Saturday, June 6, 2020

"I Still Believe It Was Murder"

IN TODAY'S STORY, our sleuth makes unusual use of a soap eraser and a loquacious "air raid warden" to set a trap for . . .

"The Meticulous Murderer."
By Mel Watt (?-?).
First appearance: Detective Tales, June 1943.
Novelette (16 pages).
Online at (HERE).
     "He took enough to sleep from now on."

 Chapter One: "When he rose, he stood gazing at the body for a full minute, as if seeing a picture. A picture he didn't like."
 Chapter Two: "Meticulous Murder"
 Chapter Three: "Man-Trap"
 Chapter Four: "Diller-Killer"

A good synonym for "meticulous" is "fastidious" ("being very concerned about matters of cleanliness"), which fits our murderer to perfection . . .

Main characters:
~ Marian Innes:
  ". . . was standing by a desk, her body as stiff as a statue, her hands clenched by her 
sides, her eyes fixed and staring, but every muscle in her deadwhite face quivering uncontrollably."
~ Jim Innes:
  "Seated in the chair before the desk was her husband. The upper part of him was 
lying on the desktop, his arms stretched ahead."
~ Sergeant Mulcahy:
  "His face was the map of Ireland, but behind it was a hard-working, shrewd brain."
~ The M. E.:
  "He's a suicide, isn't he?"
~ George Stanton:
  "There's twenty-five thousand dollars in negotiable stocks missing and unaccounted 
~ Larry Rhodes:
  "Nobody ever lets me in on anything."
~ Eileen Hollis:
  "He was often nervous and depressed."
~ Klingelhuts:
  "You vant to rent apartment?"
~ Professor Jonathan Tack, instructor in abnormal psychology in the Crime Lab at 
Central University:
  "He's frightened to death of guns. He would probably faint at the sight of blood. 
He doesn't mind murdering, but he has to do it without bloodshed. Abnormal psy-
chological quirk in the gentleman."

- "It's the air raid warden": During World War Two wardens, all volunteers, were ubiquitous, but even they weren't able to stop The Lookout Air Raids: "the second time the continental United States was attacked by enemy aircraft during World War II"; see Wikipedia (HERE) for this little-known event.
- "I'll bet you my set of tires": To readers of the time a meaningful reference to wartime rationing, since all the rubber was going to the war effort. "During World War II, ration-
ing was a large part of life on the United States Home Front. Tires were the first items 
to be rationed." (Sara Sundin HERE).
- Mel Watt's detective fiction writing career spanned twenty years (FictionMags HERE); his only series character was limited to two appearances:
   Prof. “Mephisto” Jonathan Tack:
   (1) "The Meticulous Murderer," Detective Tales, June 1943 (above)
   (2) "Home Sweet Homicide," Detective Tales, September 1943.

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