, July, 1946
Gary Hammond tackles a clueless murder puzzle!
GARY HAMMOND of Homicide did not act or look like a first grade
detective, but he was one of the best men on the New York Police Force.
He was slender and dark and looked and dressed like a fairly successful
young business man. He was polite to old ladies, kind to children, and
tough on crooks.
Now he stood near the door of the living room of a Park Avenue
apartment and watched the Homicide Squad at work. The police
photographer had finished making angle shots of the corpse sprawled out
on the oriental rug. Dr. Doyle, from the Medical Examiner's office, was
tapping one foot impatiently as he waited for the chalk outline of the
body to be made.
He would die on a rug like this, muttered the man with chalk. It's
like trying to make marks on seaweed or something.
Hurry up, said Dr. Doyle impatiently. I haven't got all day. He
glanced over at Hammond. Who was he anyway? he asked.
Lowell Malden, Hammond said. Sportsman, man about town, and now he
is just as dead as any other mackerel.
That never made sense to me, said the fingerprint man. He was
busily dusting a table with fine powder from a little blower. I could
never see that mackerels were any more dead than anything else.
The man with the chalk gave up, after making what he thought were
marks to show where the corpse had fallen. He nodded to the assistant
It's about time, Doyle said. He knelt down and began examining the
body. He was shot through the head with a small caliber bulleta
thirty-two I'd say.
Not without probing for it, you won't, said Hammond. You can't
always be sure of the size of a bullet by the hole it makes, Doctor.
Go question your suspects, Hammond, said Dr. Doyle. You bother
That's what makes this a nice open and shut case, Hammond told him.
There aren't any suspects. Half an hour ago Homicide gets a call to
come to this apartmentthere has been a murder. When we get here the
apartment door is closed but not locked and there is no one around but
the late Mr. Malden. Which makes the whole thing just ducky.
Lethal death by person or persons unknown, remarked Doyle as he got
to his feet. And I don't mean maybe. He yawned. If you're worried
about the caliber of the bullet I'll do an autopsy, Hammond.
It might help, agreed Gary Hammond. We haven't even got the murder
Oh, my! murmured Doyle, as he headed for the door. You have got a
pretty kettle of fish, and I don't mean mackerel!
SOME of the Homicide men were going through the building questioning
the other tenants and the employees. Malden had been a bachelor who
lived alone. Anyone could have walked in, killed him with one a shot,
then phoned the police to report the murder, and departed.
Hammond was wondering just how to begin with this puzzle when a
slender, gray-haired man came bustling into the living room. It a
struck Hammond that if this man had been a woman he would have worn
old-fashioned petticoats that rustled.
I'm James Clinton, the gray-haired man announced pompously.
Representing the Skyhigh Real Estate Company, owners of this
building. He glanced at the corpse once, and looked quickly away.
There must be no publicity, of course, he told the Homicide man
hastily. Absolutely no publicity, you understand. Might give the
building a bad name.
Sez he, drawled a short, stocky man who had followed the real
estate man into the room. He wore a press card in his hat band. Lowell
Malden gets bumped off, and the papers are just going to ignore the
whole thing. Oh, yeah, your father's mustache!
Don't tell me, put in the police photographer, a man named Clark.
Let me guess. It's a newspaperman, or maybe he just acts like that
because he's seen too many reporters in the movies.
I'm a newspaperman, the stocky man said shortly, pulling a
note-book and a pencil out of his pocket as if to prove it. Harry
Newton, of the Evening Blade. When did the murder occur, who
killed him, and why?
Goody, goody! applauded the fingerprint-man, staring wide-eyed at
the leatherbound notebook in the self- introduced Newton's hand. A
real journalist! I always wanted to see one. You know I was nearly
fourteen before I really believed there were such things as elephants.
Who is in charge here? demanded the gray-haired Clinton
impatiently. I insist that there will be no publicity. I'm warning you
if there is we'll sue.
That I must see, said Gary Hammond dryly. Go ahead, Newton, write
it up. You knowit is rumored that the alleged body of a man believed
to be Lowell Malden was found apparently dead in an apartment of what
is said to be a building supposedly located on Park Avenue in what is
frequently referred to as the city of New York.
You mean I'm the only reporter here? demanded Newton eagerly. That
I've got a real beat?
Hammond grinned and the photographer and the fingerprint man snorted.
Then the men from the morgue appeared with the big basket. One of them
looked at Hammond for orders.
All right, said Hammond. Take him away.
The men placed the body in the basket and carried it out. James
Clinton looked as if he felt sick. Newton was standing beside a table
with a telephone on it, busily writing in his note-book.
I was here earlier this morning, Clinton said, after the body was
gone. The front door of the apartment was open a trifle, and I heard
Mr. Malden quarreling with someone. Theythey seemed very angry.
Could you hear what they said? Hammond was interested now.
Well, I heard Mr. Malden say, 'I'm tired of this blackmail', said
Clinton. And he also said, 'if you keep on bothering me any longer
I'll kill you, Lance'.
You're sure that Malden called the other man Lance? demanded
Positive. Clinton nodded. But rememberthere must be. no
publicity about all this.
Have I got a story! exclaimed Newton. Millionaire murdered when he
refuses extortion threats of blackmailer! He headed for the door.
I've got to get back to the paper and write this yarn in a hurry.
Just a moment, Newton. Hammond stopped him. We've got police on
guard at the elevator and. downstairs with orders to let no one in or
out of this building. You won't be able to get out unless I have you
Nonsense! snapped Newton. Why those police downstairs let me right
through when they saw my press card. I'll get out all right.
He disappeared through the door before Hammond could say anything
further. James Clinton, staring after him, looked perturbed.
I insisted there would be no publicity, and I he began.
Aw, play another record, said Photographer Clark, as he picked up
his camera. I'm tired of hearing that tune.
Run along, boys, Hammond told the Homicide crew. I want to talk to
Mr. Clinton. The Squad can go back now.
Gee, thanks, Teacher, Clark said in a high voice, and then to the
finger-print men. Come onrecess!
THEY departed, leaving Hammond alone in the apartment with Clinton of
Skyhigh Real Estate. Hammond questioned the man for some time, but
Clinton stuck to his story that he had heard only those few words of
the quarrel between Malden and the unknown Lance. Then he had left,
deciding to see Malden some other time. He declared he was not sure
that he would recognize Lance's voice if he heard it again.
Thanks, anyway, Hammond finally said. You've been a great help,
Mr. Clinton. And tell your firm that they don't need to worry about bad
publicity. The owners of a building aren't to blame if one of the
tenants happens to be murdered in it.
I guess you are right, Clinton said reluctantly, and handed Hammond
a card. You can reach me at this address if you should want me for
The two men walked to the door of the apartment together. About
getting out of the building, Clinton said. Will I have any trouble
Don't believe so, said Hammond. The Homicide Squad probably took
off the guard on the building when they left.
Clinton left, and Gary Hammond closed the door and went back into the
living room. He opened the drawer of the telephone table and found an
address book. Thumbing through it he found the name of John Lance, with
an address and telephone number. He blinked when he noticed that the
address was this same apartment building. He phoned the doorman and
learned that Lance had apartment 70 on the seventh floor.
So Lance lives here, he muttered, as he cradled the phone. And on
the floor above this. Guess I'd better pay him a visit.
Hammond reached for his hat and overcoat where he had left them when
he had arrived, then decided to leave them there while he went upstairs
to see John Lance, Leaving the apartment he went up the stairs to the
seventh floor. There he found an apartment door with Lance on the
card above the bell.
He had reached out a hand to ring the bell when he changed his mind.
Instead, he tried the knob. The door was unlocked. Silently he pushed
the door open and walked into a small hall. It was dark there, even
though it was a bright winter day.
Hammond paused for a moment, then turned to close the door behind
him. And at that moment a figure came hurling at him. He was struck
with such force that he was knocked up against the door. He grabbed for
his assailant, but missed.
The door had been flung back so that he was in the narrow space
between it and the wall. He gave a shove and the door slammed shut. And
by the time he got it open again his attacker had raced out into the
hall and disappeared somewhere along the corridor.
Nice, muttered Hammond disgustedly. Had him right in my hands and
let him go.
Gary Hammond went back into the apartment and closed the door. Moving
along the hall he reached another door and opened it. For a moment all
he could do was stand there staring at the still figure lying on the
floor of a living rooma young man sprawled on his back near a couch.
He was fully dressed, and the Homicide's man's first glance told him
the man was dead.
Another murder! he muttered tightly.
Dropping to his knees, he examined the man on the floor. It was a
corpse lying there all right, the corpse of a man who had been stabbed
through the heart, apparently by a knife. But the weapon was missing.
Hammond searched the dead man's pockets and found letters, a wallet
containing a good bit of money, and a draft classification card for
Another job for Homicide, thought Hammond, as he got to his feet.
He found a phone and reported the murder.
Yes, I'll be here when you arrive, he said over the wire.
As Hammond cradled the phone he caught sight of a portable typewriter
on a small desk in one corner of the room. A sheet of paper was in the
machine. Hammond walked over to it and read what had been typed:
I saw you sneak into M's apartment just before the police arrived, so
I know you killed him. I know you did it because M had found that you
raised a check you got for a hundred dollars from him to ten thousand
and got the money. Is my silence worth five thousand to you?
The note was not addressed and was unsigned. Hammond swung around,
and reached for his gun as the doorbell rang. He went to the door and
opened it. Harry Newton, the reporter, stood there.
Oh, it's you, Newton said. I came back after I wrote my story. I
thought I might get something to add to it if I talked to Mr. Lance. Is
He's here. Hammond nodded toward the living room. In there.
NEWTON walked along the hall with Hammond behind him. The gun was in
the side pocket of the detective's coat.
Newton stopped short, and gasped as he saw the corpse.
Great heavens! he cried. What happened to Lance?
You know what happened to him, Hammond said coldly. You killed
him just as you killed Malden, only you used a knife this time.
What? Newton swung around, glaring at Hammond. You're crazy!
No, Hammond said, in the same cold tone. You did it. Like a lot of
murderers you've been too smart. You were still in this building when
the police arrived after you phoned and reported Malden's murder. You
found you couldn't get out, so you decided to bluff it through by
pretending you were a newspaperman.
I am a newspaperman! protested Newton. And you're raving mad!
A regular newspaperman seldom carries a note-book. Hammond
shrugged. And when he gets a good murder story with no other reporters
around he doesn't rush back to his paper with it. The detective smiled
grimly. Not when he is standing right beside a phone as you were in
Malden's apartment, and could have phoned in your story.
All right. Newton shrugged. So I'm not so hot as a reporter. But
what reason would I have for killing Malden and Lance?
The motive is over in Lance's typewriter, said Hammond. I guess
you didn't have time to see it since I came in here just after you
killed him, and you fought with me while getting away. You raised a
check that Malden gave you. He found out about it and you killed him.
Go on, said Newton, his voice suddenly hard.
Lance saw the killing, or at least knew you did it, Malden went on.
He was blackmailing Malden, and he decided to try a shake-down on you.
But you wouldn't stand for it, and killed him.
Hammond lifted his head as he heard voices out in the hall. The
Homicide Squad had returned. He heard Newton snarl, saw the man's hand
flash up, holding a gun. Hammond shot him through the right shoulder
before Newton could fire. The gun dropped from the killer's hand.
Hardly the action of an innocent man, remarked Gary Hammond. And
that's a help.
The men from Homicide came bursting into the room. The same Squad who
had been in Malden's apartment earlier.
Here we go again, boys, called Clark, the photographer, as he saw
the corpse. Another job for Homicide.
Just routine this time, Hammond said casually. I've already got
Etext from pulpgen.com - 2009 Blackmask Online.