by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to these popular old characters for the benefit of new readers.
The Maitlands

The characters were created by J. W. Bobin.

Ezra Q. Maitland and his wife Kathleen are American criminals whose operations come to the attention of Sexton Blake during the First World War. Prior to his first meeting with them, they were well-known to Blake's American colleague, Fenlock Fawn, who had been unsuccessful in his attempts to prove them responsible for the dramatic looting of the Great Broadway Bank. This latter exploit led to Mrs. Maitland being nicknamed "Broadway Kate."

The Maitlands had originally been a fairly ordinary couple until their baby daughter died. Seeking escape from the emotional pain, they slipped into a life of crime, beginning with small crimes but building to ever greater acts of lawlessness.

Ezra is a clean-shaven man with a pale, clever face and a high and intellectual forehead. He might be described as handsome were it not for the fact that his piercing black eyes are a trifle too close together, and that his lips are thin and cruel in expression. In age, he is about thirty, perhaps a little more, as his black hair is grey at the temples and thinning upon the crown.

Kate, by contrast, is breathtakingly beautiful. Tall, graceful and slimly built, her pale face is exquisitely shaped, her eyes large and of a deep sea-blue. Her real hair is seldom seen; it is cropped short and always concealed beneath one of her many wigs. Like her husband, Kate is an expert in the art of disguise.

The Maitland's have a Chinese servant named Wang.

Some time after Ezra Q. Maitland is executed as a spy, Broadway Kate falls in love with Aubrey Dexter, but she proves too dangerous for his refined tastes and he flees from her only to be pursued and stabbed.


1. The Commerce Destroyer UNION JACK issue 572 (1914)
The Maitlands are commissioned by a German spy to betray the position of a liner which is bound for England with a million pounds in its hold. Sexton Blake boards the ship and foils their plan but cannot stop them from escaping in a seaplane.

2. Sexton Blake in Togoland UNION JACK issue 577 (1914)
The Maitlands hear of gold that a plantation owner has buried to keep it out of the hands of German forces in Togoland. They steal the man's map and set off to lay claim to the treasure but Sexton Blake follows and captures them. During a fight between British and German soldiers, Ezra, Kate and their servant, Wang, manage to escape.

3. The Case of the Belgian Relief Fund UNION JACK issue 583 (1914)
Five cases of gold, collected as relief for the stricken Belgians, becomes the target of the Maitland's next criminal exploit. Cunningly disguised, they manage to make away with it but are tracked and foiled by Sexton Blake. Ezra vows to kill the detective when they next meet.

4. The Case of the Agent from Austria UNION JACK issue 600 (1915)
The Maitlands help an enemy agent obtain top secret documents then double-cross him. Sexton Blake steps in and recovers the papers. The detective arrests Ezra but Kate gets away.

5. The Spectre of the Normanvilles UNION JACK issue 612 (1915)
Ezra Q. Maitland escapes from custody after his police cell is hit during an air raid. He takes refuge in an old Manor and teams up with an unscrupulous man who will gain a large inheritance if only his uncle and cousin will die. Maitland uses the legend of a family ghost to scare the uncle to death. When he tries to do the same to the cousin, Sexton Blake intervenes and exposes the plot. Maitland escapes.

6. The Shadow of His Crime SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY issue 3 (1915)
An ex-swindler vows revenge on the partner who betrayed him twenty years ago. He hires Maitland to frame the son of his former partner for embezzlement. Sexton Blake steps in to save the boy and realises that his old enemy is behind the plot. He exposes Maitland and foils his subsequent plans but, when the criminal is handed over to the police, he escapes.

7. The Counterfeiters UNION JACK issue 632 (1915)
The country is being flooded with counterfeit banknotes and Detective-Inspector Martin turns to Sexton Blake for help. Blake realises that a woman recently arrested (but then freed) for passing a forged note is actually Broadway Kate. She later causes an innocent man to be accused of the crime. Blake and Tinker raid the old mill which she and Ezra Q. Maitland are using as a base. The detective and his assistant are captured and nearly killed but Martin comes to the rescue. Maitland is arrested but Kate gets away. Maitland is convicted as a spy and executed by a firing squad (we learn of this event in UNION JACK issue 667).

8. The Case of the Cinema Star UNION JACK issue 667 (1916)
Broadway Kate tries to seduce a rising actor but is confronted by Sexton Blake and ordered out of the country. When the actor becomes famous in America, his father commissions Kate to kidnap him and return him to England to join the Army and do his duty. Blake interferes again, though the actor decides to join up anyway. Once again, Kate is banished from England by the detective.

9. The Bogus Confession UNION JACK issue 671 (1916)
Secretly returning to England with her servant, Wang, Broadway Kate kidnaps a mining engineer and fakes his suicide in order to drive down the cost of shares in a diamond concern. She and a crooked financier begin to by the shares at a knock-down price but this alerts Sexton Blake. He rescues the imprisoned man and captures Kate and Wang. The two criminals are arrested.

10. A Legacy of Shame SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, 1st series, issue 39 (1917)

11. The Case of the International Adventurer SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, 1st series, issue 43 (1917)

More to come ... ...