By Albert Edward Ullman (1879-?).
First appearance: Thrilling Detective, January 1932.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE.
"Sudden Darkness—the Grim Hand of Death Strikes—And the Unknown Murderer There on the Movie Lot!"Inspector Corot is a sharp cop, but even he has trouble making headway in this case of murder on the set:
. . . For a moment there was dead silence, then out of the Stygian blackness came a piercing, shattering scream of agony, a frenzied cry that froze the blood. Then a thud, as of a falling body. . . .As for the unusual murder weapon, a Philippine bolo, the M.E. is more impressed with the killer who wielded it:
. . . "Only a man—with the strength of a brute—could inflict such a wound," vigorously asserted the examiner. "It’s demoniacal!" . . .The victim, though, is "a mystery woman":
. . . Stony-faced, some had called her at her first appearance upon the lot. But under the magic touch of the director, some spark of life had kindled, to make of her a creature of flame and passion. However, when not acting, she was passive, unresponsive, like a woman buried within herself. . . .Gruff Detective-Sergeant Moody's investigation leads to a sobering conclusion:
. . . "Not so much as a penknife on any of those babies, though there were plenty of corkscrews . . . There was two actors in front of that door, and they’re just as certain that nobody passed them in the dark. If everybody’s right, then the murderer didn’t lam. He’s still with us!" . . .Inspector Corot admits:
". . . this is a mystery within a mystery. Were we to solve the modus operandi of the murder, we would still be confronted with the problem of the slayer." . . .The solution, when it comes to the Inspector, arrives in a flash on four legs:
. . . It was on the evening of the third day that the slight figure of the head of the Homicide Squad shot out of the projection room and flashed by so fast that the newspaperman’s frantic dash to the lower street level enabled him only to see the retreating tail-light of the police car. On the silent screen in the dark room something had pointed a finger of guilt at the murderer! . . .
- Amazingly enough, a similar situation arose in a movie at almost the same time; see HERE for more.
- Ullman's FictionMags listing is HERE.
Category: Thanks to our sleuth's reticence, you'll never figure this one out on your own