For the 2nd story in a row, a car is stuck in the mud. I’ll say this for Global Warming, cars don’t get mired down in a drought. Well, unless there used to be a lake there. The unfortunate motorist this time is Stephen Demerest.
He has wandered lost among fields and deserted farms seeking help. Finally he sees a young girl in a cloak. He asks her the way to the Halliday house. When she doesn’t respond, he approaches her, prompting six large black dogs to defend her by forming a circle. Silently, she begins walking away and Demerest follows her; so the dogs are cool with stalking.
He finds himself at the door of the Halliday house and recalls the letter that Halliday sent to him. It says their fathers were friends, and Halliday has no one else to turn to for help. Demerest is to come to his house in the guise of a radio repairman, and be prepared to act when Halliday gives the signal. For this task, Demerest has received $500.
All he recalls about Halliday is that he married well, but his wife took off, leaving him to raise their infant daughter. The door is opened by a butler with hideous facial deformities — a twisted mouth, one empty eye socket, broken teeth.
He is handed off to another equally grotesque servant, a squat gnome-like dwarf who takes him to Halliday’s bedroom. There he formally meets Halliday and the couple attending to him, Eric and Nana.
Demerest soon learns that the couple is blackmailing Halliday. They are dealt with through much shooting, running, fighting, flaying by dogs, tearing of night-clothes, and exposing of alabaster shoulders.
Halliday is afraid that in trying to shelter his beautiful daughter from attractive men who might lure her away, he has made her vulnerable to con-men like Nick. Or Nana, if you get my drift.
He promises Demerest a princely sum if he will take care of his beautiful, virginal young daughter with the smoking body, and see that she meets some good man for love and marriage. I think this will have the same outcome as putting Dick Cheney in charge of the 2000 VP search committee.
Another fun one. Lots of grotesque figures, as they were called then — now, challenged or otherly-abled. Plenty of action, and the occasional flashes of skin. Sadly, no one was stripped naked and hung from a rafter like in Blood for the Vampire Dead. But I guess that can’t be part of every story or it would get boring after 20 or so.
- Published in Ace Mystery, July 1936
- Also that month: Lucky Luciano sentenced to 30-50 in the big house.