"I Love A Mystery" 

Assorted Episodes Fragments


Alas, as mentioned previously, much of Carlton E. Morse's radio shows, including "I Love A Mystery" are no longer circulating. The original discs have been either destroyed or sequestered in some OTR treasure trove. In addition, most of the ILAM scripts for the shows are archived away in distant library archives, thus generally out of reading reach for most ILAM-ophiles at this time. So what can an avid fan of ILAM do to appease the hunger for further shows?

This is where the ILAM fragments can help out fans starved for more shows. By fragments, I mean the double handful of solitary or nearly so individual ILAM chapters, for which the vast majority of the story is incomplete or lost. Many of these shows were either transcribed off the air at the time of the original broadcast (as in the case of the partially complete story THE HERMIT OF SAN FELIPE ATABAPO) or have been copied from those few ILAM ETs that still circulating.

It's both quite fascinating and frustrating listening to these tantalizing ILAM tid-bits. You are suddenly thrown into a story where Jack, Doc and Reggie are confronted with danger and murder from all sides in medea res. The grisly discovery of headless cats, a galloping chase in the back country of Inyo California, lonely chapels with dead swans hanging to ringing bell ropes, gangsters impersonating vampires; these and other deadly excitements can be found in the ILAM fragments.

As the amputated pieces of now lost or uncirculating shows, they give us a glimpse in Carlton E. Morse's boundless imagination. While great to listen to on their own, there's also a certain wistful sadness, of never knowing quite how the stories end up. 

They are also a strong reminder of the tragedy that these shows only exist in the memories of radio listeners fortunate enough to listen to the original broadcasts of the 1940s and 1950s.

I'll try to give a thumbnail sketch of some of the fragments in my possession. I've only done a few at this time, but will add further snippets as time permits.


The Case of the Roxy Mob

Episode 3 of 14

The boys are cooling their heels in the Roxy City Jail, after just having recently re-united after their adventures in Japanese occupied Manchuria. Escaping from a police dragnet (for some unspecified reason) in a battered jalopy, they get a flat tire near the northern Californian coastal town of Roxy. While repairing the tire, the are suddenly required to play Galahad, and rescue a young girl stalked by a gunman. Unfortunately, despite saving the girl (who has fainted), the police roll in and grab the three comrades.

This we learn in the narrated prologue. Jack is taken from the cell, and has a decidedly curious interview with, of all people, the Mayor of Roxy. Jack learns that the three are being held as suspects in the murder of a young man at a night spot near where their jalopy broke down. The murdered man had been the date of the young girl they had supposedly attacked (or rescued, from the boys point of view). Jack is surprised to learn that the rescued girl is Phyllis Gordon, daughter to the Mayor! Even stranger, is the fact that the "gunman" was in fact supposed to be Phyllis Gordon's bodyguard!

The Snake With the Diamond Eyes

Episode 2 of 13 (first 5:01 only)

Alas, we only have part of the prologue of this story, which Carlton E. Morse apparently reworked into the "Adventures By Morse" serial, THE COBRA KING STRIKES BACK.

In the few seconds that are present of this truncated episode, we learn that the boys are on their way by clipper air-ship to South-East Asia, joining the Hanley archeological expedition deep into the Cambodian jungles. Their goal, a mystic relic called the Cobra God, a golden statue of a snake with diamond eyes whose bearer is conferred both occult and political powers. Lost for many centuries, its rediscovery could trigger revolution and chaos. Sinister forces are resorting to incredible lengths to thwart the leaders of the expedition, Dr. Hanley. In the brief narration, a native fanatic commits suicide in front of the expedition leaders and our three heroes in an delaying tactic, attempting to tie them up with the police. Jack, Doc and Reggie instead convince Hanley to simply hide the body for now, and head off into adventure. And there the snippet abruptly ends.

Episode #11 of 13, June 13, 1940

I'd like to thank Jim Farst for granting me permission to include here the synopsis for the recently discovered SNAKE fragment, found in the radio archives of WVRO. Since Jim has done such a good job, I've left the synopsis unchanged, save for formatting issues.

First Ten (or so) Words:

Announcer: "Five o'clock in the heat of the afternoon with the elephant train deep in the French Indo-China jungles in the province of Lao, somewhere in the eastern border of Siam".

Sound: Elephant boys yelling commands to the elephants and sounds of elephants moving through the jungle.

Doc: "I ain't never been so sick of nothing as I am in ridin' this durn elephant".


Susan Wells was kidnapped three days ago and a message was left on the edge of a cliff in Sanskrit saying she was called to the Ancient Ones and would not be harmed and that she would be returned today at the "Lake Of Floating Islands". As today's story opens, Jack, Doc and Reggie along with Mr. Hanley, the backer of the expedition to find the Cobra God Idol, are riding elephants on their way to the lake. Jack explains to Doc that the "Lake Of Floating Islands" is actually hundreds of tiny islands that are shaped a lot like champagne glasses due to their bases being eroded away by the lapping water. They decide to camp at the edge of the lake for the night and have to cross a swamp to reach the higher ground at the edge of the lake. After a noisy swamp crossing, the comrades get down from their elephants and Hanley is agitated that Susan isn't there. Then Susan calls out and comes riding across the swamp on an elephant with the "mystery woman".

Middle Fleischmann Commercial: Offer for the "Johnny Weismuller, Eleanor Holm Swim book". Thirty-two pages, twelve easy swimming lessons, diagrams and photographs for only 10 cents and six labels from Fleischmann Yeast.

Susan explains that she spent the last two days in a high place of the Ancient Ones on a magic mountain and then she and the mystery woman were brought down on ponies to meet everyone on the side of the lake. Reggie asks if the Ancient Ones are actually priests that were head of the Khmer religion hundreds of years ago. Susan says she believes this is so since the one she met appeared to be ageless and because the mystery woman said so. Hanley asks the mystery woman why she is there and she says that she was delegated by the Ancient Ones to prevent the stealing of the Cobra God since it belongs to an ancient religion and to the people of Lao. Susan says she has nothing to do with the mystery woman and that she only has one interest in the Cobra God and that her father, Doctor Wells, is in this neighborhood also looking for the Cobra God. Susan doesn't want either of them to find the idol because it will mean death to whoever finds it and tries to get out of French Indo-China. The mystery woman then threatens Hanley with death and he wants to take her prisoner to protect themselves. Jack refuses to tie her up and then chanting starts coming from out on the lake. The chanting becomes louder and louder and they prepare to be attacked and then the mystery woman disappears. The chanting stops and a man calls out and comes ashore to talk with them. He gets closer and closer and then Susan shouts, "My father...he is my father!". A gunshot rings out and Hanley says maniacally, "I got him...I got him, there's one man who'll never lay hands on the Cobra God!".

In the announcer's closing, he invites all to take part this summer in one of the greatest events of all time, the World's Fair of 1940 in New York.

The Tropics Don't Call It Murder
Half each of episodes 8 (first), 10 and 11(last) of 13

Monster In The Mansion
First half of episode 5 and last half of episode 6 of 8

Secret Passage to Death

Episodes 1 & 2 of 10

A mysterious message brings our three heroes to a remote corner of Southern-eastern California, near the Mexican border. Delivered a mysterious message to one location, then a whispered instruction to Jack to a secret place, eventually our three heroes are heard pounding hell-bent for leather on the backs of three breathless horses, followed off in the distance by an unfriendly trio of horsemen. Jack eventually leads the three to a lonely ranch, and as instructed, into a barn with a hidden service elevator; this is the first stop of a mysterious "underground railway."

At this first "station" of this underground station, the three boys are greeted by the closed-mouth ranch owners, and are offered a chance to eat and clean up. They are then led to a darkened candle-lit room, and are introduced to a mysterious Mr. Knight who finally tells the three a little about their mission. Mr. Knight has a strange task for our three; to smuggle a young Chinese girl across the United States, into Canada. 

The girl had been hypnotized, and her brain contains great secrets about a certain unfriendly government. This same Enemy had been responsible for the destruction of many previous agents who had the secret in the brain of this sleeping Chinese beauty. Hence the long about route of hypnotizing the girl in Spain, smuggling her first to Africa, then South America, then to Mexico; the end of the line is Vancouver, Canada, where the girl will be awakened and her secrets divulged to the proper authorities.

There's a hitch to this task, Mr. Knight tells our bemused three comrades. Two in fact. The first is that the sleeping Chinese girl has a chaperone named Edith, a cool and prickly customer. The second, is that the mysterious Enemy has a bounty on the girl; $50,000 round American dollars for her capture, dead or alive. Everyone, from the leaders of Murder Inc., to the lowliest petty thief, will be after the reward, and our three and their charges...

There's also a sinister warning that Mr. Knight tells our three. Should they betray this trust set before them, perhaps trying to claim the $50,000 for themselves, they would be hunted to the ends of the earth, and revenge extracted.

Jack, Doc and Reggie barely blink. That very night, they head up into the mountains on foot, the icy air and full moon adding atmosphere to there trek. At the top the mountain, they are to meet their guide to the next "station" of the underground railway. To their dismay, they find him...a corpse, swinging from a skeletal tree. Their guide had been murdered, and now they were completely lost...

Doc finds a clue on the body, a golden cross clutched in the hands of the dead man as his final desperate act to give a hint and so complete their mission. They head down the other side of the mountain, for now going only way they can. An ambush erupts, hidden gunmen attacking from the rocks! Leaving Doc with Edith and what Doc as nicknamed the "China Doll", Reggie and Jack sneak away, and soon decidedly discourage the enemy who had likely murdered their guide.

At the bottom of the mountain, many tiring hour later, church bells are heard. What at first glance appears to be a mission (perhaps matching the clue of the golden cross) is found to be a non-denominational school for orphans. The party of adventurers is taken in by the friendly staff. Jack, fearful of splitting up the party, has them all housed in the school barn. They manage to sleep, and Jack plants a seed of gossip in the mind of the school principal (who doesn't respond to Jack's password, since this is in fact *not* the next "station") so the people running the true station can pick up on the fact. In the barn, after a good 7 hours sleep, Reggie brings back some warm food. Suddenly, a chorus of children singing in the school yard breaks into screams. "Fire!" "The Barn's on Fire!"

The barn is indeed on fire. Making things worse, is that both doors are guarded by snipe-shooters, who narrowly miss Jack and Doc. Suddenly a stone crashes through the window, striking Reggie. It's not an attack, though, since the message tied to the rock bears the correct password of the underground railroad "conductors." The note instructs them to hide in the barn's fire-proof cellar, where they will be safe from the flames above them.

The gang obey the letter, and indeed find refuge in the cellar from the inferno above them. Many hours pass, and finally the sounds of the fire diminish. There is the rustle of footsteps, and the door slowly opens, welcoming Jack, Doc, Reggie, as well as Edith and the sleeping Chinese girl.

The party emerges into an eerie world of soot, charred wood and embers. Their guide is unseen, face hidden behind a shadowed hood. When asked about the whereabouts of the snipers who tried to kill them at the barn, the voice answers mirthlessly, "It isn't nice to speak of the dead!" The voice goes on to tell them that a wheeled donkey cart has been prepared to take the group to the next link of their adventure.

When asked about a password, the man says, "Tell them Roger sent you, as in Jolly Roger. The man with no face!" and with that, he draws back his hood to the gasp of the others. Roger indeed, has no face...

With a sudden flare of organ music, the second episode ends so tantalizingly here.

The Pirate Loot of the Island of Skulls
Episode 2(last half), 7, 8 & (last half) of 12

The Girl In the Gilded Cage

Episode 7 of 15

Hearing this episode, I had a little feeling of deja vu. The premise of the story seems to be that Jack and Doc have been hired by the Government, to smuggle a Chinese girl from Mexico City into San Francisco's Chinatown. She has a secret in her head (of which she is unaware of), for which many a hired killer will want to ensure never escapes.

Sound familiar? It very much sounds like a re-write of the ILAM episode, "Secret Passage to Death."

In this single episode circulating (though there is another script episode knocking about) Jack and Doc are found in the company of a mysterious Chinese girl, who they have struggled mightily to bring from Mexico City to just across the bay from San Francisco on behalf of the US Government. They have run into the Enemy time and time again, and right now are on the darkened streets near the waterfront district. Worse of all, Jack and Doc have been accused of murder and the police, as well as the Underworld, are hot on their trail. Jack and Doc recall that the Cockney bartender they had rescued in a previous adventure south of the border (Buffingham, in TROPICS DON'T CALL IT MURDER) has a nearby gin mill, and can be counted on to give them help. Zig-zaging through the darkened streets, dodging police and so on, the arrive within sight of the water front tavern, located on piles just over San Francisco Bay. Jack goes in to ensures the coast is clear, and rejoins Doc and the Chinese girl, telling them a side entrance is safe to use.

Only it isn't! As the threesome enter the tavern, a hail of bullets fly their way, and the Chinese girl cries out in agony. They hustle her inside; luckily, she was only scorched by the bullet, though its passage cuts the chain of her locket (which she then asks Doc to hold on for her).

The three find themselves in an empty storeroom at the back of "Cockney's", and are about to decide what to do, when Cockney (aka Buffingham) arrives. After a few tense minutes, when Cockney wants nothing to do about transporting what he considers an illegal (and under aged) immigrant, he agrees to help Jack and Doc in their task. Suddenly some of Cockney's men interupt, lugging the dead body of the Chinese Girl's erstwhile assassin on the floor, the same man who had murdered an innocent farmer who had tried to help the threesome earlier on in their adventure.

With this grisly solution to their most recent problem, Cockney provides a solution to the second one; how to get the three across to San Francisco, if the Bay Bridge is crawling both with cops and crooks. A trap door in the floor shows water far below, with a powerful motorboat tied to the pilings. With a roar from the diesel motor, across the bay they fly!

The Hermit of San Felipe Atabapo
Episode 11 of 20

You Can't Pin A Murder on Nevada
Episode 12 of 15

I Am the Destroyer of Women
Episode 15 of 15

The Fear that Creeps Like A Cat
Episodes 2 & 3 of 20

The Tropics Don't Call It Murder
Episode 26 of 26

The Case of the Nevada Man Killer
Episode 15 & 20 of 25

The Snake With the Diamond Eyes
? episode 25 of 26

Murder In Turquoise Pass
Episodes 2, 8 & 9 of 15

Incident Concerning Death
Episode 10 of 15

The Killer of the Circle M

Episodes 10 & 11 of 20

Jack, Doc and Jerry are at the Circle M Dude ranch, located near the settlement of Babylon, somewhere in Arizona. It’s the off season, and they have been hired by the crusty though beautiful co-owner of the ranch (think of a cross between Mae West and Sophie Tucker; though with the voice of “Dry Gulch Mary” from Bury Your Dead Arizona) named Bella, to investigate a series of murders and other weird occurrences at her ranch.

Her husband (and co-owner), J. Simpson Sims, was introduced to the trio when they arrived as simply detectives there on a Western holiday. However, this feigned holiday is cut short very quickly, as murderous elements strike again. Not only is there a new killing on the ranch, but also a mysterious “Gorilla Man” (also dubbed the "Wild Man" or the "Big Man") is seen again prowling about. Jack had earlier been slugged in the head by some mysterious *somebody*, when he and J. Simpson Sims went riding up in Pine Canyon, trying to track down the Gorilla Man. Jack was knocked unconscious, and Sims was supposedly kidnapped (at least, he wasn’t around when Jack woke up).

As the episode opens, it is 12 noon on a dry dead heat of an Arizona afternoon. Jack and Doc are standing in the middle of the road outside Cabin 7 of the Circle M Ranch with Bella, They are staring down at the body of a Mexican boy from the settlement near Babylon, who has been killed in the night. Just then, the normally immaculate J. Simpson Sims stumbles down the roadway of the ranch, into view. J. Simpson Sims looks like he has just rolled down a mountain; dusty, begrimed and disheveled, “...like he’d been thrown down and chewed on.”

to be continued...

Murder Is The Word For It
Episode 4 and 15 of 15

The Graves of Wamperjaw, Texas

Episodes 8 & 9 of 15

Unfortunately only 2 consecutive middle episodes of this story (allegedly *not* written by Mr. Morse) exist and are circulating today.

From a synthesis of the two prologues we learn that Jack, Doc and Jerry are in Whamperville Texas, a tiny oil boom town in the middle of nowhere. They have been befriended by Mercedes and Ramon, brother and sister, who are allied with our team from the A-One detective agency. They have traveled to Whamperville because someone (or something) is making prophecies in a grisly manner in the local Whamperville cemetery; open graves with new headstones, the latter having odd verse signifying its next selected murder victim! There also seems to be some organized criminal activity involved, one aimed at pinning some of the murders on Jack; a corrupt law official named Bradley seems particularly interested in Jack. Ramon and Bradley have also had run ins together, and Ramon hates him with a passion. Doc had lost his nickel plated .38 pistol to Bradley, and Jack had been arrested by Bradley, but had been busted out of jail with Doc and Ramon's help, and are now hiding out. The two girls were also laying low in a local cabin.

The first episode begins in the middle of the night, in the shadow of oil derricks, Jack, Doc and Ramon are creeping up on the graveyard, looking for more clues about these serial murders. They are joined by two skulking figures who reveal themselves as Jerry and Mercedes. The girls tell how the cabin they'd been sleeping in had been broken into by Bradley and some of his gang, wanting to know where Jack was. Luckily the girls hadn't been hurt, though Doc was plenty sore to hear that either one had been threatened. Jack motions everyone to be quiet, and move closer to the graveyard.

Where there had been one grave marker many months old, and one from Mrs. Hooten's deceased husband, Squire Hooten, one month old, there are now 5 markers in total, with one lying empty. Striking matches, Jack reads the preceding verses again, and the latest broken bit of rhyme. The person hinted at, "...I care for only gold," seems suggestive of the town banker, Mr. Martins. Mercedes objects, saying Mr. Martin is a philanthropic man, who frequently supports the local community.

Suddenly, hoof beats are heard in the distance. Bradley and his men, on a posse! The group scatters; the girls back to the cabin, Doc and Ramon to a hay mow, and Jack to parts unknown, working undercover.

Doc and Ramon head into Whamperville early, to ask questions of Mr. Martin, the town banker. The latter greets them, indicating they can have a few minutes of his time; he is just working out the particulars for transferring the California account of the grizzled stranger sitting in the corner of the room. Doc starts to ask the surprised Mr. Martin if anyone hates him, when the conversation is suddenly interrupted. It is the arrival of a Mrs. Hooten (a widow whose husband has been recently buried in the local Whamperville cemetery) arrives, and the bachelor banker excuses himself for a moment ("I always have time for a lady," to confer with her, and to receive a tasty cake she has brought as a gift (one of several lately, it seems). Another patron arrives in the bank, does a double take, and orders Ramon and Doc to raise their hands. Bradley again!

Caught by surprise, Doc and Ramon reluctantly raise their hands. Doc is doubly chagrined, for it is his very own nickel plated gun he is being threatened with! Bradley pistol whips Ramon, Doc exclaims in anger in surprise, and Ramon vows revenge. Bradley orders the grizzled and crippled stranger out of the bank, and the latter scuttles out; he also orders the bank manager to open the front door of the bank. Fearfully, Mr. Martin opens the door for the taunting Bradley and his captives.

The group head over towards the Whamperville Jail. Doc's stratagem for surprising Bradley is overheard, and the latter continues to taunt the two, almost begging them to give Bradley an excuse to shoot them down. Suddenly there is a "thud", and Doc and Ramon whirl about in astonishment. Bradley has sunk to the grown, struck in the head from behind. And the clubber is seen running off, the grizzled stranger who had been earlier in the bank! Who is he, and why has he done it? Doc is perplexed, but it doesn't stop him or Ramon from scampering off.

We'll never know, for the second consecutive episode ends here. Only a single line from Doc heralding the next (lost) episode, paraphrased "I've never seen a man sit up that way-- all green and dead--before!" and the fragment ends.

My Beloved Is A Vampire
Episode 25 of 25 5-16-52

The Hermit of San Felipe Atabapo

13 of 20 episodes

Jack and Doc are in Hollywood, in their offices at the Triple A-1 Detective Agency, when they are approached one day their by a foreign gentleman. Speaking in very formal and precise English, the man claims to be an emissary from the "Higher Authority", the unseen rulers of the Lost Plateau. This was the site of Jack and Doc’s previous South American adventure, “Stairway to the Sun”. The emissary tells them that they must “...correct the error you made in leaving us (the High Place) before completing the task they had set out to accomplish.” A fat purse full of soft and ancient gold coins which Jack claims is Incan, and which the foreign gentleman serenely claims is pre-Atlantean, convinces the duo to head south for adventure.

Fade in to South America. Jack and Doc have flown to Caracas, Venezuela. There they have taken a launch up the Orinoco River until they reached Ciud de Atures. There, they are transferred to a large hunting canoe with native warriors manning the paddles, the group led very harsh faced Spanish speaking woman. Two weeks of rough traveling finds this strange party in the south-east corner of Venezuela, a land of milk and honey called San Felipe, Atabapo.

Jack and Doc are dropped off unceremoniously on the riverbank, no wiser about the particulars of their quest. What does the higher authority of the Lost Plateau want with them? Why haven’t they been greeted? Where, or who, is the Hermit of San Felipe, Atababo? Suddenly a seemingly threatening figure approaches the two in the dusky twilight...

It is the Hermit, a garrulous and cantankerous old geezer who prefers to use the name Jeremiah. Jeremiah, supposedly Irish in background, is to be their guide to the Lost Plateau, from a route opposite to that of that of Jack and Doc’s first approach (that via the enormous Stairway to the Sun, through the tunnel behind the enormous mile-high waterfall). The next morning, when Doc is off gathering water, Jack tries to pump Jeremiah for more information about their mysterious quest. Suddenly, Doc runs back to camp, breathless with excitement. He has seen an incredible sight; a beautiful maiden bathing by a pool, with all manner of wild birds and small forest animals frolicking tamely by here her side!

(to be continued...)

I Am a Destroyer of Women
Episodes 13 & 14 of 15

Bride of the Werewolf
Episode 12 of 15 12-5-52

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