THE BLACK TRINITY

by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to this criminal organisation for the benefit of new readers.

The "Nameless Three" are: Lydia the Russian, Herr Schwartzo and Clement Ellwood. Their rules are: Knowledge is death and trust nobody.

The Black Trinity

Sexton Blake's battle against the criminals who called themselves The Black Trinity occupied, with intervals, a period of about two years in all. The struggle was remarkable because the extraordinarily ruthless methods of the organisation made it almost impossible to get evidence against them; or, until Blake took the matter up, even to get proof of their existence. The Trinity never hesitated to commit murder and the criminal underworld was extremely sensitive to the fact that anyone who even mentioned their name was certain to end up dead. Thus, an impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounded the organisation.

Throughout his two year struggle to expose the brains behind the organisation and bring them to justice, Sexton Blake was subject to numerous assassination attempts. They tried to shoot him, stab him, gas him and poison him. When brute force failed, they attempted to discredit him.

Their methods were often clumsy — one could always predict that they would send their villainous envoys out in pairs; one to do the job and the other to ensure that it was done and, if necessary, to punish the failure of the first man — yet equally unquestionable is the genius of their leader; the individual who was content to appear to be an underling while another acted as spokesman.

For a long time this fact was unsuspected even by Sexton Blake, and his first blows were aimed at a nonentity. It was not until he had smashed Schwartzo — the "man of straw" — that he divined the truth, and was at last able to achieve the task he had set before himself. In this he received vital assistance from Secret Service agent, Julia Fortune. She had been investigating the Trinity from a different angle than Blake, though it brought her to the same location, at the same time. Furthermore, when confronted by the young man who headed the organisation, Miss Fortune was able to recognise that 'he' was actually a woman masquerading as a man. In fact, it was a woman she knew; Lydia, a native of St. Petersburg.

In the final minutes of The Black Trinity's existence, Lydia demonstrated just how ruthless she could be by attempting to take her own life — along with the lives of her remaining gang members. Her aim for herself succeeded — though not in the way she intended — but she failed to eliminate her followers and they fell into the hands of the authorities, marking the final destruction of The Black Trinity.

Chronology:

1. The Coming of the Black Trinity (UNION JACK issue 1,228, 1927)
When Clement Ellwood murders the man who married the woman he loved, Sexton Blake takes up the case. It quickly emerges that Ellwood is one of the three men who make up The Black Trinity, a criminal organisation whose existence Blake has suspected for a couple of years. The Trinity, in an attempt to maintain its secrecy, arranges the murder of many of the people who Blake approaches in the course of his investigation. Ultimately, the detective is able to prove Ellwood the killer — and the guilty man ends up shot dead — but he makes little progress in his quest to expose the remaining members of the 'Nameless Three'.

2. The Trail of the Nameless Three (UNION JACK issue 1,229, 1927)
In Smith's Kitchen Zenith the Albino witnesses The Black Trinity standing in judgment over a captive — Sexton Blake! But the albino recognises the detective's trickery — he has used his skills in disguise to swap places with the man sent to capture him. The Trinity also, ultimately, recognises this but the detective is able to escape. Blake then follows one of their gang members to a farmhouse where, once again, he is captured. Detective-Inspector Coutts and Tinker also fall into the Nameless Three's hands. All are sentenced to death but are rescued by Julia Fortune.

3. Sexton Blake — Suspect! (UNION JACK issue 1,230, 1927)
Schwartzo, one of the Nameless Three, puts into action a cunning plot to discredit Sexton Blake. However, with the aid of Julia Fortune, Blake begins to find evidence of the scheme — and fights back! Schwartzo kidnaps Miss Fortune and attempts to execute her on an electric chair. Blake arrives in the nick of time and, after a pitched battle, it is Schwartzo who is electrocuted. Documents which expose his plans are handed to Scotland Yard and Sexton Blake is exonerated.

4. The Case of the Phantom Head (UNION JACK issue 1,231, 1927)
After The Black Trinity commits a series of murders to protect its identity, Sexton Blake traces the gang to a house where the last remaining member of the Nameless Three — Lydia the Russian — is hiding out. He is captured and sentenced to death. Julia Fortune comes to his rescue while Tinker races to fetch Detective-Inspector Coutts and a squadron of policemen. With the house surrounded, Lydia attempts to gas herself and the remaining members of her gang. One of them objects and shoots her dead. The police swoop and the remnants of The Black Trinity are rounded up.

This marks the end of The Black Trinity.