Thursday, February 1, 2024

"My Motive Is Nobody’s Concern but My Own"

"Mr. Mouthpiece."
By Julius Long (1907-55).
First appearance: Dime Detective, October 1952.
Reprinted in Black Mask Detective (U.K.), January 1953.
Short story (15 pages).
Online at starting (HERE) and concluding (HERE).
(Note: Text fuzzy in places but readable.)

   "I told you once, and I’ll tell you again—he’s going to die in the electric chair."

Anxiety. That chronic feeling of dread that something bad is sure to happen. Many people seem to experience anxiety, enough of them to make the practice of psychiatry a lucrative profession. Today's protagonist, a defense lawyer, is also suffering from it, but how he deals with his anxiety is radically different from the norm—in fact, you could say it's unique . . .

Main characters (in order of appearance):
~ Barry Bodine:
  ". . . had tried one hundred and twelve murder cases—and secured hung juries or acquittals in every one."
~ Pat O’Neill:
  "He had a mistaken idea that you had a weakness for me and that I could worm out of you what evidence you'd dug up in the case."
~ Judge Cost:
  "You’ve always been popular with the cops. If you defend Kuntzman’s killer, they'll never forgive you—especially when you ask for the case at a fee that’s practically nothing."
~ Pete Novick:
  "What’s your angle on the cop-killer case?"
~ Paul Sugrue:
  "Who's putting up the side dough?"
~ The elevator operator:
  "Hear you’ve taken the cop-killer’s case, Mr. Bodine. Boy, that’s sure gonna be a toughie!"
~ Eva Martin:
  "Have you gone nuts?"
~ Joan Wolf:
  "He hit me when I wasn't looking."
~ Karl Kuntzman:
  ". . . was so stunned he couldn’t shoot first, even though he had the drop on the guy."
~ Charlie Wolf:
  "But you’re not telling all that was in the papers [Joan said]. My brother told the police his own version of what had happened."
~ Mike Umanski:
  ". . . moved in on Atwood before he could dodge away."
~ Louis Varga:
  ". . . turned white. Little beads of perspiration formed about his lips. He called Atwood a name. It was quite a name."
~ J. Herbert Atwood:
  "The tall, thin man, trembling hysterically, stood close by the girl."
~ Fred Morrow:
  "You got something up your sleeve, Bodine, and it’s not good for that pay increase bill before the council."

Typos: "Jean Wolf"; "as if in a vice".

Resources and references:
- "removed his Borsalino hat":
  Bogie impressed Ingrid with it in one of his movies; see Wikipedia (HERE) about the company history and its impact on popular culture.
- FictionMags's thumbnail about Julius W. Long: "Magazine writer. Born in Ohio; studied law; admitted to the Ohio bar and practiced law in that state"—which explains the theme of our story.
- As one of the "Black Mask boys," Long's bibliography is understandably impressive. His series characters were Ben Corbett, who starred in 17 Black Mask stories (1944-47) and one in Detective Tales (1948), and Clarence Darrow (Corpus Delicti) Mort in 11 Dime Detective tales (1944-47).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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