Monday, May 13, 2024

"Their Faces Were Inquisitors' Masks of Suspicion and Anger"

HERE'S one of the few short stories by our author that has never been reprinted, despite Ellery Queen's (the editor's) prediction . . .

"A Case of Instant Detection."
By Nedra Tyre (1912-90; Wikipedia HERE; Independent HERE; Curtis Evans HERE; Sarah Weinman HERE; The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki HERE; ISFDb HERE).
First appearance: EQMM, May 1967.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 82).
(Note: Text is faded but legible.)

   "'Oh, my God', she cried out, 'that man over there is dead! There's a knife in his back!'"

IT'S the late 1960s and public opinion about the police is at a low ebb, especially on college campuses, which is unfortunate for a young police officer who's hoping to meet department requirements by taking a sociology class. For him, things go from bad to worse when a man is found murdered, forcing him to face "his professional 'moment of truth'" . . .

Main characters:
~ Detective Lieutenant Williams:
  "Only one person could have committed murder in this auditorium."
~ Miss Lowell:
  ". . . the instructor, wouldn't let the situation get entirely out of hand; she came mercifully to his defense by steering the remarks to other channels."
~ Joe:
  ". . . the basement auditorium is free and the projector down there is okay . . ."
~ The class:
  The manufacturer, the lawyer, the banker, the dentist, the cateress, the young mother, the nurse, and the elderly woman "with a broad A and a fortune."

References and resources:
- "Nanook of the North":
  One of the first commercially successful "docudramas":
  "The documentary follows the lives of an Inuk, Nanook, and his family as they travel, search for food, and trade in the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec, Canada. Nanook, his wife Nyla and their family are introduced as fearless heroes who endure rigors no other race could survive. The audience sees Nanook, often with his family, hunt a walrus, build an igloo, go about his day, and perform other tasks." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "He realized that the hostility wasn't so much for him as a person as for him as a policeman":
  "Police legitimacy is the extent to which members of the public view the police as higher power authority figure, often measured in terms of the public's willingness to obey and cooperate with the police. Police legitimacy is linked to the degree of public support for, 
and cooperation with, the police's efforts to fight crime. When a police officer's ability and authority to effectively complete their job is compromised there is potential for a lack of police legitimacy." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- If you're seeking sanctuary in the hallowed halls of academe, think again. (Wikipedia HERE and HERE.)

Bottom line:
  "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

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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