THE BIG SWINDLE [The Long Island Mysteries] by Clarence Budington Kelland

Two geeks are better than one! Especially when they're twins! Kelland's last novel and his most delightful—the classic Saturday Evening Post serial, for the first time in book form!

The Big Swindle is Kelland’s last book—and one of his best. Brimming with his trademark pixilated dialogue and zany romance, as well as his sometimes-awkward, sometimes-effervescent, always-memorable characters (The Saturday Evening Post, where the story was serialized, once told him to stop using “so many cockeyed characters” in his stories—but thankfully, Kelland ignored this advice).

“Urbane entertainment!” —Kirkus Reviews

Pete and Pet, the Du Chillon twins, are heirs to one of the oldest names in Europe and one of the largest fortunes in America. Two crazy kids with lots to do and even more to say, they have a habit of being newsworthy wherever they go.

In Paris—where they were fined for sneaking into the senate gallery and blowing a pound of snuff into the air to restore the Duke de Penthieve’s honor after an insult by one of his political enemies—they’re known as Les Gemeaux.

In London society—where they were royally entertained by the Queen after saving a member of the royal family from a royal embarrassment—they’re called The Gemini.

In West Germany—where they had borne away to freedom one of their former University professors captured by the East German branch of the NKVD—they’re Die Zwillinge.

And in Rome—where they had inspired the Pope to pen an encyclical liberalizing certain church practices—they answer to Due Gemelli.

But at home in Cow Bay, Long Island—where they were raised—they’ve always been known simply as “them pesky twins.”

Now they are about to come into their majority and complete control of their inheritance—namely, Du Chillon Industries—but before they can explore their newfound power, they must use their signature wit and cunning to secure it. As they find themselves in the midst of a deadly plot to grab control of Du Chillon Industries (as well as every penny they own!), it becomes clear that they’ve been waiting for this moment their whole lives, and are more than ready to dispatch any swindlers who stand in their way.

Participants in the plot include:

  • “Fish Eye” Norton (the twins’ name for him), current president of Du Chillon Industries, an obsequious individual who believes his efforts for the company have earned him the right to control and possess it.
  • Lumen Bassett, the arrogant, threatening head of security for the company: either Norton’s pawn or, perhaps, his puppet master.
  • Elmo Tailer, who has dreamed of taking over Cow Bay—and who has assumed that Pete and Pet would be easy prey, since they’re half his age. It never occurred to him that instead, as twins, they might be twice as dangerous.

In the middle of this muddle, Pete and Pet find themselves falling in love with:

  • Electra Tubbs, a local reporter as bewitching as she is enigmatic, who set Pete’s head swimming—and who he suspects just might be the family’s worst enemy.
  • Leif Ericson, a brawny, golden-haired giant who sailed across the Atlantic in a perfect replica of a Viking ship to prove Du Chillon Industries, and the family who owned it, were outright crooks. Even while she eyes him with suspicion, Pet can’t help but blush in his presence.

And presiding over all, stands:

  • Madame Du Chillon—known by the twins as Grand’mere—an iron-willed matriarch who had taught Pete and Pet everything they know…which was a great deal more than most people suspected. While heads fall all around her, she remains in possession of her own.

Be prepared for swindles within swindles—and who will swindle whom? Even if you guess, you won't be able to guess how!

Here in this lost classic, never before printed in book form, is a fitting capstone to the career of one of America's most popular and beloved authors.

“A writer of distinction.” —The Detroit News

“On the ball.” —Criminal Record

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About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland is a legendary Golden Age author of mystery and romantic suspense. Kelland penned some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest-paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. His trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans would likely disagree. There is nothing second-rate about his work.