Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott is perhaps best known these days as the author of the first two Spider novels. He was born in Woodstock, Ontario in 1882, attended The Royal Military College, and became an engineer that landed a job which sent him extensively through India, Ceylon, and Burma for four years. His son, R. T. M. Scott II(Robert), was born during this period. He was a Captain in Belgium during WWI until he suffered a concussion, then served on staff in Canada until the war’s end.
He moved his family to the United States after that and began to write for a living. Aurelius Smith first appeared to the April 1920 issue of ADVENTURE MAGAZINE with a story titled Into The East, wherein Secret Service Smith pursues a criminal, at his own expense, into India. There, after capturing his prey, Smith accepts a job working for Sir Oliver Haultain, head of the Criminal Intelligence Department of India. Smith has a devoted Hindu servant as an aide(darn that sounds familiar).
Over the next few years, Smith appeared in such diverse magazines as Adventure, Detective Tales, Action Stories, The McClure Newspaper Syndicate, Midnight Mysteries, Aftenposten(Norway), The Penny Magazine(England), and Gazetta di Puglis(Italy) among others in twenty or more stories. The time period covered in the stories begins years before WWI and covers fifteen years before his return to the States.
This book appeared in 1923 and was a fix-up of sorts, though little more than an interlude between each of the fifteen stories tied them together. In the first two thirds of the book, he takes cases all over India and surrounding countries before being “fired” by Haultain and sent to pursue a threat to his native country, America, where he stays after the conclusion.
Smith appears in two novels during this period, THE BLACK MAGICIAN and ANNE’S CRIME, then two more in 1946 and 1947, THE AGONY COLUMN MURDERS and THE NAMELESS ONES.
It was in 1933, at age fifty-one, that Scott was hired to write the first two Spider novels, though Will Murray theorizes that it might have, in fact, been Robert that wrote them, basing them on his father’s character. He already worked for Popular Publications. No evidence though as the checks were made out to R. T. M. Scott.
In reading these stories, I can see where Secret Service Smith could have served as a model for Richard Wentworth. An intelligent, athletic man(the scenes atop a moving train come to mind), who’d utilize disguises when necessary, he wasn’t as quick to kill as the Spider(though a lot of that came after Page took the writing chores). And there is his Hindu servant, Langa Doonh, a man who idolizes Smith who saved his life as a young boy.
The stories are pretty much of their time when England ruled India and any of the native populace who were servants were referred to as “boy.”
I have the two early novels though I haven’t read them yet. All three appear in an omnibus, what I have, titled MAMMOTH SECRET SERVICE SMITH STORIES. No dust jacket and I haven’t been able to find one for any of the five titles(probably not making the correct goggle search).