Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"There Was Murder Done Out There Last Night"

"The Case of the Killer Dogs."
By Hugh Pentecost (Judson Philips, 1903-89).
First appearance: Collier's, May 2, 1953 and May 9, 1953.
Reprinted as "A Matter of Justice" in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, April 1956; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (U.K.), April 1956; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Australia), June 1956; and Ellery Queen’s Anthology #2, 1961.
Novella (15 pages total).
Online at UNZ.

~ ~ ~
Part I: 6 pages, start (HERE) and finish (HERE; scroll down to page 34).
"He came as a guest and as a suitor. He was in love with Lib, and her child had wandered into the woods. And in the woods—unbelievable, terrible, and real—were wild, marauding dogs."
For Macklyn, what starts out as a well-intentioned attempt to find a lost little boy becomes a desperate struggle merely to stay alive. As if matters aren't bad enough, the last thing he's expecting to stumble across is a freshly dead body—the body of someone who died years ago . . .

Comment: If you've never suffered from cynophobia before, you just might after reading this one.

Cast of characters:
~ Macklyn Graves:

  "I'm getting to think like a private eye."
~ Elizabeth ("Lib") Crowder:
  "I don't want you dead just so that the police will get interested."

~ Dicky Crowder:
  ". . . was nowhere around, it seemed, and Macklyn reported back to Lib with the unhappy conclusion that the boy must have set off after the hunters. The result was that Macklyn, reluctantly armed with Lib's shotgun, had set out to find him."

~ Lucian Crowder:
  ". . . was a complete extrovert, could charm his way through any situation, could handle the most temperamental actress, author or director."
~ Fred Fowler:
  "'Fred Fowler,' Macklyn said, 'is a sort of one-man crime commission. He's exposed more crooks in our city government, more racketeers, bookmakers, dishonest policemen, Communist agents, confidence men and business swindlers than any man alive. And I'll tell you a secret, angel. My guess is he hasn't had pneumonia recently, and if he's invented that kind of a story, it means he's here on business. Or—'"
~ Larry Cuyler:
  "Grace and I go our own ways, and no questions asked."
~ Digby ("Digger") March:
  "Lib admired his positiveness and his vitality, but she felt not the slightest affection for him. And Dicky openly hated him. Digger had never learned not to be patronizing with children."
~ Van Anderson:
  ". . . intense, tragic and with nothing to offer but his heart. There was a Mrs. Van Anderson, and it was generally known that she was in a 'retreat' somewhere and that she would never return from it. It was a situation which had pushed Van Anderson slightly off center himself. He had nothing to offer but his desperate need for affection and companionship."

~ Bob Streeter:
  "Just so Mr. Graves'll rest easier, we can count heads here. Is anyone missing?"

Typo: "It he had time"
~ ~ ~
Part II: 9 pages (HERE).
"They wouldn't believe Macklyn. They said that he couldn't have seen a man dying in the woods—where was the man? Where was the body? But Macklyn was positive there had been a murder."
There's at least one person, however, who must believe him, and that's whoever it is who's taking shots at him with a rifle . . .

Additional cast:
~ Dr. Jelliffe:

  "You fell a couple of times. You might have a concussion, Mr. Graves."
~ Sergeant Jackson:
  "Don't misunderstand me, sir. We don't doubt for an instant that you're telling the truth as you saw it. Only, all things considered, it's possible it really didn't happen the way you think

it did."

Comment: Our author just barely escapes lapsing into soap opera.

- Hugh Pentecost often wrote under the Judson Philips byline, and Judson Philips often wrote as Hugh Pentecost; for all the details see Wikipedia (HERE), the GAD Wiki (HERE),
Bold Venture Press (HERE), and (for his obit) the New York Times (HERE).
- The last time we perused any of Pentecost's work was about two years ago (HERE).

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