Monday, February 8, 2016

"Off We Went to Nab a Crook"

"The Ransom of EQMM #1."
By Arthur Vidro.
Short story (~11 pages).
Online at EQMM's "The Mystery Place" HERE.
"You have the right to remain silent. I strongly encourage you to exercise that right, else I'll get your parents here pronto and they'll give you a good whip-ping."
Homer Slocum of Shinn Corners (our first person narrator) is justifiably proud of his collection of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine going all the way back to the very first issue from 1941. When a local newspaper article features Homer's collection, he tolerates the un-wanted attention it brings—until that first issue suddenly goes missing. The police literally laugh in Homer's face, and since they're of no use he's forced to conclude:
I'd have to find EQMM #1 on my own.
Not too long afterwards Homer receives what amounts to a ransom note:
Here is picture proving we have your magazine and have not hurt it. To get it back, leave $500 cash in brown paper bag under elm tree outside police station. Tonight. Midnight. Or else it's curtains for your magazine. Each night you do not pay, we will draw an extra tail through the back-page double-tailed Q. Heck, we’ll even draw extra Qs. With permanent marker.
Once Homer shows them the note, the police stop laughing at least, but it will still fall to Homer to set a trap to catch the extortioner—"the key clue" (that "double-tailed Q") being the tip off, with another one that's been hiding in plain sight all along.

- The FictionMags issue listings for EQMM begin HERE.
- As regular ONTOS readers already know, Arthur Vidro edits that splendid publication (Give Me That) OLD-TIME DETECTION, reviews of which are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The bottom line: "If something is stolen from you, don't go to the police. They're not interest-ed. Don't go to a psychologist either, because he's interested in only one thing: that it was really you who did the stealing."
Karl Kraus

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