Thursday, September 24, 2015

"This Family Has Had a Lot of Bad Luck"

"Murder's Handyman."
By Woodrow Wilson Smith (real name: Henry Kuttner, 1915-58).
(Note: This seems to be the only story for which Kuttner used the "Woodrow Wilson Smith" byline.)
First appearance: Popular Detective, March 1948.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE (or if the link fails go HERE and click on the title).
"When three of Paul Ogden’s relatives die—and he collects on their policies—Johnny Curtin decides to investigate!"
An insurance investigator's suspicions are aroused by several deaths which he's certain can't be just coincidences, but when he tries to catch the murderer he literally falls into a deadly trap set for somebody else.  . . . Yet another variation on the inheritance-by-murder plot that Agatha did so well; "Smith's" take, however, is only so-so in comparison. Several passages ensue:
". . . when you authorize the payment of two fifty-thousand-dollar policies and another thirty-thousand-dollar policy with one man as the beneficiary, you naturally get suspicious."  . . .
. . . "There’s an experiment I want to try."  . . .
. . . "I wouldn’t like your job," he said. "Not at all. You’re always following on the coattails of death."  . . .
. . . The water had flowed over. It was cold water. Johnny waded through it. He touched the body and found it stone cold. There was no way of telling how long the man had been dead.  . . .
Resources:
- "Woodrow Wilson Smith" was, of course, an alias for well-known SF-fantasy author Henry Kuttner; his FictionMags entry is HERE and a previous ONTOS article about one of his best science fiction-crime stories is HERE.

Category: I love you but not as much as your money

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