GEORGE MARSDEN PLUMMER
SAKR-EL-DROOG, THE HAWK OF THE PEAK

by Mark Hodder

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

George Marsden Plummer is tall and well-built, with white hair (later dyed) and eyes that turn green when he is under stress. Of aristocratic lineage, he possesses a high degree of vanity and an extreme temper. He is possibly a psychopath. Cunning and devious, he's skilled at disguise but sometimes gives himself away by habitually biting his nails. His significant others are: Muriel Marl (his daughter), John Marsh, Kathleen Farland aka the Moth, Vali Mata Vali, Rupert Forbes, Gustave, and Abdel Krim.

George Marsden Plummer

It being some considerable time since an exploit of this amazing rogue was chronicled in the UNION JACK, a few words of reintroduction may not be out of place.

In George Marsden Plummer, Sexton Blake is pitted against a man with a fertile and deductive brain falling only very little short of his own, so that when the two meet, one on the side of the law, the other against it, a strenuous and relentless battle of wits follows as a natural consequence.

But for an accident of birth, which placed two frail lives between, Plummer would have inherited the Earldom of Sevenoaks and its rent-roll of sixty thousand a year. Undoubtedly a criminal "kink" exists in his brain, and in his earliest youth Plummer began to resent missing this inheritance, and felt that, for one with blue blood in his veins, to be compelled to work for a living was all wrong.

When quite a young man, Plummer joined the London Police Force.

Such wonderful detective ability did he show that, within a few short years, he had worked his way up to the position of Detective-Sergeant at Scotland Yard, and was looked upon as one of its most promising young detectives.

But then, envious of the rich persons with whom his work sometimes brought him in contact, Plummer no longer fought against the criminal impulses that were his.

He went crooked.

Knowledge gained in his detective work frequently gave him a hold over rich persons, and he commenced a system of blackmail which caused his name to become one of terror in a dozen honoured families; whilst, instead of arresting criminals to whom he traced various misdeeds, Plummer forced them to hand him a half-share, or even more, of their hauls.

His inside information as to the workings of the Force enabled him for a very long period to outwit the official police, to amass ill-gotten wealth, and indulge in the extravagances he loved.

But at last Sexton Blake ferreted out the truth as to the double life he was leading, and, exposing him, sent him to a term of penal servitude at Bleakmoor Prison.

From there George Marsden Plummer escaped, showing the skill and resource of a modern Jack Sheppard, and recommencing his criminal career.

Aiming at higher game than before, and working with an ex-financier, one John Marsh, he planned huge swindles, which would have startled the whole civilised world had not Sexton Blake, in nearly every case, contrived to step in and nip his schemes in the bud.

Plummer's greatest asset in his nefarious exploits has always been his power of disguise and impersonation. As a character actor he would undoubtedly have risen to the top of the tree. Let Plummer have an opportunity of studying a man for a short while, or of securing a good photo of him, and, provided the person in question is of a somewhat similar height and build to himself, it is in the master criminal's power to make up so that he becomes his living image.

An instance of Plummer's skill in this direction can be mentioned when, impersonating a certain Detective-Inspector, he actually returned to Scotland Yard, and, for a week or more, filled the man's position there.

No one at the Yard had the least suspicion that he was not the official he impersonated.

Sexton Blake it was who first discovered the truth, after having an opportunity to look into the impostors eyes.

There exists a peculiarity in these that even Plummer, with all his cleverness in disguise, cannot alter. Normally they are steel-grey, but when he is angry or excited they have a habit of changing to a baleful agate-green, with the pupils contracting and dilating like those of an enraged cat.
The case mentioned in which Plummer so daringly returned to the Yard, appeared in the UNION JACK under the title of the "Kidnapped Inspector."

It represents, however, but one of many instances where this master among criminals has employed his wonderful and amazing skill in "make-up" to help his colossal criminal plans.

Chronology:

The Police Tales:

1. Detective-Sergeant Plummer (UNION JACK issue 598 and PLUCK issue 544, both 1915)
Heavily in debt, Detective-Sergeant Plummer uses his skills in the art of disguise to steal precious gemstones which he has been sent to guard.

2. The Third Shot (PLUCK issue 545, 1915)
A ruthless banker tries to disguise murder as self-defence but Plummer realises the truth. When he confronts the villain, the man commits suicide. Plummer takes the opportunity to raid the murderer's safe and gains £1,000.

3. The Last Chance (PLUCK issue 547, 1915)
A businessman steals £1,000 from his company and gambles it at Epsom. He wins £10,000. Detective-Sergeant Plummer catches up with him and demands £3,000 in return for which he frames a petty criminal for the crime.

4. The Secret of the Paid Companion (PLUCK issue 548, 1915)
A man is found dead in his bed apparently from a drug overdose. Plummer is sent to investigate and finds clues indicating that murder has been committed. He identifies the man's paid companion as the culprit and finds the evidence necessary to convict him. Although he makes no material profit from this case, his stock is raised at Scotland Yard.

5. The Accidental Anarchist (PLUCK issue 549, 1915)
A young man joins an anarchist group which is really a front for two swindlers. Plummer disguises himself as one of the villains and thus learns the scheme from the other. The victim has been fooled into thinking that he has been fairly drawn by lottery for a job of assassination. Knowing that he won't want to go through with it, the swindlers intend to allow him to buy himself out of the job. Plummer gains the money and causes the arrest of the two 'anarchists'.

6. The House of Treasure (PLUCK issue 550, 1915)
Plummer investigates the death of one of a trio of American criminals and realises that the man had betrayed his colleagues by making off with the proceeds of their crimes. After tracing the remaining duo, he claims their regained loot before arresting them and basking in the consequent acclaim.

7. The Meeting with Marsh (PLUCK issue 551, 1915)
Papers are supposedly stolen from John Marsh, among them a report concerning a gold mine he owns in Africa. In truth, the report was damning but he's attempting to forge a more positive version. Plummer sees through the ruse. Marsh offers payment and partnership to keep quiet. Plummer takes the deal.

8. The Scotland Yard Scandal (PLUCK issue 552, 1915)
John Marsh, in response to Plummer's ongoing blackmailing of him, frames the detective and causes his resignation from Scotland Yard. Now they are on an even playing field and can conduct their villainous partnership on an equal footing.

8. The House of Mystery (PLUCK issue 561, 1915)
Plummer learns that an elderly fence is about to leave the country will a large haul of stolen jewellery. The master crook goes to the man's house intending to lay claim to the treasure but when he arrives he discovers that Detective-Sergeant William Spearing has got there before him. Plummer flees.

The Duel With Sexton Blake:

9. The Man from Scotland Yard (UNION JACK issue 222, 1908)
Plummer identifies the two people standing between him and an inherited fortune. He murders one but fails to kill the other and is ultimately caught by Sexton Blake and sent to Maidstone prison.

10. In Deadly Grip (UNION JACK issue 302, 1909)
Plummer escapes from gaol and sets out to eliminate all the evidence that Blake gathered against him. He succeeds in this but is recaptured by the detective and ends up in Dartmoor Prison.

11. The Mervyn Mystery (THE BOYS' FRIEND LIBRARY issue 96, 1909)
Teaming up with Rupert Forbes, Plummer escapes from Starkmoor prison (he must have been transferred, though this isn't stated) and they set out to rob London'd banks. As Blake closes in, the two criminals fall out and Forbes betrays Plummer. Forbes is killed by savage dogs and, at the end of the story, Plummer is presumed drowned.

12. The Swell Mobsman (UNION JACK issue 315, 1909)
Plummer, having escaped drowning, attempts to swindle five financiers out of a quarter of a million pounds each. But his every step is dogged by Sexton Blake who, ultimately, humiliates him, leaving Plummer penniless and shamed.

13. The Problem of the Yellow Button (UNION JACK issue 334, 1910)
Disguised as a Chinese Mandarin, Plummer starts selling state secrets to the European powers; an act which threatens to spark a war. He is eventually captured by Blake but escapes from police custody.

14. The Mystery of Room 11 (UNION JACK issue 342, 1910)
Plummer impersonates a French police officer and teams up with crooked financier John Marsh to rob millionaires of their fortunes. Sexton Blake catches both men and they each receive a twenty-year sentence.

15. Plummer Versus Blake (UNION JACK issue 357, 1910)
John Marsh's wife helps the criminal duo to escape from prison. They rob two society events to fund a financial scam involving shares in rubber plantations. Sexton Blake catches up with them and regains the stolen loot but Mrs. Marsh arrives in a submarine just in time to save Plummer and her husband from capture.

16. The Cotton "Corner" (UNION JACK issue 365, 1910)
Plummer and John Marsh attempt to steal the profits made by a millionaire businessman who has cornered the market in cotton. They are defeated by Sexton Blake and Detective-Inspector Martin and both receive life sentences in Starkmoor Prison.

17. The Mystery of Bleakmoor Prison (UNION JACK issue 382, 1911)
Sexton Blake allows Plummer and John Marsh to escape from Bleakmoor prison so they will lead him to stolen diamonds which they hid three years previously. They try to give him the slip but the detective proves their master once again. The diamonds are recovered and the two crooks are recaptured.

18. The Kidnapped Inspector (UNION JACK issue 401, 1911)
Plummer and John Marsh have escaped from prison (though the tale of their escape is not told). Plummer impersonates a Detective-Inspector from Scotland Yard who he and John Marsh have kidnapped. In this guise he attempts to steal a Rajah's jewels but is foiled by Sexton Blake. Plummer, Marsh and their servant Gustav are all sent to Bleakmoor.

19. The Case of the Convict Millionaire (UNION JACK issue 453, 1912)
Plummer escapes from Broadmoor, betraying John Marsh by leaving him behind. In the guise of John Skelton, an imprisoned businessman, he starts to bleed the funds out of the latter's company. Sexton Blake gets on his trail and Plummer makes an attempt to murder him. He fails and flees, only to be foiled by Marsh who has escaped to take vengeance. Plummer is sent back to prison but Blake allows Marsh to go free to start a new life abroad.

20. The Case of the Newspaper Relief Fund (UNION JACK issue 453, 1912)
A fire at Bleakmoor gives Plummer the opportunity to fake his own death and escape. Discovering that Sexton Blake is away on holiday, he impersonates the detective and takes up residence at Baker Street. After breaking into the safe and discovering Blake's documents, he uses them to blackmail men from high society. The scheme fails when the real Blake returns and uses the art of disguise to catch the villain. In return for the papers, he allows Plummer to set sail for a life of exile in America.

21. The Blackmailer Detective (UNION JACK issue 456, 1912)
Plummer returns from America and, in disguise, sets up business as a detective. He uses his position to blackmail his clients but, before too long, Sexton Blake is onto his game and the criminal finds himself on his way back to Bleakmoor Prison.

22. The Brotherhood of Twelve (UNION JACK issue 459, 1912)
While on remand, Plummer escapes and impersonates the leader of a blackmail gang. Sexton Blake foils his plans but, in return for Tinker's life, agrees to let the criminal go. The real gang leader has other ideas: he attacks Plummer and they both fall from a cliff into the sea. Only one body is found — and it isn't that of Plummer ...

23. The Great Charity Swindle (UNION JACK issue 462, 1912)
Plummer survives his plummet into the sea and, after a spell in France, returns to England to organise a charity swindle. When Sexton Blake becomes involved, Plummer steals valuable government documents, knowing that Blake will be put on the case and thus distracted. Unfortunately, he neglects to consider Tinker, who rumbles his plan. Plummer escapes but without the proceeds of his crime.

24. The Secret Slaves (UNION JACK issue 465, 1912)
Plummer is hired by two dishonest businessmen to travel to the Congo and take advantage of shady practices in the rubber industry. As a slave driver, the criminal is a great success and is soon bringing in huge amounts of the valuable resource. However, the manager he has usurped manages to smuggle a letter to England which brings Sexton Blake to the scene. Plummer is betrayed by his cohorts, stricken with fever and captured by his greatest enemy. At the last moment, he manages to escape, but this has been a bad exploit for him.

25. The Heir From Texas (UNION JACK issue 469, 1912)
Plummer attempts to impersonate the long lost son of Sir Richard Glinthorp ... but so does someone else: his old partner John Marsh. The two men team up to try to rob Glinthorpe of his valuable antique collection. Sexton Blake intervenes and foils their scheme. They flee and Blake is prevented from catching up with them when a storm fells a tree in the path of his car.

25. A Case of Graft (UNION JACK issue 471, 1912)
Plummer teams up with a crooked New York policeman named Jefson and a villainous millionaire, Luke O. Zitman, to corner a profit in the wheat industry. Sexton Blake manages to gather evidence against Jefson and Zitman and they are sent for trial. However, Plummer impersonates the judge and sets the two men free.

25. The Great Bank Fraud (UNION JACK issue 473, 1912)
Plummer steals a hundred thousand pounds in counterfeit notes from a forger and starts changing them for real money by impersonating a couple of bank employees. Sexton Blake identifies him as the culprit and begins to hunt for him. Plummer nearly commits his first murder when he attacks Tinker. Led by Pedro's nose, Blake catches up with the master-crook and they engage in a terrific fist fight. Blake is knocked cold and Plummer flees.

26. The Case of the £500,000 Loan (UNION JACK issue 475, 1912)
Plummer stages a coup in the guise of the ousted president of the South American republic of Santa Lucia. With the citizens believing that their old president has returned to power, the criminal starts to exploit the country's silver mines. However, Sexton Blake foils his plans and Plummer is forced to flee.

27. The Great Turf Mystery (UNION JACK issue 476, 1912)
Returned to Great Britain, Plummer teams up with a dishonest bookmaker to try to nobble the horse marked as favourite to win a race meeting. His various attempts are each foiled by Sexton Blake. At one point, Plummer believes he has killed his opponent only to have the detective ruining his schemes yet again. The bookmaker is caught and later commits suicide in prison. Plummer escapes.

28. The Price of Silence (UNION JACK issue 480, 1912)
Plummer stumbles across a plot by the owner of an insane asylum and the cousin of an aristocrat. They are holding Leslie Weyland in a cell and he's been declared missing presumed dead. The cousin, Kildock, has inherited the estate. Plummer demands money to keep their secret, but when Weyland's wife asks Sexton Blake to investigate, the master crook's scheme goes awry. The plotters are caught by the police and Weyland is liberated. Plummer escapes by the skin of his teeth.

29. The Great Conspiracy DREADNOUGHT issues 61 to 67 (1913)
An American millionaire offers to pay Count Ivor Carlac £200,000 if he obtains the famous Lovelace diamonds. Carlac's first move is to kidnap Sir Henry Lovelace's daughter and hold her for ransom. This scheme is foiled by Sexton Blake. Next, Carlac teams up with George Marsden Plummer and John Marsh and, by impersonating William Spearing, they manage to steal the gems. Plummer, though, betrays his companions and absconds with the loot. Carlac mobilises his forces, who capture the traitorous villain. However, before Carlac can torture Plummer to death, the ex-Scotland Yard man is set free by Tinker. Carlac and Marsh narrowly escape a police raid and are forced to flee, empty-handed.

30. The Secret of Bleakmoor Prison (UNION JACK issue 484, 1913)

31. Police Constable Plummer vs. Sexton Blake, Detective (UNION JACK issue 487, 1913)
A foreign prince visits Bleakmoor Prison but while there is attacked by one of the inmates. Plummer comes to his rescue and, in return, the prince arranges for his escape. Later, he regrets this decision and confesses to Sexton Blake. The detective races to the prison but Plummer evades him and steals his car. The villain makes his way north and ends up joining the constabulary in a small town that has suffered a spate of burglaries. Identifying the crook, he takes from him the best of the stolen items but by this point Blake has arrived on the scene. Plummer manages to get away but does so empty handed.

32. Plummer in Society (UNION JACK issue 490, 1913)

33. Plummer's Gambling Den (UNION JACK issue 491, 1913)

More to come ... ...