“Death Wore Skis” is a murder mystery by Lester Dent. It was first published in the Toronto Star in October 1941. It was also published in The Bangor Daily News in the Saturday, November 9, 1941, issue. The complete story covered fifteen pages in the gazette style edition and had twenty-four chapters. The story started out slow and dragged a bit for the first few chapters. However, once the murder victims began turning up, the story pace picked up and became very intriguing. As far as I know, this story is not available in any collection. That is unfortunate as Lester Dent wrote a gripping murder mystery in this tale.
The story takes place in Colorado but mentions Lake Placid at point. This was probably inspired by the Dent’s trip to Lake Placid in February 1939. Lester Dent also tosses in a private yacht and Miami, Florida. This is a tip of the hat to his old yacht, the Albatross.
The Lester B. Dent collection at the University of Missouri in Columbia has several documents relating to this story and Dent’s attempts to get it published.
July 7, 1941
Dent’s agent, Willis Kingsley Wing, writes Dent with a disheartening list of refusals from Hollands, the Toronto Star, Detective Fiction Weekly, and Detective Story. Wing states that editor Cecil Goldbeck would like to meet with Dent the next time he comes to New York City.
King’s letter also included two rejection letters from publishers. The first was from Cosmopolitan, dated February 6, 1941, for the story “Small Green Match.” The second letter, dated May 7, 1941, is from Duell, Sloan, & Pearce, Inc. and rejects the story “Death Wore Skis.”
Source: WHMC Folder C3071_10
An undated message telegram to Dent states the Toronto Star is buying serial rights to “Death Wore Skis” for $500. Source: WHMC Folder C3071_10
September 18, 1941 – Lester Dent writes to Willis Kingsley Wing thanking him for the sell of “Death Wore Skis” by the Toronto Star.
October 25, 1941 – Today’s edition of The News-Messenger (Freemont, Ohio) carries an advertisement for “Death Wore Skis” in the current Toronto Star Weekly. The advertisement states the complete novel is included.
March 13, 1942 – The Bobbs Merrill Company writes Dent’s agent, Willis Kingsley Wing, a rejection letter for “Death Wore Skis.”
Source: WHMC Folder C3071_11
November 22, 1941 – The Bangor Daily News, Saturday, November 22, 1941, advertises “Death Wore Skis” in its entirety as its next “Book of the Week.”
December 29, 1941 – The Bangor Daily News, Saturday, November 29, 1941, publishes “Death Wore Skis” in its entirety as its “Book of the Week.”
January 15 , 1946
Willis Kingsley Wing writes Lester Dent in response to Dent’s letter of January 11. Wing is sorry to hear of Dent’s illness and notes it will certainly push Dent’s schedule back. Wing notes that he has “Death Wore Skis” on his desk Wing states that the manuscript has been shown to Quinn and Heckleman (Popular Library). The response was not very positive. Wing states that it needs revision.
Wing tells Dent that he lunched with Leo Margulies the prior week. Margulies expressed a liking for Dent’s work and thought that Dent’s tenure at Doc Savage writing under a pen name had not helped his career. Magulies told Wing he would have bought “Death Wore Skis” if there had been another Lester Dent story to accompany it.
Source: WHMC Folder C3071_15