Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Your Mimi Has a Heart Like an Artichoke with a Leaf for Every Man"

"Riviera Renegade."
By Lawrence G. Blochman (1900-75).
First appearance: Collier's Weekly, November 20, 1948.
Reprinted in The Saint Detective Magazine, February 1956; The Saint Detective Magazine (U.K.), October 1956; and Creasey Mystery Magazine, May 1957.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at UNZ (start HERE) and (finish HERE; scroll down to page 72).
"It is not often that such a desirable woman so richly deserves to be murdered"
Sometimes war produces casualties years after the fighting has ended—and the guilty, too often, seem to escape their just punishment:
ACCORDING to the newspapers, Monsieur le Juge, you are the examining magistrate in the case of James Patterson, the American soldier who was arrested last night while carrying the body of a woman named Mimi Lacourt from a bench on the Promenade des Anglais. The papers say the soldier was about to dispose of the body in the sea, but—
A story told in the first person, it's a plea to spare the life of an American soldier accused of murder, offered by an expatriate artist who sat out the German occupation of France. As you'll see, he has good reason to defend his young friend . . .
Principal characters:
~ James Patterson:
   "Deliberately, Monsieur le Juge, as though I were doing penance, I forced myself to make friends with the G.I.s. I was in turn adopted by one of them from Iowa, my own state, a lad named Jim Patterson, who called me 'Pop.'"
~ Mimi Lacourt:
   "You knew Mimi Lacourt, of course. Everyone knew her—many quite intimately. She was a glittering ornament to our casinos before the war. She was extremely beautiful, as you know, with dark eyes that turned men's blood to strong wine. She wore clothes with an art that displayed her superb body as a jeweler exhibits a fabulous gem in his showcase."
~ Paul Murdock:
   "I hesitated about coming to you, Monsieur le Juge, because people in Nice call me a renegade, a bad American, and a collaborationist. It is true that I did not return to America when Marshal Pétain surrendered—perhaps because I was too comfortable in my Riviera villa, perhaps because I have lived in France for forty years, perhaps because, although I am no longer young, I still love to paint the red sea cliffs and the olive-covered hills and the houses drowsing in the sun beside the blue Mediterranean."
~ Major (now Mr.) Giacomo:
   "In Cannes I again ran into my friend Major Giacomo, only now he was Mr. Giacomo and wore civilian clothes. After the Americans came to Italy, he had thrown away his Fascist uniform, produced his U.S. citizenship papers, and gone to work for the military government to help locate stolen art treasures."
- Our latest contact with Lawrence G. Blochman was (HERE).
- Blochman mentions the Negresco hotel, which almost had delayed casualties just last year; see (HERE).

The bottom line: "To be a femme fatale you don't have to be slinky and sensuous and disastrously beautiful, you just have to have the will to disturb."
Alice Munro

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