Double Check – Thomas Walsh (1933)

1,154 pages and 2.8 pounds — interesting in concept, but nearly impossible to read.

Devine was a small, slender man, thin-featured and quick of manner.  So it’s not Andy.  Or Divine.

He is a banker who is telling Detective Flaherty about blackmail letters he has been receiving. Unfortunately he lacked the foresight to save the letters for the police.  After getting a phone-call from the extortionists, he called the cops. The only clue is that he heard one of the men use the name Jigger.

Flaherty’s partner Mike Martin knows a Jigger Burns and says, “Jigger is a peter man.” I don’t even want to Google that.  Luckily, we are soon told that means he is a nitro expert.  The only blowing he does is -up safes.  Because Jigger was recently seen talking to Johnny Grecco, they somehow make the leap to question Grecco.  They head to the Esplanade to pick him up.

Grecco is not at the club, but one of his lackeys points out his girlfriend charmingly referred to as “the Polack.”  She is giving dime dances for $.25 so Flaherty hires her for a song.  Martin heads over to Flaherty’s house after he gets another threat about him calling the police.  While Flaherty is waiting for Grecco to show up, Martin calls in to say, “Someone laid a pineapple in Devine’s car.  Him and the chauffeur was blown to hell.”  Maybe it was that peter man.  Because of the nitro, I mean.

Flaherty returns to the club and looks around.  He asks, “Where’s that tall blonde, the Polack girl?”  She called in sick, tired of being the butt of two series of jokes impugning her intelligence [1].  He plays the cop-card, gets her name — Anna Brinski — and her address.  He busts into her apartment and finds her holding a pair tickets to Los Angeles, packing a whistle and a clipboard because the tickets said coach class.  That is enough for Flaherty to haul her downtown, although I’m still not seeing the connection.  A man comes to the door.  After a struggle, Flaherty shoots him.  As he is searching the body, Anna conks him on the head with a brass vase.

Flaherty wakes up half an hour later, but Anna is gone.  He identifies the dead man as Devine’s assistant, but can’t figure out his involvement.  He finds a piece of paper with “1934” written on it.  He staggers down the stairs of her apartment.  In front of Anna’s building, a man tries to shoot him from a passing car.  It would have been much easier to kill Flaherty in Anna’s apartment but the car could never have taken that tight corner at the base of the stairs.

After seeing an explosion in Devine’s bank, Flaherty goes to the only hotel in town tall enough to have a 19th floor.  Oh, and he calls the house dick.  Hehe.  Maybe to catch the peter man.  In room 1934, he finds Anna, Grecco, and the very much alive Devine. Flaherty puts all the pieces together.  The man killed in the explosion was a decoy for the similarly built Jigger. [2]  His pieces were not put together.

“Anna screamed suddenly, seeing the sudden bulge in the banker’s pocket.”

Since it is neither the house dick nor the peter man, it is just a pistol.  Yada yada, a bunch of cash and two honest cops.


  • [1] How does she find her way to work in the morning?  Wakes up, goes home . . .
  • [2] Hey, the plot to Fletch!
  • First published in Black Mask in July 1933.
  • Born that month:  Joan Rivers & Gene Wilder.
  • The 2nd story in the collection to mention a flivver.

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