By Johnston McCulley (1883-1958).
First appearance: Popular Detective, January 1948.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
"Deputy Dan Burke battles to solve the strange case of the Yuletide deaths!"If Dan has just given the man who is to play Santa Claus a ride to a Christmas celebration at a nearby church, then how come his body is found lying sprawled on his own living room floor with a knife in his chest—murdered, the coroner confirms, hours before Dan ever caught sight of him thumbing a ride on the side of the road?
A couple of Deputy Dan's observations:
"Given enough provocation, or a situation to bring on temporary insanity through rage, and anybody is the killing type."
"Knowing his own guilt, worrying about being found out, a man like that, not used to crime, will generally betray himself, if you give him enough to think about."
The bottom line: