Friday, March 23, 2018

"Strikes Me Both of Those Birds Have Skeletons in Their Mental Closets"

"The Monolith Hotel Mystery."
By Lloyd Lonergan (1870-1937).
First appearance: The Black Mask, August 1922.
Reprinted in Black Mask (U.K.), January 1929.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"A detective who falls down as bad as you have done ought to jump into the river."
The discovery of that body in Suite 817 seems to have a fairly straightforward solution, but it isn't long before several other tantalizingly plausible suspects suddenly start popping up; too many cooks, they say, spoil the broth, and while this case seems to have too many people trying to serve up a conviction, what's really needed is a detective who knows how to, well, detect . . .

~ Daniel Henderson, the little man in a hurry:
  "Don't bother about the change. Give it to the bellboys."
~ Pennington Wilson, the room clerk:
  "Just now he ran down, checked out in a tearing hurry, with some silly story about having to go to Brooklyn. Nobody in Brooklyn is awake at this hour of the night."

~ Spencer, the house detective:
  "You'll get the gravy, all right, for I'm going to put you wise to a line of stuff that you must seem to find out for yourself. Get me?"

~ Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, the corpus delicti:
  "On the floor was the body of a well-dressed young woman, and a bullet wound in the side of her head showed clearly the cause of death."

~ Kenneth Johnson, the grieving husband:
  ". . . his wife was taking a nap and he didn't want to annoy her. That's his story. But, if Mrs. Johnson was taking a nap, why did she have on her hat when the body was found?"

~ Marty O'Donohue, "a Headquarters sleuth":
  "Call up the precinct, Spencer. It's their job. Good-night."

~ "Big Jim" Mahoney, police captain:
  "Desmond, there's some tall explaining coming from you. Headquarters has put it all over us on this case, and is giving us the merry laugh. What have you done? Nothing!"

~ Desmond, West Forty-seventh Street detective:
  "The murderer is now resting in one of our best little cells, and we have all night to chat with him, for we don't need to take him to court until the morning."

~ The District Attorney:
  "To tell the truth, it looks to me as if all of these three men are guilty, but it is also equally clear that if one of them is the murderer, the others are innocent."

~ James Dineen, Inspector of Detectives:
  "In the meantime I'll get everybody busy and see what we can dig up."

~ Tom Halloran, retired police captain:
  "Your worries are over on that particular case. This bright young nephew of mine has cleaned it up."

~ Neil Mooney, "a real, honest-to-God detective":
  "Of course this was only an idea of mine, based on the assumption that all three men under arrest had told absolutely true stories."

~ Nora Riley, "the girl":
  ". . . the whole bunch were out-classed by one little Irish chambermaid and one big Irish policeman."

- FictionMags credits Lloyd F. Lonergan with eight stories in Black Mask (1921-22) and three in Mystery Magazine (1923)—after that, silence; also, we're assuming that the entries in Wikipedia (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE) apply to our author.

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