Sunday, June 21, 2020

"We Are Going Up the Ladder"

THERE WAS A TIME when America's federal police force, the F.B.I., enjoyed enormous popularity with the public through often highly fictionalized movies and magazines 
devoted to them, a prime example of which is . . .

By Robert R. Mill (1895-1942).
Illustrations by Austin Briggs (1908-73).
First appearance: Blue Book, September 1939.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Two lines transposed on page 78.)
     "I tell the world what a swell bunch they are to work for, and they tell the world how they hate to lose me. We both are liars . . ."

When civic lawlessness flares up and law enforcement can't do their job because their corrupt bosses won't let them, where do they go for help?

Principal characters:
~ Police Commissioner Golted of Bender City:
  ". . . honest at heart, courageous, rough and ready, but a firm believer in the magic of the nightstick, rather than the miracles of science."
~ Special Agent James "Duke" Ashby, F.B.I.:
  ". . . an exponent of the new school: A trained hunter of men, taught to make use of every aid science could extend . . ."
~ Big Steve Howak:
  ". . . runs this city."
~ Chief Inspector Martin Probar:
  ". . . gave an impression of capability and integrity, until the inspection was centered upon his shifty eyes, which were perhaps his outstanding feature."
~ Carl Sherman, head of the F.B.I. crime lab:
  ". . . peered through the glass. 'Plain as an electric sign,' was his verdict."
~ Vi:
  "Do I look like a truck?"
~ Bug-eye Sondus:
  ". . . is the weak sister of the trio . . ."
~ Sock Dracon:
  "What is the rap?"
~ District Attorney Samuel Leden:
  "Keep sitting on your brains, and let me do the thinking."
~ plus Special Agents Block, Holmes, Thomas, and Agent-in-Charge Edwards.
- "the policy racket": There are all kinds of illegal rackets; see Wikipedia (HERE) for a list and follow the links therefrom.
- "during Prohibition": Well-intentioned but a very bad idea; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "our ballistics department": Bullets can't tell lies, but people can; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "too hot in Atlanta, too dry in Leavenworth, and too damp in Alcatraz": A short list of well-known federal prisons of the day, the last the "star" of quite a few Hollywood movies and 
TV shows; see Wikipedia (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE and HERE).
- "the hot-squat": "(US, slang) The electric chair": Your Dictionary (HERE).
- "the Director": At the time it was J. Edgar Hoover, who served as the sixth Director of the F.B.I. for almost half a century: "On October 15, 1976, in reaction to the extraordinary 48-year term of J. Edgar Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 94-503, limiting the FBI Director to a single term of no longer than 10 years." See (HERE).
- If you've been following this weblog, then you've already met with Robert R. Mill, primarily through his "Tiny" David stories, the latest of which we featured (HERE).

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