Paul Cynos

by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to this popular old character for the benefit of new readers.

Paul Cynos is an innocent man that the justice system has wronged. Having been unwittingly cast in the role of a villain, he now intends to play the part to the hilt! His significant others are his daughter, Moya Grayle, and his seven sons, who have all adopted false identities.

Cynos was created by Robert Murray Graydon.

Paul Cynos

Paul Cynos served sixteen years in Parkmoor prison for a murder he didn't commit. After being released by the Home Secretary, John Selby Waite, he amazed the whole world and discomforted the powers of Justice by establishing the fact that he was entirely innocent of the crime for which he had been committed.

It was one of those rare errors of justice which, fortunately, do not occur once in a century, and the authorities had been quick to make such reparation as was within their powers.

But a free pardon and an offer of compensation did not satisfy Paul Cynos. He snapped his fingers at the law, and openly announced his intention to wreak a fitting revenge on every solitary individual who had played the slightest part in the prosecution that had robbed him of sixteen of the best years of his life.

During all those years he had had ample time to scheme and perfect his intended crusade of vengeance, and within a week of his release he brought about the downfall of the man who was actually guilty of the murder with which Cynos had been charged.

Had the man stopped there he might have retained public sympathy, but immediately afterwards he launched an attack against the man who had been the chief witness for the prosecution at his trial, and but for the intervention of Sexton Blake would have achieved one of the most astounding criminal coups that the world had ever known.

There was no doubt that Cynos was a dangerous criminal genius, who would never willingly abandon the crusade of vengeance upon which he had embarked. Wrongfully branded as a criminal, he had taken it upon himself to become one, and none knew what further mischief he was plotting in his safe hiding-place, though there were many who feared and wondered what his next move would be ...


1. The Seven Sons of Cynos (UNION JACK issue 1,289, 1928)
Set free by the Home Secretary, John Selby Waite, Paul Cynos vows revenge on every individual involved in his trial and subsequent imprisonment for a murder he didn't commit. He aims first at his former business partner, Jabez Knowland. Sexton Blake learns that Cynos has seven sons and one daughter. The latter is working as Knowland's secretary. She intends to marry her employer's son but her father insists that she calls off the engagement. He then conducts a faux court case during which Knowland confesses to the murder for which Cynos was incarcerated. Cynos presents the confession and confessor to the Home Secretary. He is, in consequence, granted a full pardon. Blake's investigation into the case has, however, revealed a remarkable fact: the Home Secretary, John Selby Waite, is one of Paul Cynos's sons! Blake vows to keep this a secret but Waite, fearing a scandal, commits suicide. Knowland hangs himself in his prison cell.

2. A Million in Gold! (UNION JACK issue 1,297, 1928)
Blake receives a tip off that a major crime is about to be committed. The principal clue is "a wolf's head," which — as Tinker observes — is the Cynos coat of arms. The criminologist next learns that Sir Harley James, the Governor of the National British Bank, has received a demand from Cynos for one million pounds in payment for the part he played — as a key witness — in Cynos's trial. That amount in bullion is due to be moved between two banks, one of which employs a clerk named Clayton who Blake suspects of being one of Cynos's sons. The fortune is moved in a motor-pantechnicon but Blake confuses the situation by having six more such vehicles making the same journey. Cynos swoops on the correct one but makes off with booby-trapped strong boxes. When opened, they set off smoke bombs via which the leader of the thieves can be located — one of Cynos's sons. Cynos himself, though, evades capture by fooling the police into following his brother, Maximus.

3. The Mystery of the Black Van (UNION JACK issue 1,312, 1928)
The owner of a large insurance company, Malcolm Burton, is ordered by Cynos to pay a large sum in reparation for the role he played as foreman of the jury at Cynos's trial. All over London, glass begins to shatter, destroyed by a sound wave machine. The insurance claims will ruin Burton, so he agrees and is told to leave the money at a certain drop-off point. Blake catches the man who comes to pick up the cash. It is the inventor of the machine ... who also happens to be Cynos's eldest son. The entire plot is, in fact, a swindle, for Burton is also a Cynos! Exposed, they are both taken by the police. Paul Cynos, however, gets to fight another day.

4. Are You Paul Cynos? (UNION JACK issue 1,327, 1929)
Cynos organises a publicity stunt that confuses the police and enables him to roam freely around London. Disguised as Chief Commissioner Fairfax, he enters Scotland Yard during the quiet night shift and, assisted by one of his sons who happens to be a detective sergeant, he plants a time bomb. He then calls up district stations and orders them to gather large teams of policemen to raid addresses thought to be his headquarters. While the forces of law are thus diverted, his gang carries out a number of audacious bank raids. Cynos, meanwhile, visits the judge who had previously sentenced him and frightens him to death. The bomb explodes and Scotland Yard is half destroyed. Sexton Blake vows to catch Paul Cynos within eight hours.

5. I Defy! (UNION JACK issue 1,338, 1929)
Blake and Detective-Inspector Coutts arrest Paul Cynos's brother, Maximus, but ensure that the press announces that it's the master crook who's been taken into custody. As they had hoped, Paul Cynos is enraged by the false reports. He telephones Blake and promises that his brother will walk free. At the hearing on the following day, the judge dismisses the case and Maximus is released. The judge then reveals himself to be a disguised Cynos. In the chaos that follows, he dons another disguise, has himself arrested under a false name for attempting to pick a pocket, and is placed on remand in Brixton Prison, where he can lie low. Blake, though, is led by clues to the taxicab company that Cynos uses as a front for his criminal enterprises. There, he learns of the crook's false identity and whereabout. Cynos is arrested ... and this time it's for real.

6. King's Evidence (UNION JACK, issue 1,350, 1929)
John Coates, the manager of the taxi firm Cynos created as a cover for his criminal enterprises, promises to give King's Evidence. Cynos has him shot dead. Jack Knowland, husband to Cynos's only daughter, Moya Grayle, reports that she went to see her father and has not returned. Blake & Co. go to Brixton Prison to see if she visited. They arrive just as Cynos and his sons Professor Septimus Coss and Malcolm Burton escape. Cynos immediately visits the home of Sir Thursby Thomas to extort money out of him but he finds that Sir Thursby has been killed. He's knocked unconscious by the dead man's servant. Blake receives a tip off, races to the murder scene, and claps handcuffs on the recovering Cynos. The villain identifies the servant as one of his gang. Blake is able to confirm that the servant was the killer and exposes him as John Coates's brother, out to revenge himself. Malcolm Burton arrives to warn Cynos that the girl has escaped. He is arrested and all the crooks are returned to prison. Moya Grayle returns home.

7. Retribution (UNION JACK, issue 1,359, 1929)
Based on evidence provided by brain specialist Doctor Harper Garrick, Cynos is found guilty but insane and is remanded to Roadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Moya Grayle, though, recognises Garrick as the masked man who had kidnapped her ... he is Cynos's seventh son! Blake follows Garrick onto the same train that will take Cynos to Roadmoor. When a passenger gasses him into unconscious, he sleeps through Cynos's escape. However, Coutts and Tinker link up with him at the next station. Garrick and Cynos are getting away in a fast car. Blake & co. race after it and, endeavouring to elude them, Cynos recklessly drives onto a train crossing. His car is hit by a locomotive and he and Garrick are killed.

And thus ends the crime spree of Paul Cynos.