Saturday, February 6, 2016

"A Terrific Haymaker Sent the Detective Crashing into the Office Furniture"

"Disturb the Dead."
By Sam Merwin, Jr. (1910-96).
First appearance: Thrilling Mystery, March 1942.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at PulpGen HERE.
"A Murder and a Jewel Theft Take Bill Post on a Strange Graveyard Trail"
While insurance investigator Bill Post officially works for Twin-A, the Twin-American Insurance Company, as a practical matter he has to answer to his boss, an impatient man who doesn't like it when Post comes up empty-handed. In this instance, much to Post's chagrin, the police have already nabbed Pete Mydans, a "dapper thief" who likes to sport pink and white carnations in his lapels, on a minor charge; Post, however, knows for sure that Mydans made off with the Mallory jewels worth a cool two hundred grand and has been chasing him everywhere, but now can only do a slow burn when Mydans taunts him from behind bars.

Things take a turn for the better, though, when our insurance investigator discovers solid connections between Mydans's carnations, a murdered undertaker, "a hulking hairless Hibernian whose rough hands and weather-beaten face gave the lie to his neatly-pressed dark suit," and a "long-jawed man with a red face, loud clothes and a glittering diamond horseshoe tie pin"—the last being especially out of place in a chilly graveyard at midnight.

Resources:
- Since we've already encountered Sam Merwin in science fiction mode in the previous posting, you can find offsite links to his other work THERE, while a brief discussion of another one of his mystery stories is HERE.

The bottom line: "That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the knave jowls it to the ground as if ’twere Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder!"
Shakespeare

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