Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
A Complete History and Episode Log of Radio’s Most Durable Detective
By Jim Cox
In his current book, Jim Cox focuses his considerable research and writing talents on a single series that was one of his favorites when he was growing up: Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. As readers have come to expect, he has intensively and thoroughly researched his chosen subject, uncovered much new information, and written a highly entertaining and enlightening volume on radio's longest-running detective series.
The book starts with "Chronology: A Mr. Keen Almanac" which is a convenient time line for the series which provides information in an outline format including dates, days, and times of broadcasts; primary cast and crew; networks; and sponsors.
In the chapter "The Aural Sleuth: Murder and Mayhem on the Air," Jim discusses the popularity and significance of the private investigator during the Golden Age of Radio.
The origins and evolution of the Mr. Keen character are examined in the next three sections. The "Origins of a Supersleuth" covers the literary lineage of Keen in the writings of Robert W. Chambers and how Mr. Keen was adapted for radio by Frank and Anne Hummert. In Chambers writings the kindly old investigator was a matchmaker for the wealthy. The next two chapters describe how Mr. Keen evolved over time on the radio: starting as the "Tracer of Lost Persons" in 1937 and by the mid-1940's transforming into a more intense, relentless chaser of murderers.
The dictates of the Hummerts often led to unintentional humorous situations and dialog on the series and are mentioned in the chapter "Funny Business." These gaffs lead to satires on the series by the comedy team of Bob and Ray: Mr. Trace Keener Than Most Persons and Mr. Treat, Chaser of Lost Persons. These Bob and Ray sketches of the series are also addressed.
Many entertaining anecdotes about cast and crew members are included in the chapter "Hired Guns." There are also numerous biographical sketches of the writers, lead actors, directors, announcers, sound effects artists, and musicians.
The advertisers on Mr. Keen are discussed on "Sold on Radio."
Collectors will be intrigued by the Radio Episode Guide for the 1693 installments of Mr. Keen. There is plenty of factual information: the broadcast dates and times, episode numbers and titles, episode plot summaries, and so forth, but there is much more! Jim mentioned at the beginning of this section that he attempted, "to craft an expansive, engaging, and useful episode guide." I can tell you that he has definitely succeeded.
With the publication Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, Jim Cox has added another superlative volume to the body of Old-Time Radio literature.
376 pp. photographs, notes, bibliography
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Jefferson, NC 28640
Fax Order: 336-246-4403
http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php? ... 864-1738-2
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