Well, there was also The President’ s Mystery Story, a novel suggested by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and written by six popular mystery novelists – Rupert Hughes, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Anthony Abbot, Rita Weiman, S. S. Van Dyne, and John Erskine. It was serialized in Liberty magazine in 1935 and published in book form in 1936. Re-issued in 1967 with Arnold Roth illustrations as The President’s Mystery Plot.
Here’s the flap copy:
**On Sunday evening, May 12, 1935, the President of the United States was entertaining a few friends at an informal supper in the White House… .In the course of the evening, the talk turned to mystery thrillers… .Fulton Oursler asked whether the President had ever thought of writing a mystery himself.
Roosevelt chuckled and said “To tell you the truth, I have often thought about it. In fact, I have carried the plot for a mystery in my mind for years. But I can t find the solution to my own plot! And I’ve never found anyone else who could either.”
“How can a man disappear with five million dollars in any negotiable form and not be traced?”
“For years I have tried to answer that problem. In every method suggested, I have been able to find a flaw. The more you consider the question, the more difficult it becomes. Now–can you tell me how it can be done?”
Thus said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to his good friend Fulton Oursler, then editor of Liberty Magazine. “Suppose,” replied Oursler, “that we were to ask the leading writers of the United States to solve this problem. Why could they not all collaborate on a mystery story in which your problem is dramatized in the person of a man faced with this predicament?”
The President’s famous, joyous laugh responded, “That would be fun! Go ahead. See what you can all do with it.”
And that is just what Oursler did, going to the outstanding mystery writers of the day and challenging them to take “the President s mystery plot” and see what they could “do with it.” Each contributed a chapter to the mystery embroiling the central character, Jim Blake, in a series of seemingly insoluble situations, and then leaving him for the next author in line.
Out of this conversation came a unique event in publishing history–a “chain” mystery novel in which each chapter is written by a different major author of the day. But like Roosevelt, none of them was able to solve “the President’s mystery plot” and so it remained unsolved until P---- M---- entered the case.
Jim Blake was left hanging for thirty years, until Erle Stanley Gardner–in the person of P---- M---- came to his rescue, and the result is the volume you now hold in your hand. Wild adventure, zany humor, a truly absorbing mystery plot–plus Arnold Roth’s wild illustrations–all make this unique book highly entertaining, and, as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. says in his introduction, “a natural for the camp generation.”
The President s Mystery Plot is “high camp” entertainment at its best. If you like wild adventure, zany humor and a truly absorbing mystery plot–plus the pop-art illustrations of Arnold Roth–then The President’s Mystery Plot is for you.**