Monday, July 2, 2018

"You See, I Had To Get It at Any Cost"

"The Bowstring Murder."
By Maurice Procter (1906-73).
First appearance: Collier's, November 1, 1952.
Reprinted as "The Million Dollar Mystery" in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 1960; EQMM (Australia), March 1960; EQMM (U.K.), March 1960; and Ellery Queen’s Anthology #15 (1968).
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at UNZ starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE; scroll down to page 60).

   "What linked the atomic scientist to this bold jewel theft? Scotland Yard had to find the answer itself. Dr. Tempest could not give it to them. He was dead."

U.S. Treasury agent John Norton is in England searching for a stolen million dollars, unaware that the problem is bigger than that, as Chief Inspector Warwick of the Special Branch informs him: "Know what you've done? Walked smack into the middle of the biggest murder job in years. It's only two hours old, but it's started a Security flap from one end of Whitehall to the other." As if that weren't enough, by the end of the day Norton will have more than missing money and somebody else's murder to deal with; there'll be the very real dilemma 
of being cremated alive or blown to tiny bits . . .

Comment: One of the few short stories that would have worked better as a novel.

- FictionMags describes Maurice Procter thusly: "Novelist. Born in Nelson, Lancashire, England. The name was sometimes spelled Proctor"; also see the GAD Wiki entry (HERE).
- An informative Wikipedia article about Procter is (HERE):
   "Procter is best known for his series of police procedural novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Harry Martineau of the Granchester City Police. In his novels Granchester was an industrial city in the north of England. Procter based the city on Manchester. When his novel Hell Is a City (which was published in the United States with the title Somewhere in This City) was filmed in 1960 with Stanley Baker as Martineau, it was shot on-location in Manchester."
- Here are links to very brief reviews of a few of his novels:
  ~ Hurry the Darkness (HERE): "Well-handled irony."
  ~ The Ripper (HERE): "Top flight."
  ~ Killer at Large (HERE): "Good show."
  ~ The Devil Was Handsome (HERE): "Superb detection number."
  ~ A Body to Spare (HERE): "Fast motion all the way . . ."
  ~ The Graveyard Rolls (HERE): "Good straight-out police job . . ."
  ~ Two Men in Twenty (HERE): "An absolute knockout!"
  ~ Homicide Blonde (HERE): "Professional as usual . . ."
  ~ His Weight in Gold (HERE): ". . . excellent chase sequence."
See the Fantastic Fiction page (HERE) for more.

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