Sunday, June 25, 2017

"He Wished This Had Been Robbery and Murder, Instead of Just Murder"

"The Fellow Who Killed Felix."
By Thomas W. Duncan (1905-87).
First appearance: Detective Fiction Weekly,
September 19, 1936.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at UNZ (HERE).
"The Evidence Pointed to Cliff Barton as the Murderer. But Old Jim Laurel, Veteran Sheriff at Broken Ax, Found It All Added to: Frame-Up!"
He might call himself "a dumb hick sheriff," but the spirit of Sherlock Holmes lives on in Jim Laurel ("That's my business, to know things"), with nothing getting past him unnoticed: the missing wallet at the crime scene, the overlooked diamond ring, the handkerchief with the brown splotch under the victim's hand (a dying clue not left by the dead man), and the killer's rare ability to walk a straight line. In the end, however, Sheriff Laurel modestly attributes his ability to solve this case to one thing: "You know, it's a great advantage for a man to enforce the law among the fellows he's known all his life. It's hard for 'em to put anything over."

Nice phrasing: "The wind came to them and sniffed at them and then rustled away through the bushes."
Unusual verb: "body blurted back into the room."
Typo: "do have money enough" [left out you]

- FictionMags's
thumbnail about Thomas William Duncan: "Poet and writer. Born in Casey, Iowa; lived in California." FictionMags lists Duncan's short story output in both the pulps and the slicks as running from 1930 to 1947, most of which seems to have been crime fiction.

The bottom line:

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