The Mill Creek Irregulars

The Mill Creek Irregulars
by August Derleth

"That's the next step," I said.  "To find out.  Are you game now?"

"I'm game," said Sim.

We shook on it.  "We're in the detective business," I said.  "We might not be as good as Sherlock Holmes—but we can do as much as his Baker Street Irregulars.  "We're Irregulars—we're the Mill Creek Irregulars!"

                                            —page 47, The Mill Creek Irregulars: Special Detectives

This series was written by Wisconsin author August Derleth.  The books were originally known as the Steve and Sim Stories or the Steve and Sim Mysteries.  The series later became known as the Mill Creek Irregulars.  Derleth enjoyed writing about Wisconsin, especially the area around Sauk City where he grew up.  Sauk City and neighboring Prairie Du Sac were combined into Sac Prairie, the setting for the Mill Creek Irregulars.

Titles in the Mill Creek Irregulars Series:

  1. The Moon Tenders, 1958
  2. The Mill Creek Irregulars: Special Detectives, 1959
  3. The Pinkertons Ride Again, 1960
  4. The Ghost of Black Hawk Island, 1961
  5. The Tent Show Summer, 1963
  6. The Irregulars Strike Again, 1964
  7. The House by the River, 1965
  8. The Watcher on the Heights, 1966
  9. The Prince Goes West, 1968
10. The Three Straw Men, 1970

The descriptions of Sac Prairie tally closely with Sauk City, Prairie Du Sac, and the immediate surrounding area in Wisconsin.  Viewing maps of this part of Wisconsin is most helpful while reading the series, since Derleth describes the area in great detail.

The series tells the story of friends Stephen "Steve" Grendon and Simoleon "Sim" Jones from the ages of approximately 13 to 16.  Steve is the voice of the series, which is written in first person.  August Derleth modeled Steve after himself, and he modeled Sim after his childhood friend, Hugo Schwenker.  Steve has an active imagination, seeing mysteries everywhere, while Sim is extremely practical and afraid of getting into trouble.  Sim is always reluctant when Steve has a new idea, but Steve always wins him over and gets him to participate in the latest mystery.

Steve and Sim are sometimes helped by a third boy, Pete Bandheim, who is extremely smart but capable of looking completely stupid while extracting information from others.  The boys frequently have trouble convincing adults about the plots they suspect, so the boys are forced to work on the cases by themselves without adult help.  The adults, especially village marshal Mike Kurth, act as frequent foils to the boys' plans.

All ten books were published in hardcover with dust jacket.  The first eight books were published by Duell, Sloan, and Pearce.  Volume nine was published by Meredith Press and volume ten by Candlelight Press.  All ten books have the same dimensions and comprise a uniform set when shelved, despite the difference in publishers.  In recent years, a fan reprinted the books in softcover, and the August Derleth Society plans to reprint the books sometime in the near future.

The books are findable, although not very common.  The scarcest book is The Ghost of Black Hawk Island.

Cover Art Gallery
My Mill Creek Irregulars Blog Posts
Excellent Mill Creek Irregulars Article
The August Derleth Society

Back to Main Page