of triumph. He looked down at her malignantly, ruffling his scanty hair in drunken perplexity. It was as though all the foulness in his mind found expression in the demoniacal grimace. "If you’re not a liar, you’re a piece of cheese!"

"The cave-man method is fairly beastly, even when the cave-man does his own kidnapping. When he sends an anthropoid ape to do his dirty work, it passes into another category."

"So that’s your line, is it? I thought you were a pal."

"You think I want a change, do you? Well, I do! I want friends who aren’t murderers."

"Say, if that woman’s disposition is sweet, the devil’s made of chocolate!"

"You’re a beast – the kind of beast you seldom meet except in books and locked rooms."

For a long time they sat looking at one another, the orang-outang and the girl.

She could have laughed at the mishap, but for the eerie loneliness of her new surroundings.

And here the floor was littered with queer white sticks. There were thousands of them, of every conceivable shape and size. They showed whitely in the gleam of the lantern in the crevices of the rocks. She stooped and picked one up, dropping it quickly with a cry of horror. They were human bones!


Michael Brixton had known many beautiful women, women in every class of society. He had known the best and the worst, he had jailed a few, and he had watched one face a French firing squad one gray, wintry morning at Vicennes.

"She was a little mad and indescribably dirty," said Michael in disgust.

As for Sir Gregory Penne, the grossness of the man and his hobbies, the sordid vulgarity of his associations, were more than a little sickening.

And only by adopting toward him the attitude which the enthusiastic naturalist employs in his dealings with snakes was Michael able to get a grip on himself.

Within reach of his hand was his heavy-caliber Browning. A move on the old man’s part and he would lie maimed on the ground. Michael was dealing with a homicidal maniac of the most dangerous type, and he would not hesitate to shoot.

Michael’s jaw dropped. "Moses!" he gasped. "I am the villain!"

Michael had an insane desire to kiss the raw skin, but restrained himself.

The shriek of a man half crazy with fear is not nice to hear.

About ubu507

memory documentation and manipulation
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1 Response to The Hairy Arm by Edgar Wallace

  1. Stella says:

    I have always depended on glassy gazes of strangers

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