Short Story-Agent Frank Dobbs & The Case of the Time Bandit Robberies

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Of course, if he had happened to be that sort of person, here was the opportunity of a lifetime. The immense booty, the empty house, the solitary neighbourhood, away from the main road and from other habitations; the time, the darkness—but, of course, there was the body to be thought of; that was always the difficulty. What to do with the body? Here he caught the shriek of the up express, rounding the curve in the line that ran past the waste land at the back of the house. The sound started a new train of thought, and, as he followed it out, his eyes fixed themselves on the unconscious and taciturn Brodski, as he sat thoughtfully sipping his whisky.

At length, averting his gaze with an effort, he rose suddenly from his chair and turned to look at the clock on the mantelpiece, spreading out his hands before the dying fire. A tumult of strange sensations warned him to leave the house. He shivered slightly, though he was rather hot than chilly, and, turning his head, looked at the door. A desire, sudden and urgent, had come over him to get out into the open air, to be on the road and have done with this madness that was knocking at the door of his brain.

I don't see the use of starting before we need. A wave of strange emotion, half-regretful, half-triumphant, surged through his brain. For some moments he remained standing on the threshold, looking out dreamily into the night. Then he softly closed the door; and, seemingly without the exercise of his volition, the key turned noiselessly in the lock. He returned to his chair and tried to open a conversation with the taciturn Brodski, but the words came faltering and disjointed. He felt his face growing hot, his brain full and intense, and there was a faint, high-pitched singing in his ears.

He was conscious of watching his guest with a new and fearful interest, and, by sheer force of will, turned away his eyes; only to find them a moment later involuntarily returning to fix the unconscious man with yet more horrible intensity. And ever through his mind walked, like a dreadful procession, the thoughts of what that other man—the man of blood and violence—would do in these circumstances.

Detail by detail the hideous synthesis fitted together the parts of the imagined crime, and arranged them in due sequence until they formed a succession of events, rational, connected and coherent. He rose uneasily from his chair, with his eyes still riveted upon his guest. He could not sit any longer opposite that man with his hidden store of precious gems.

The impulse that he recognized with fear and wonder was growing more ungovernable from moment to moment. If he stayed it would presently overpower him, and then? He shrank with horror from the dreadful thought, but his fingers itched to handle the diamonds. For Silas was, after all, a criminal by nature and habit. He was a beast of prey. His livelihood had never been earned; it had been taken by stealth or, if necessary, by force.

His instincts were predacious, and the proximity of unguarded valuables suggested to him, as a logical consequence, their abstraction or seizure. His unwillingness to let these diamonds go away beyond his reach was fast becoming overwhelming. But he would make one more effort to escape. He would keep out of Brodski's actual presence until the moment for starting came. After all this dry weather we may get a change, and damp feet are very uncomfortable when you are travelling.

Silas walked through into the adjoining kitchen, where, by the light of the little lamp that was burning there, he had seen his stout, country boots placed, cleaned and in readiness, and sat down upon a chair to make the change. He did not, of course, intend to wear the country boots, for the diamonds were concealed in those he had on. But he would make the change and then alter his mind; it would all help to pass the time.

He took a deep breath. It was a relief, at any rate, to be out of that room. Perhaps if he stayed away, the temptation would pass. Brodski would go on his way—he wished that he was going alone—and the danger would be over—at least—and the opportunity would have gone—the diamonds—? He looked up as he slowly unlaced his boot. From where he sat he could see Brodski sitting by the table with his back towards the kitchen door. He had finished eating, now, and was composedly rolling a cigarette. Silas breathed heavily, and, slipping off his boot, sat for a while motionless, gazing steadily at the other man's back.

Then he unlaced the other boot, still staring abstractedly at his unconscious guest, drew it off, and laid it very quietly on the floor. Brodski calmly finished rolling his cigarette, licked the paper, put away his pouch, and, having dusted the crumbs of tobacco from his knees, began to search his pockets for a match. Suddenly, yielding to an uncontrollable impulse, Silas stood up and began stealthily to creep along the passage to the sitting-room. Not a sound came from his stockinged feet.

Silently as a cat he stole forward, breathing softly with parted lips, until he stood at the threshold of the room. His face flushed duskily, his eyes, wide and staring, glittered in the lamplight, and the racing blood hummed in his ears. Brodski struck a match—Silas noted that it was a wooden vesta—lighted his cigarette, blew out the match and flung it into the fender.

Then he replaced the box in his pocket and commenced to smoke. Slowly and without a sound Silas crept forward into the room, step by step, with catlike stealthiness, until he stood close behind Brodski's chair—so close that he had to turn his head that his breath might not stir the hair upon the other man's head. So, for half-a-minute, he stood motionless, like a symbolical statue of Murder, glaring down with horrible, glittering eyes upon the unconscious diamond merchant, while his quick breath passed without a sound through his open mouth and his fingers writhed slowly like the tentacles of a giant hydra.

And then, as noiselessly as ever, he backed away to the door, turned quickly and walked back into the kitchen. He drew a deep breath. It had been a near thing. Brodski's life had hung upon a thread For it had been so easy. Indeed, if he had happened, as he stood behind the man's chair, to have a weapon—a hammer, for instance, or even a stone?

He glanced round the kitchen and his eyes lighted on a bar that had been left by the workmen who had put up the new greenhouse. It was an odd piece cut off from a square, wrought-iron stanchion, and was about a foot long and perhaps three-quarters of an inch thick. Now, if he had had that in his hand a minute ago—. He picked the bar up, balanced it in his hand and swung it round his head. A formidable weapon this: silent, too. And it fitted the plan that had passed through his brain. He had better put the thing down. But he did not.

He stepped over to the door and looked again at Brodski, sitting, as before, meditatively smoking, with his back towards the kitchen. Suddenly a change came over Silas. His face flushed, the veins of his neck stood out and a sullen scowl settled on his face. He drew out his watch, glanced at it earnestly and replaced it.

Then he strode swiftly but silently along the passage into the sitting-room.

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A pace away from his victim's chair he halted and took deliberate aim. The bar swung aloft, but not without some faint rustle of movement, for Brodski looked round quickly even as the iron whistled through the air. The movement disturbed the murderer's aim, and the bar glanced off his victim's head, making only a trifling wound. Brodski sprang up with a tremulous, bleating cry, and clutched his assailant's arms with the tenacity of mortal terror.

Then began a terrible struggle, as the two men, locked in a deadly embrace, swayed to and fro and trampled backwards and forwards. The chair was overturned, an empty glass swept from the table and, with Brodski's spectacles, crushed beneath stamping feet. And thrice that dreadful, pitiful, bleating cry rang out into the night, filling Silas, despite his murderous frenzy, with terror lest some chance wayfarer should hear it. Gathering his great strength for a final effort, he forced his victim backwards onto the table and, snatching up a corner of the tablecloth, thrust it into his face and crammed it into his mouth as it opened to utter another shriek.

And thus they remained for a full two minutes, almost motionless, like some dreadful group of tragic allegory. Then, when the last faint twitchings had died away, Silas relaxed his grasp and let the limp body slip softly onto the floor. It was over. For good or for evil, the thing was done.

Silas stood up, breathing heavily, and, as he wiped the sweat from his face, he looked at the clock. The hands stood at one minute to seven. The whole thing had taken a little over three minutes. He had nearly an hour in which to finish his task The goods train that entered into his scheme came by at twenty minutes past, and it was only three hundred yards to the line.

Still, he must not waste time. He was now quite composed, and only disturbed by the thought that Brodski's cries might have been heard. If no one had heard them it was all plain sailing. He stooped, and, gently disengaging the table-cloth from the dead man's teeth, began a careful search of his pockets. He was not long finding what he sought, and, as he pinched the paper packet and felt the little hard bodies grating on one another inside, his faint regrets for what had happened were swallowed up in self-congratulations. He now set about his task with business-like briskness and an attentive eye on the clock.

A few large drops of blood had fallen on the table-cloth, and there was a small bloody smear on the carpet by the dead man's head. Silas fetched from the kitchen some water, a nail-brush and a dry cloth, and, having washed out the stains from the table-cover—not forgetting the deal table-top underneath—and cleaned away the smear from the carpet and rubbed the damp places dry, he slipped a sheet of paper under the head of the corpse to prevent further contamination. Then he set the tablecloth straight, stood the chair upright, laid the broken spectacles on the table and picked up the cigarette, which had been trodden flat in the struggle, and flung it under the grate.

Then there was the broken glass, which he swept up into a dust-pan. Part of it was the remains of the shattered tumbler, and the rest the fragments of the broken spectacles. He turned it out onto a sheet of paper and looked it over carefully, picking out the larger recognizable pieces of the spectacle-glasses and putting them aside on a separate slip of paper, together with a sprinkling of the minute fragments. The remainder he shot back into the dust-pan and, having hurriedly put on his boots, carried it out to the rubbish-heap at the back of the house.

It was now time to start. Hastily cutting off a length of string from his string-box—for Silas was an orderly man and despised the oddments of string with which many people make shift—he tied it to the dead man's bag and umbrella and slung them from his shoulder. Then he folded up the paper of broken glass, and, slipping it and the spectacles into his pocket, picked up the body and threw it over his shoulder.

Brodski was a small, spare man, weighing not more than nine stone; not a very formidable burden for a big, athletic man like Silas. The night was intensely dark, and, when Silas looked out of the back gate over the waste land that stretched from his house to the railway, he could hardly see twenty yards ahead.

After listening cautiously and hearing no sound, he went out, shut the gate softly behind him and set forth at a good pace, though carefully, over the broken ground. His progress was not as silent as he could have wished for, though. The scanty turf that covered the gravelly land was thick enough to deaden his footfalls, the swinging bag and umbrella made an irritating noise; indeed, his movements were more hampered by them than by the weightier burden.

The distance to the line was about three hundred yards. Ordinarily he would have walked it in from three to four minutes, but now, going cautiously with his burden and stopping now and again to listen, it took him just six minutes to reach the three-bar fence that separated the waste land from the railway. Arrived here he halted for a moment and once more listened attentively, peering into the darkness on all sides. Not a living creature was to be seen or heard in this desolate spot, but far away, the shriek of an engine's whistle warned him to hasten.

Lifting the corpse easily over the fence, he carried it a few yards farther to a point where the line curved sharply. Here he laid it face downwards, with the neck over the near rail. Drawing out his pocket-knife, he cut through the knot that fastened the umbrella to the string and also secured the bag; and when he had flung the bag and umbrella on the track beside the body, he carefully pocketed the string, excepting the little loop that had fallen to the ground when the knot was cut.

The quick snort and clanking rumble of an approaching goods train began now to be clearly audible. Rapidly, Silas; drew from his pockets the battered spectacles and the packet of broken glass. The former he threw down by the dead man's head, and then, emptying the packet into his hand, sprinkled the fragments of glass around the spectacles.

He was none too soon. Already the quick, laboured puffing of the engine sounded close at hand. His impulse was to stay and watch; to witness the final catastrophe that should convert the murder into an accident or suicide. But it was hardly safe: it would be better that he should not be near lest he should not be able to get away without being seen. Hastily he climbed back over the fence and strode away across the rough fields, while the train came snorting and clattering towards the curve.

He had nearly reached his back gate when a sound from the line brought him to a sudden halt; it was a prolonged whistle accompanied by the groan of brakes and the loud clank of colliding trucks. The snorting of the engine had ceased and was replaced by the penetrating hiss of escaping steam. For one brief moment Silas stood with bated breath and mouth agape like one petrified; then he strode forward quickly to the gate, and, letting himself in, silently slid the bolt. He was undeniably alarmed. What could have happened on the line? It was practically certain that the body had been seen; but what was happening now?

He entered the kitchen, and having paused again to listen—for somebody might come and knock at the door at any moment—he walked through the sitting-room and looked round. All seemed in order there. There was the bar, though, lying where he had dropped it in the scuffle. He picked it up and held it under the lamp. There was no blood on it; only one or two hairs. Somewhat absently he wiped it with the table-cover, and then, running out through the kitchen into the back garden, dropped it over the wall into a bed of nettles.

Not that there was anything incriminating in the bar, but, since he had used it as a weapon, it had somehow acquired a sinister aspect to his eye. He now felt that it would be well to start for the station at once. It was not time yet, for it was barely twenty-five minutes past seven; but he did not wish to be found in the house if any one should come.

His soft hat was on the sofa with his bag, to which his umbrella was strapped. He put on the hat, caught up the bag and stepped over to the door; then he came back to turn down the lamp. And it was at this moment, when he stood with his hand raised to the burner, that his eyes, travelling by chance into the dim corner of the room, lighted on Brodski's grey felt hat, reposing on the chair where the dead man had placed it when he entered the house.

Silas stood for a few moments as if petrified, with the chilly sweat of mortal fear standing in beads upon his forehead. Another instant and he would have turned the lamp down and gone on his way; and then—? He strode over to the chair, snatched up the hat and looked inside it. Yes, there was the name, "Oscar Brodski," written plainly on the lining. If he had gone away, leaving it to be discovered, he would have been lost; indeed, even now, if a search-party should come to the house, it was enough to send him to the gallows.

His limbs shook with horror at the thought, but in spite of his panic he did not lose his self-possession. Darting through into the kitchen, he grabbed up a handful of the dry brush-wood that was kept for lighting fires and carried it to the sitting-room grate where he thrust it on the extinct, but still hot, embers, and crumpling up the paper that he had placed under Brodski's head—on which paper he now noticed, for the first time, a minute bloody smear—he poked it in under the wood, and striking a wax match, set light to it. As the wood flared up, he hacked at the hat with his pocket knife and threw the ragged strips into the blaze.

And all the while his heart was thumping and his hands a-tremble with the dread of discovery. The fragments of felt were far from inflammable, tending rather to fuse into cindery masses that smoked and smouldered than to burn away into actual ash. Moreover, to his dismay, they emitted a powerful resinous stench mixed with the odour of burning hair, so that he had to open the kitchen window since he dared not unlock the front door to disperse the reek. And still, as he fed the fire with small cut fragments, he strained his ears to catch, above the crackling of the wood, the sound of the dreaded footsteps, the knock on the door that should be as the summons of Fate.

The time, too, was speeding on. Twenty-one minutes to eight! In a few minutes more he must set out or he would miss the train. He dropped the dismembered hat-brim on the blazing wood and ran upstairs to open a window, since he must close that in the kitchen before he left. When he came back, the brim had already curled up into a black, clinkery mass that bubbled and hissed as the fat, pungent smoke rose from it sluggishly to the chimney.

Nineteen minutes to eight! It was time to start. He took up the poker and carefully beat the cinders into small particles, stirring them into the glowing embers of the wood and coal. There was nothing unusual in the appearance of the grate. It was his constant custom to burn letters and other discarded articles in the sitting-room fire: his housekeeper would notice nothing out of the common.

Indeed, the cinders would probably be reduced to ashes before she returned. He had been careful to notice that there were no metallic fittings of any kind in the hat, which might have escaped burning. Once more he picked up his bag, took a last look round, turned down the lamp and, unlocking the door, held it open for a few moments.

Then he went out, locked the door, pocketed the key of which his housekeeper had a duplicate and set off at a brisk pace for the station. He arrived in good time after all, and, having taken his ticket, strolled through onto the platform. The train was not yet signalled, but there seemed to be an unusual stir in the place. The passengers were collected in a group at one end of the platform, and were all looking in one direction down the line; and, even as he walked towards them, with a certain tremulous, nauseating curiosity, two men emerged from the darkness and ascended the slope to the platform, carrying a stretcher covered with a tarpaulin.

The passengers parted to let the bearers pass, turning fascinated eyes upon the shape that showed faintly through the rough pall; and, when the stretcher had been borne into the lamp-room, they fixed their attention upon a porter who followed carrying a hand-bag and an umbrella. I could swear to it. You remember Brodski? It belongs to a gentleman named Brodski. If you look in his hat you will see his name written in it. He always writes his name in his hat. Then perhaps you would step into the lamp-room and see if you can identify the body.

Took his head clean off, in fact. You don't think it's necessary, doctor, do you? Very reluctantly he allowed himself to be conducted by the station-master to the lamp-room, as the clang of the bell announced the approaching train. Silas Hickler followed and took his stand with the expectant crowd outside the closed door.

In a few moments the passenger burst out, pale and awe-stricken, and rushed up to his tall friend. Poor old Brodski! He was to have met me here and come on with me to Amsterdam. His clerk will know, of course. By the way, doctor, could you watch the case for me? Just to be sure it was really an accident or—you know what. We were old friends, you know, fellow townsmen, too; we were both born in Warsaw.

I'd like you to give an eye to the case. Will that do? It's excessively good of you, doctor. I hope it won't inconvenience you to stay and see to this matter. Silas looked long and curiously at the tall, imposing man who was, as it were, taking his seat at the chessboard, to play against him for his life. A formidable antagonist he looked, with his keen, thoughtful face, so resolute and calm. As Silas stepped into his carriage he thought with deep discomfort of Brodski's hat, and hoped that he had made no other oversight.

The singular circumstances that attended the death of Mr. Oscar Brodski, the well-known diamond merchant of Hatton Garden, illustrated very forcibly the importance of one or two points in medico-legal practice which Thorndyke was accustomed to insist were not sufficiently appreciated. What those points were, I shall leave my friend and teacher to state at the proper place; and meanwhile, as the case is in the highest degree instructive, I shall record the incidents in the order of their occurrence.

The dusk of an October evening was closing in as Thorndyke and I, the sole occupants of a smoking compartment, found ourselves approaching the little station of Ludham; and, as the train slowed down, we peered out at the knot of country, people who were waiting on the platform. Suddenly Thorndyke exclaimed in a tone of surprise: "Why, that is surely Boscovitch! But what in the name of fortune are you doing at—what's the name of the place—Ludham?

Boscovitch explained. But whither are you two bound? I see you have your mysterious little green box up on the hat-rack, so I infer that you are on some romantic quest, eh? Going to unravel some dark and intricate crime? I am instructed to watch the proceedings at an inquest there to-morrow on behalf of the Griffin Life Insurance Office, and we are travelling down to-night as it is rather a cross-country journey. Boscovitch continued to stare up at the little square case covered with Willesden canvas.

Presently he remarked: "I often used to wonder what you had in it when you were down at Chelmsford in connection with that bank murder—what an amazing case that was, by the way, and didn't your methods of research astonish the police! As a matter of fact he was rather proud of his "portable laboratory," and certainly it was a triumph of condensation, for, small as it was—only a foot square by four inches deep—it contained a fairly complete outfit for a preliminary investigation.

But are these tiny things really efficient? That microscope now—? Of course a full-sized instrument would be infinitely more convenient—but I shouldn't have it with me, and should have to make shift with a pocket-lens. And so with the rest of the under-sized appliances; they are the alternative to no appliances.

Boscovitch pored over the case and its contents, fingering the instruments delicately and asking questions innumerable about their uses; indeed, his curiosity was but half appeased when, half-an-hour later, the train began to slow down. You change here too, don't you? As we stepped out onto the platform, we became aware that something unusual was happening or had happened.

All the passengers and most of the porters and supernumeraries were gathered at one end of the station, and all were looking intently into the darkness down the line. The station-master has gone down with a stretcher to bring him in, and I expect that is his lantern that you see coming this way. As we stood watching the dancing light grow momentarily brighter, flashing fitful reflections from the burnished rails, a man came out of the booking-office and joined the group of onlookers.

He attracted my attention, as I afterwards remembered, for two reasons: in the first place his round, jolly face was excessively pale and bore a strained and wild expression, and, in the second, though he stared into the darkness with eager curiosity he asked no questions. The swinging lantern continued to approach, and then suddenly two men came into sight bearing a stretcher covered with a tarpaulin, through which the shape of a human figure was dimly discernible.

They ascended the slope to the platform, and proceeded with their burden to the lamp-room, when the inquisitive gaze of the passengers was transferred to a porter who followed carrying a handbag and umbrella and to the station-master who brought up the rear with his lantern. Thorndyke nodded, and Boscovitch, turning once more to the porter, said: "I identify that umbrella. If you look in his hat, you will see his name written in it.

Boscovitch recoiled with a look of alarm. You don't think it necessary, doctor, do you? His inspection must have been of the briefest, for, in a few moments, he burst out, pale and awe-stricken, and rushed up to Thorndyke. Poor" old Brodski! Ah, here comes the train. I hope it won't inconvenience you to stay and see to the matter. As Thorndyke spoke, the stranger, who had kept close to us with the evident purpose of hearing what was said, bestowed on him a very curious and attentive look; and it was only when the train had actually come to rest by the platform that he hurried away to find a compartment.

No sooner had the train left the station than Thorndyke sought out the station-master and informed him of the instructions that he had received from Boscovitch. I suppose they have been informed? In fact, I think I will slip out to the approach and see if he is coming.

As the official departed, Thorndyke and I began to pace the now empty platform, and my friend, as was his wont, when entering on a new inquiry, meditatively reviewed the features of the problem. Now the only general facts at present in our possession are that the deceased was a diamond merchant making a journey for a specific purpose and probably having on his person property of small bulk and great value.

These facts are somewhat against the hypothesis of suicide and somewhat favourable to that of homicide. Facts relevant to the question of accident would be the existence or otherwise of a level crossing, a road or path leading to the line, an enclosing fence with or without a gate, and any other facts rendering probable or otherwise the accidental presence of the deceased at the spot where the body was found. As we do not possess these facts, it is desirable that we extend our knowledge.

As the engine turned, the head-lights shone on it and then he saw it was a man. He shut off steam at once, blew his whistle, and put the brakes down hard, but, as you know, sir, a goods train takes some stopping; before they could bring her up, the engine and half-a-dozen trucks had gone over the poor beggar.

He was lying on his face with his neck over the near rail on the downside. His head was in the four-foot and his body by the side of the track. It looked as if he had laid himself out a-purpose. No crossing, no road, no path, no nothing," said the porter, ruthlessly sacrificing grammar to emphasis. Deliberate suicide is what it looks like. The station-master told me all about it as we walked down the line. Thorndyke thanked the man for his information, and, as we strolled back towards the lamp-room, discussed the bearing of these new facts.

The man might, if he were near-sighted, deaf or stupid, have climbed over the fence and got knocked down by the train. But his position, lying across the rails, can only be explained by one of two hypotheses: either it was, as the porter says, deliberate suicide, or else the man was already dead or insensible. We must leave it at that until we have seen the body, that is, if the police will allow us to see it. But here comes the station-master and an officer with him.

Let us hear what they have to say. The two officials had evidently made up their minds to decline any outside assistance. The divisional surgeon would make the necessary examination, and information could be obtained through the usual channels. The production of Thorndyke's card, however, somewhat altered the situation.

The police inspector hummed and hawed irresolutely, with the card in his hand, but finally agreed to allow us to view the body, and we entered the lamp-room together, the station-master leading the way to turn up the gas. The stretcher stood on the floor by one wall, its grim burden still hidden by the tarpaulin, and the hand-bag and umbrella lay on a large box, together with the battered frame of a pair of spectacles from which the glasses had fallen out.

Thorndyke made a note in his pocket-book, and then, as the inspector removed the tarpaulin, he glanced down on the corpse, lying limply on the stretcher and looking grotesquely horrible with its displaced head and distorted limbs. For fully a minute he remained silently stooping over the uncanny object, on which the inspector was now throwing the light of a large lantern; then he stood up and said quietly to me: "I think we can eliminate two out of the three hypotheses.

The inspector looked at him quickly, and was about to ask a question, when his attention was diverted by the travelling-case which Thorndyke had laid on a shelf and now opened to abstract a couple of pairs of dissecting forceps. In his usual systematic fashion, Thorndyke slowly passed the lens along the whole range of sharp, uneven teeth, and then, bringing it back to the centre, examined with more minuteness the upper incisors. At length, very delicately, he picked out with his forceps some minute object from between two of the upper front teeth and held it in the focus of the lens.

Anticipating his next move, I took a labelled microscope-slide from the case and handed it to him together with a dissecting needle, and, as he transferred the object to the slide and spread it out with the needle, I set up the little microscope on the shelf. I handed him the bottle, and, when he had let a drop of the mounting fluid fall gently on the object and put on the cover-slip, he placed the slide on the stage of the microscope and examined it attentively.

Happening to glance at the inspector, I observed on his countenance a faint grin, which he politely strove to suppress when he caught my eye. He didn't die of unwholesome feeding. Thorndyke looked up with a smile. Every fact must have some significance, you know. These crumbs, for instance, that are scattered over the dead man's waistcoat.

Can we learn nothing from them? Thorndyke picked off the crumbs, one by one, with his forceps, and having deposited them on a slide, inspected them, first with the lens and then through the microscope. The others are already answered as far as I am, concerned. I should suggest that you search the body. The inspector gave vent to an exclamation of disgust. The dead man was a diamond merchant and had valuable property about him; therefore he was murdered. And, as to searching the body, why, that is what I principally came for. While he was thus occupied, Thorndyke looked over the body generally, paying special attention to the soles of the boots, which, to the inspector's undissembled amusement, he very thoroughly examined with the lens.

Thorndyke chuckled good-humouredly, and, while the officer continued his search, he looked over the articles that had already been laid on the box.

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The purse and pocket-book he naturally left for the inspector to open, but the reading-glasses, pocket-knife and card-case and other small pocket articles were subjected to a searching scrutiny. The inspector watched him out of the corner of his eye with furtive amusement; saw him hold up the glasses to the light to estimate their refractive power, peer into the tobacco pouch, open the cigarette book and examine the watermark of the paper, and even inspect the contents of the silver match-box.

I don't remember ever having seen pure Latakia smoked in cigarettes. That doesn't look much like robbery, does it? What do you say to the murder theory now? Has the engine been inspected? I'd better see before we start down the line. We emerged from the lamp-room and, at the door, found the station-inspector waiting with a telegram. He handed it to the station-master, who read it aloud. I find small smear of blood on near leading wheel and smaller one on next wheel following. No other marks. The station-master looked puzzled and was apparently about to ask for an explanation; but the inspector, who had carefully pocketed the dead man's property, was impatient to start and, accordingly, when Thorndyke had repacked his case and had, at his own request, been furnished with a lantern, we set off down the permanent way, Thorndyke carrying the light and I the indispensable green case.

What was it that so immediately determined the opinion of murder as against suicide? It was a glancing wound, and might easily have been made by the engine. But the wound had bled; and it had bled for an appreciable time. There were two streams of blood from it, and in both the blood was firmly clotted and partially dried.

But the man had been decapitated; and this wound, if inflicted by the engine, must have been made after the decapitation, since it was on the side most distant from the engine as it approached. Now, a decapitated head does not bleed. Therefore, this wound was inflicted before the decapitation. First, in the order of time as shown by the appearance of the stream, it had trickled down the side of the face and dropped on the collar. The second stream ran from the wound to the back of the head.

Now, you know, Jervis, there are no exceptions to the law of gravity. If the blood ran down the face towards the chin, the face must have been upright at the time; and if the blood trickled from the front to the back of the head, the head must have been horizontal and face upwards.

But the man when he was seen by the engine-driver, was lying face downwards. The only possible inference is that when the wound was inflicted, the man was in the upright position—standing or sitting; and that subsequently, and while he was still alive, he lay on his back for a sufficiently long time for the blood to have trickled to the back of his head. You must have noticed, too, that the tongue was very distinctly swollen and that on the inside of the upper lip were deep indentations made by the teeth, as well as one or two slight wounds, obviously caused by heavy pressure on the mouth.

Head of the Eighteenth police precinct, overseeing the area between Houston and Fifth Street, he was responsible for driving out and breaking up the Dutch Mob in Police detective who, as head of the Gambling Squad, used strong arm tactics to extort illegal gamblers. His role as an underworld figure was revealed when he was convicted and executed for ordering members of the Lenox Avenue Gang to murder gambler Herman Rosenthal.

During his career, he was responsible for the arrests of countless gang leaders and other criminals of the era. He was also the detective in charge of the murder investigation of Bowery prostitute and supposed Jack the Ripper victim Old Shakespeare. Daniel D. Sergeant John D. Police inspector involved during Chinatown's Tong wars. Captain Timothy J. Police official implicated in police corruption investigations during the s. Captain William S. Detective Joseph M. Police detective who pursued and captured a number of high-profile criminals, most notably, Whyos gang member Johnny Dolan in and embezzler Leon L.

Bernard in Deputy Commissioner George Samuel Dougherty. Police official who led detective squads in numerous raids during the NYPD's first campaign against New York's street gangs resulting in the arrests of over one hundred gang members. Commissioner Richard Edward Enright. Police commissioner from to He investigated Tammany Hall's "Honest" John Kelly and his links into illegal gambling including having his Vendome Club under surveillance.

Inspector Joseph A. Police detective and fingerprint expert involved in the Becker-Rosenthal trial. He convinced the widowed Becker to remove the silver plate, placed on the coffin itself, which claimed that Governor Whitman had murdered her husband and would likely be prosecuted for criminal libel. Captain George W. First leader of the "Steamboat Squad" which eventually cleared out the waterfront area of river pirates, including breaking up the Hook Gang , by Captain William H. Head of the Elizabeth Street Station. Chief George Washington Matsell. Police chief who battled river pirates in the Fourth Ward and later the area between the Seventh Ward and Corlears' Hook during the s.

His force of detectives and volunteer civilians were eventually able to break up the area's biggest gang the Daybreak Boys. Police official who closed down a number of well known panel houses including Shang Draper 's operation which led to the breakup of his criminal gang.

Captain Charles McDonnell. Police official who investigated vice districts, especially forced prostitution and white slavery, and arrested procuress "Jane the Grabber". Commissioner Douglas I. Senior police official who organized and led the NYPD's first campaign to rid the city of street gangs.

Supported by reform Mayor John Purroy Mitchel , he also instituted police reforms. Sergeant John J. Police detective assigned to the District Attory's office. He led a police squad against Owney Madden and Tanner Smith arresting the gang leaders after a gun battle. He was one of the earliest law enforcement officers to investigate organized crime and was later murdered in Palermo, Sicily while tracking down Black Hand extortionists.

Captain Max F. Police official implicated during investigations into police corruption. Testified that, as a police sergeant in the Tenderloin district, he collected payments from saloons, illegal gambling houses and other establishments and delivered to then precinct captain William Devery. Patrolman Dennis Sullivan.

Police officer assigned to the Charles Street police station who waged one man war against the Hudson Dusters. He was successful in arresting ten gang members single-handed before he was ambushed and brutally attacked by a group of the gang. A poem mocking the incident was later composed by its leader One Lung Curran and remained a popular underworld verse for a number of years. Inspector Alexander S.

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In , he led a "strong arm squad" into the district and was successful in breaking up the Gas House Gang. Senior police official who succeeded Douglas McCay as police commissioner and continued the NYPD's campaign against the city's street gangs. Secretary of War Edwin M. Overall commander of military forces in New York, Stanton authorized five regiments from Gettysburg to assist the New York Police Department in putting an end to the riots.

Brigadier General Harvey Brown. Commanding officer of regular Union Army forces in New York City, including reinforcements sent from Gettysburg, and directed military forces from police commissioner Thomas Action's office. Major General C. Veteran of the Police Riots of , he was a senior officer under Brigadier General Harvey Brown and organized the defense of the arsenal on Seventh Avenue.

Commanding a troop of cavalry and howitzers, he engaged a mob of rioters who had reportedly hung three African-Americans in the area of Thirty-Second Street and Eighth Avenue and successfully dispersed with artillery fire. Colonel H. Commander of the 11th New York Volunteers , who rushed to support police at the battle over the Seventh Avenue arsenal. He later visited his nearby home to visit his family, whom he discovered had left to stay with relatives in Brooklyn , he was caught by a local mob and slowly tortured to death.

Senior officer who led a large military force with Major Robinson and Colonel Jardine against rioters on First Avenue but were forced to flee after suffering a large number of casualties. Colonel Robert Nugent. Although considered a war hero of the original Irish Brigade , he later became a target during the riots as his home was attacked and looted by a mob. Commander of Hawkins' Zouaves , he served as a senior artillery officer to Colonel Cleveland Winslow and other military officers during the riots.

Captain Joel B. Provost Marshal assigned to the Ninth District and was attacked by several men as he attempted to collect names at a building on Broadway and Liberty Street. He battled the men for three hours, armed only with a pistol, before forced to return to headquarters without the names. Senior artillery officer under Colonel Thaddeus Mott and participant in the battle for the Seventh Avenue arsenal. Captain Henry F. Senior artillery officer under Brigadier General Harvey Brown.

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He led a detachment to Second Avenue where he relieved twenty-five soldiers and policemen trapped by rioters in Jackson's Foundry. Lieutenant Eagleson. Senior artillery officer under Colonel H. O'Brien and participant in the battle for the Seventh Avenue arsenal. Superintendent John A. He was attacked by a mob during an inspection of draft offices, unaware of early rioting, and was severely injured by a mob after leaving his carriage to investigate smoke coming from the Provost Marshal's office on Third Avenue.

Rescued by John Eagan , who was able to convince the crowd he was dead, Kennedy was taken to police headquarters and then to a hospital where he remained for the duration of the riots. Commissioner Thomas Coxon Acton. Senior police official who held joint command over police with Commissioner John Bergen after the attack on Superintendent John Kennedy. A prominent Republican politician, he was one of the founders of the Union League Club. Senior police official and commander of police forces with Commissioner Thomas Acton. Inspector Daniel C. Police detective who led squads against rioters in Broadway, the Fourth Ward, Second Avenue and other areas.

Police detective who led one hundred patrolman against rioters in Uptown Manhattan and co-led a large group of policemen with Inspector Daniel Carpenter against rioters in City Hall Park then fleeing after a failed attack on the New York Tribune. Folk later returned to Brooklyn where he was involved in suppressing rioting during the next few days and similarly saved the Brooklyn Eagle.

Gibbons, cousin of Horace Greeley , at Lamartine Place. Captain Samuel Brower. Police official who led a police detachment to cut down African Americans who had been hung from lamp posts. Captain John Cameron. Commander of the Eighteenth Precinct. He organized the defense of the State Armory and other buildings in the area.

Co-led a police force with drill officer Theron Copeland who defeated rioters in Clarkston Street and chased off mobs attacking African Africans. His men discovered the body of William Jones who had been tied to a tree and tortured to death. Led a force of two hundred officers into Second Avenue and recaptured the Union Steam Works , then being used as a headquarters and rallying point for rioters along the East Side Manhattan, after fierce hand-to-hand fighting against roughly five hundred rioters.

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Captain A. Captain John Jourdan. Led group of sixty men from the Sixth Precinct which battled rioters for over five hours while patrolling African American settlements north and east of the Five Points district during the first day of rioting. Captain Galen T. Police official under Superintendent Kennedy involved in organizing police detachments against rioters. During the first hours, he sent sixty patrolmen to reinforce police against rioters on Third Avenue.

Commanded police forces guarding the Broadway draft office. Captain Johannes C. He and Captain George Walling led an advanced guard into Ninth Avenue but forced to retreat under heavy fire from rioters. Attempted to make a last stand at Thirty-Fifth Street but whose force was one of many overwhelmed by rioters. Father of Henry V. Steers, longtime precinct captain of New York City Hall.

Captain Thomas Woolsey Thorne. He was also a participant in the Police Riot of Police official who organized the first "Strong Arm Squad" which was responsible for breaking up the Honeymoon Gang in Sided with Mayor Fernando Wood during the Police Riot of but later served a warrant for the mayor's arrest. He played a major role during the draft riots breaking up several large mobs in the Bowery and other nearby districts.

Led detachment from the First Precinct against rioters in the waterfront area and later took part in the defense of the New York Tribune. Sergeant Francis J. He was also a member of the "Steamboat Squad" later in his career. Sergeant Cornelius Burdick. He led thirty-two police officers of the "Broadway Squad", and also included Roundsmen Ferris and Sherwood, who relieved Sergeant Francis Banfield and his men who were defending state armory. Drill officer who co-led a police force with Captain John Dickson against rioters in Clarkston Street who were attacking local African Africans residents.

It was their detachment which discovered the body of William Jones who had been tied to a tree and tortured to death. Sergeant Frederick Ellison. Patrolman who led one of the first detachments against rioters, he was cut off from his men during the fighting at Third Avenue and Forty-Fourth Street and severely beaten by a mob. He remained unconscious throughout the fighting and was not rescued until the arrival of Sergeant Wade several hours later.

Sergeant John Mangin. Officer in command of a police detachment with fellow Sergeant S. Their later arrival eventually resulted in the defeat of rioters at Third Avenue and Forty-Fourth Street. Sergeant Robert A. He and Sergeant Wolfe spearheaded an attack against rioters as police were slowly being driven down Third Avenue.

McCredie forced the rioters back to Forty-Fifth Street but were eventually overwhelmed. Sergeant Stephen B. Sergeant Van Orden. He had been ordered by Superintendent Kennedy to protect the building after reports that members of the Knights of the Golden Circle would attempt to capture the arsenal. Sergeant Wade. Although the rioters initially forced police to retreat, he regrouped the remaining patrolman and managed to disperse the mob with the later arrival of Sergeants John Mangin and S. Sergeant Wolfe. A participant in the fighting against rioters at Third Avenue and Forty-Fourth Street, he and Sergeant Robert McCredie forced the rioters back to Forty-Fifth Street but were eventually overwhelmed by the thousands of advancing rioters.

Journalist and author of a hoax document published in the New York World and the Journal of Commerce which falsely claimed that President Abraham Lincoln had issued a proclamation to conscript , men into the Union Army. This caused a minor riot when, in May , a mob threatened to storm the Journal of Commerce. Howard was eventually arrested by detectives and escorted under a military armed guard where he was held at Fort Lafayette.

Henry J. Succeeded John Kelly as leader of Tammany Hall and remained a dominant influence in the city's politics up until the turn of the 20th century. Croker had a long history of receiving kickbacks and bribes from saloons, brothels and gambling dens throughout his political career but was cleared by the Lexow Committee. He was involved in bare-knuckle boxing and alleged to have been involved in the leader of the Fourth Avenue Tunnel Gang during his youth.

Thomas F. Saloon keeper and political organizer for Tammany Hall, "Big Tom" Foley employed Monk Eastman and his gang to commit election fraud on behalf of the political organization. Warren W. Attorney, judge and secretary for Tammany Hall. He was involved in the sentencing of many underworld figures between and William J.

One-time Mayor of New York who publicly remanded the NYPD of police brutality after a meeting with gang leader Tanner Smith who claimed had been beaten by police when he and Owney Madden had been playing cards. He later passed Order No. Previously closed saloons, dive bars and other establishments resumed operations, but few were able to recover from Hewitt's reforms.

Much of the traditional vice district of Sixth Avenue shifted to the old Tenth Ward by Abram Stevens Hewitt. Although Tammany Hall had supported Hewitt in his election campaign, Hewitt attacked Tammany political organizers by closing down a number of illegal establishments, including those owned by Billy McGlory, Frank Stephenson, Harry Hill and Theodore Allen.

He also shut down underworld saloons and dive bars in Satan's Circus and other such vice districts. Became mayor in amid charges of election fraud by Henry George supporters. Max Hochstein. Founder of the Howe and Hummel law firm who represented a number of underworld figures with his partner Abe Hummel throughout the 19th century.

Co-founder of the successful law firm Howe and Hummel with Bill Howe with whom they represented many of the city's criminal figures up until the turn of the 20th century. Five years after the death of Bill Howe, "Little Abe" Hummel was convicted of suborning perjury and sentenced to one year imprisonment.

John Kelly. Longtime leader of Tammany Hall during the mid-to late 19th century. Known as "Honest John" Kelly, he was involved in graft and illegal gambling. Tammany Hall political organizer, saloon keeper and noted pugilist who once fought Australian Kelly in a three and a half hour bout. George Law. Reform candidate who defeated William J. Gaynor to become Mayor of New York. He rescinded Order No. His home was targeted by rioters but were turned back by a fifty-man citizen guard. He also helped prosecute many of the city's notorious criminals during the NYPD's campaign against the street gangs in New York from to Governor of New York.

Democratic candidate during the United States presidential election of , he was the first Irish Catholic to run for the presidency of the United States. Charles S. Tammany Hall political organizer known as "Silver Dollar Smith". Was perhaps one of the most influential and powerful political figures in Tammany Hall during the turn of the 20th century.

Tim Sullivan. Younger cousin of Tim Sullivan known as "Little Tim". District Attorney who succeeded Charles Perkins and continued efforts to prosecute labor racketeers during the " Labor Slugger War " period. He was unable, however, to gain enough evidence against many of those charged by Perkins and forced to dismiss indictments for a number of union officials and organized crime figures in Charles Parkhurst's evidence of his corrupt administration.

District Attorney who prosecuted a number of high-profile criminals and underworld figures, most notably, police detective Charles Becker and the Lenox Avenue Gang for the murder of gambler Herman Rosenthal. One of the city's most colorful political figures, he was an early member of Tammany Hall and served as the Mayor of New York during the s and early s. Ex-police officer and associate of John Morrissey who together fought against the nativist Know Nothings during the s and 50s.

Paudeen McLaughlin. Former pugilist employed by Tammany Hall. He and Jim Turner were present during the murder of William Poole. Californian thug hired by Tammany Hall. Political organizer and "fixer" for Tammany Hall. He organized many so-called "sluggers" which battled the Know Nothings as well as committed voter intimidation and election fraud on behalf of Tammany Hall during the s and s. Sportsman and ex-pugilist employed by Tammany Hall.

He supported bare-knuckle boxer Yankee Sullivan in his feud with rival Tom Hyer to whom he lost to in a match for the American heavyweight championship in Publisher and writer who was associated with Isaiah Rynders and Tammany Hall during the s. Dirty Face Jack. Jack Dempsey. Bowery panhandler and resident of the infamous "Dump".

Jim Farrell. A prominent Bowery panhandler who, becoming blind from excessive drinking, was said to have been carried out of John Kelly's dive screaming and died in an alcoholics ward in Bellevue Hospital soon after. Tom Frizzell. Known as "King of the Panhandlers", Frizzell was a well-known character in the Bowery. Whitey Sullivan. Bowery panhandler later convicted of murder and sent to the electric chair. Grand Duke Alexis. Russian noble who reportedly discovered a destitute Russian countess working as a waitress at Bismark Hall whom he brought back to Russia.

Actor whose performance at the Bowery Theater was interrupted by a riot between Whig and Tammany Hall supporters in July Raymond Hitchcock. Vaudevillian and silent film actor who owned the Chinese Theater in Chinatown during the Tong wars. William Charles Macready. Actor and honorary member of the Chuck Conners Club. Nellie Noonan. John L. Author of Stevens' Travels , whose description of Egyptian mausoleums would later be used in the construction of The Tombs.

Thug for hire known as "Big Mike", he was often hired by Chinatown's underworld figures during feuds between rival Tongs until his mysterious death in Chinatown actor and comedian who was associated with the On Leong Tong and later killed during the Tong wars. First Cantonese immigrant to settle in Chinatown and founded a successful cigar shop in Park Row. Chinese slave girl, also known as "Sweet Flower", whose murder caused a major gang war among the Tongs of New York's Chinatown. Chin Yin. Artist and calligrapher who helped design the Chinese theater in Chinatown. Ha Oi. Adopted daughter of Mock Duck.

Hom Ling. Chinese tragician who performed with comic Ah Hoon at the Chinese Theater. Chinatown Boss crime kingpin and tong leader. Tai Yu. Wife of Mock Duck. Barnett Baff. Celebrity businessman and "poultry king" whose murder was the result of a contract put out on him by business rivals. Owner of Churchill's , a restaurant and cabaret club, located between Broadway and Forty-Eighth Street and considered one of the top cafes in the city up until its close in Harris Cohen.

Baxter Street business owner whose success and popularity prompted other merchants to start a "franchise" of sorts by using the Cohen name on their respective stores. When McMahon appeared against Lamar in court, he was stabbed and beaten by members of the Eastman Gang as he entered the courthouse and was unable to testify. Rufus L. Alexander T. Richard K. New York publisher and editor of the Police Gazette.

He allowed Chuck Conners, a well-known political organizer of Tammany Hall, to stay at his tenement building free of charge in his old age. Mark Maguire. Sports writer for The Sun popularly known as "King of the Newsboys". Roy L. Journalist and associate of Chuck Conners. Walt H. Honorary member of the Chuck Conners Club. Journalist and author. Frank Ward O'Malley. Journalist for The Sun and associate of Chuck Conners.

Founder of the Howard Mission and, with several members of his congregation, stormed John Allen's notorious Fourth Ward dive bar and held a prayer meeting in Jacob Brown. Civil servant and city street commissioner who unsuccessfully proposed that the drainage area known as "the Collect" be drained and filled. One-time industrialist who was part of the committee which negotiated the purchase of the Old Brewery district on behalf of the Missionary Society in Journalist for Packard's Monthly from which he criticized a number of saloons, clubs and other immoral establishments.

Among these were John Allen and was the first to refer to him as "the wickedest man in New York". He was also one of the signatories of the Walter Street "street preaching" document which described attempts by religious leaders to convince saloon keepers and other criminal figures to abandon crime as a way of life. Journalist who studied the London police force and later published a series of articles on police reform among these including the introduction of a permanent uniform.

He was also one of the civilian volunteers who joined Police Chief George Washington Matsell in protecting the waterfront from river pirates. Judge and later member of the Supreme Court. While a recorder in his early career, he was the first judge to sentence Jack Zelig to prison.

A member of the Lexow Committee. In , he conducted an exhaustive report detailing illegal gambling operations active in the city. Attorney for the widow of Alexander T. He was involved in the burial and in the initial negotiations with grave robber Henry G. Romaine for the return of Stewart's body. Archbishop John Hughes. The first Roman Catholic archbishop appointed in New York City, he was one of the many religious leaders who attempted to call for reforms against crime and corruption.

He later appealed to mobs during the New York Draft Riots on the final day of the rioting. Lawyer and postmaster general who was involved with police Superintendent George Walling in the investigation and later negotiations with the grave robbers who had stolen and held for random the body of Alexander T. William Travers Jerome. District Attorney responsible for the conviction of Abe Hummel in and ordered raids on a number of illegal gambling resorts forcing many gamblers to leave the city, most notably, Richard Canfield.

Huie Kim. Chinese-born Christian missionary and founder of the Morning Star Mission. He spoke out against criminal figures in Chinatown and publicly condemned the Tong wars. A reformed gambler and alcoholic, he was the founder of McAuley's Mission which served free meals to the homeless on Water Street. It was originally opened as The Cremourne , the name of the popular dive bar next door, and was often confused by its patrons who often entered his place instead. He was supposed to have locked the front doors and not allow these customers to leave until they had listened to one of his sermons.

Lawyer who served as council for Rev. Charles Henry Parkhurst. Leader of the New York Society for the Prevention of Crime, a civic organization which protested against vice districts and police corruption, and whose campaign eventually revealed the "Tenderloin" police district and resulted in the resignations of Inspector Alexander S.

Williams and Captain William S. The organization also provided evidence of graft and political corruption to the Lexow and Mazet Committee. Lewis Morris Pease. He and his wife set up a room on Cross Street and later started a mission near the Old Brewery district from where they conducted humanitarian efforts including setting up schools for adults and children as well as providing legitimate employment by supervising garment work for local clothing manufacturers.

De Witt Talmage. Longtime street preacher who regularly spoke at the Brooklyn Tabernacle during the s and, with Rev. Henry Ward Beecher , visited vice districts in Manhattan Island where they conducted street sermons in areas which he often referred to as "the modern Gomorrah ". Abolitionist whose home was attacked by a mobs during rioting between Tammany Hall and the Know Nothings in John Allen's infamous Fourth Ward dance hall operated as a brothel and was a popular underworld hangout during the s and 60s.

Known as "the wickedest man in New York" , he and other saloon keepers battled reformers such as Oliver Dyer and Rev. Arnold who wished to rid the city of "immoral" establishments. Theodore Allen. Born to a prominent Methodist family, Allen was a criminal figure and underworld fence known as "The Dive Keeper" or simply "The Allen", who financed a number of illegal gambling operations and similar establishments.

Owner of The American Mabille , a high-class Broadway club, his brother John ran a gambling house while three other brothers were professional burglars. Owner of The Doctor's , a popular hangout for panhandlers and professional beggars popularly known as the "Bowery Bums". Bowery thief and saloon keeper who ran a popular Centre Street basement bar known as The Ruins.

Malloy was also a criminal associate of Patsy Conroy and his gang. Camphine ran one of the most infamous dive bars in the city, often serving colored camphine or rectified turpentine oil in place of whiskey, and was said to have caused insanity and delirium tremens of least patrons. Ed Coffee.

The bar was one of the most popular nightspots when it originally opened in and featured Billy Patterson as its head bartender. Saloon keeper, political "fixer" and underworld figure involved in illegal gambling. Saloon keeper and underworld figure simetimes associated with George Leonidas Leslie and his gang. But now with Buchanan on his side, perhaps Patton has a chance to save Spread Eagle and beat Bart Malvaise once and for all. Buchanan on the Prod is entertaining and lively, with strong atmosphere, lots of action, and occasional bits of comedy and romance to keep the spirit light.

Buchanan is a very likeable character, someone who is fast on the draw, but who will also take a moment to wink at a girl while the smoke is still clearing. During the writing of the sixth novel, Buchanan on the Prod , Ard passed away, so Robert Silverberg took over and completed this novel. Later on, several other writers who assumed the Jonas Ward pseudonym continued the series. A full bibliography and informative history on the Buchanan books is available at Mystery File. All in all, this is a classic Western that is sure to entertain.

Inches and seconds? Busted Flush will also be giving their deluxe treatment to Woodrell's novel Tomato Red this September, with a new introduction by Megan Abbott. Read more about it here. The story, I was happy to discover, was marvelous and did not disappoint one bit. Gerry—short for Geraldine—wants to share a secret with her boyfriend, Earl.

When the two return from skinny-dipping, however, a mysterious man claiming to be a police officer is waiting for them. Afraid of what the town and their families will think if their indiscretion was exposed, Gerry and Earl put off asking for help. Soon the situation spirals out of control, and Gerry must grow up and deal with the situation on her own. As Grove showed in Hell-Bent for Danger , he has a real feel for the darker impulses hiding within suburban security.

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That sense of threat and urgency, so primal to adolescence, comes across naturally in this story. Earl and the officer, while their roles are smaller, are no less well defined. As Gerry continues to take steps forward, both of the male characters come more and more into focus. The officer is no less a coward than Earl. Such critical portrayals of masculinity come as no surprise after Hell-Bent for Danger , which also features male protagonists who are ultimately emasculated for giving into their desires.

All in all, a great story by an underrated writer. Evan Lewis, who wrote the fabulous pirate adventure "The Mercy of Jean Lafitte," has recently found a Paul Cain story that has never been reprinted before. Cain's prose is hardboiled to the bone, action-packed, and at times blisteringly bleak.

I can't recommend his books highly enough: Seven Slayers his selected pulp stories and Fast One a novel. Thanks, Evan, for unearthing and sharing this story! Labels: Black Mask , Paul Cain. The Thriller Awards were announced last night at ThrillerFest. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Labels: Tom Piccirilli. In just six short pages, Bruen manages to pack in all that we love about his work—the personal tragedies of Tower co-written with Reed Farrel Coleman , the inimitable punchy poetry of The Guards , and the gut-busting humor of Bust , Slide , and The Max all co-written with Jason Starr —but he also manages to show a new side to his art as well.

Bruen is damn good at Westerns! It's funny, action-packed, and packs a solid punch at the end, and I can't recommend it highly enough. In between shots of whiskey he hears of an impending hanging that has everyone in town excited. Why, you ask? But there will never be another of his talent, I miss him so.

Let us be thankful for this. Day Keene delivers another solid, well-crafted mystery with Homicidal Lady , originally published by Graphic in The book is, after all, called Homicidal Lady , which points an accusatory finger even before the story begins. His most recent case resulted in the death penalty for James Conley, a convicted bank robber.

When she lost the case, she walked out on her husband. But that is only the beginning. On the run from the cops, Talbot must appeal to his wife, Jane, for help. Who to trust—Jane, who ran out on him, or Vickie, the mysterious woman whom he knows nothing about? Homicidal Lady is a case of a novel in which the main situation is actually more sympathetic than main character. I felt for his plight, but I never learned enough about his character to feel for him one way or the other.

The character of Vickie, likewise, is a little overly giving with her adoration. It works for the story and is a very convenient plot device , but I know that Keene is capable of a little more dimensionality. As a side note, the cover art to the Unibook reprint that I have was later used as the cover to James Reasoner's excellent Texas Wind. Labels: Day Keene , Graphic Books. Thursday, July 8, Catching up with Beat to a Pulp. Since they came out swinging over a year ago, they've been hurling pulpy left hooks every week, and they're connecting damn near every time, too.

Selectivity and consistency are two of the biggest merits of BTAP, and I have no doubt that Cranmer and Ash will keep up the good work for a long time coming. Now, if some of you are like me, sometimes the TBR pile gets overwhelming and you fall behind in your reading. While I look forward to their Sunday punches every week, lately I've fallen behind. So, consider this posting a way to "catch up" with BTAP, as well as get a sneak peak at some of the punches they have in store for the future.

Grainger, Cranmer's pen-name for his Western fiction. Continuing with characters that first appeared in Grainger's "Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil" from A Fistful of Legends , this new story follows the black marshal Gideon Miles as he hunts down an escaped criminal named Van Jones and his gang. Cranmer shows he's as perceptive at writing as he is at editing, giving us an original story that looks at an underexplored aspect of Western history the legacy of African Americans with a compelling and complex pair of main characters, and with plenty of that good ol' Western action.

I'm looking forward to more adventures with Cash and Miles. Even classic pulpsters like Fredric Brown wrote and published poetry occasionally, but King takes narrative poetry to a whole new level, crafting an intricate and imaginative story about an invention that starts altering reality as we know it. Things we see start disappearing, and things we've never seen before start appearing.

Publishing this one was well worth the risk. Smith's six minute movie is about a chance encounter between a jogger and a priest who meet on a park bench, one of whom might be a notorious killer who is terrorizing the city. Smartly crafted without the aid of dialogue no easy feat , the film ends with a darkly wry twist. Patti is as precise with subtle details as she is with her last-minute punches in the final paragraphs, and this story is no exception.

It's a lovely restaurant and the food is delicious. The story made me want to make a second visit sometime in the near future. While he was out looking for the ship, someone stole his home base, and he wants to get it back before they get to his rum! Outnumbered, surrounded by cannibalistic natives, and with a crew that doesn't know how to swim, Lafitte must figure out how to get his revenge. This is one hell of a good read: inventive, funny, and suspenseful. Set in the aftermath of World War I in England, a soldier named Sam Burgess receives a mysterious letter from his former captain asking to meeting near the Brighton Pier.

Along the way, he reminisces about their time spent together in a German prison camp, and the questions that were never answered one fateful day. It's another winning story that shows the site unafraid to take steps into new territory. If that weren't enough, BTAP has a busy lineup for the future. And this fall will also see their first print release, Beat to a Pulp: Round One. I'm thrilled to say that I am a part of this anthology with my essay "The History of Pulp. Check back to Beat to a Pulp often for more updates.

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