Flash Casey, ace photographer for the Globe, is ticked off at the cops. He just returned from a raid on the horse-track with a great picture. However, like Lee Harvey Oswald, his second shot was even better. It was so good the police seized the plate at the scene.
His day gets even worse as his editor Blaine refuses to print the picture he got away with. The new owner’s son Lee Fessenden is in the background sewing some wild oats at the horse-track, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem. Police Chief Judson himself called the newspaper owner and demanded that the second plate be handed over or else the press would not be allowed in the police station for a month.
When Casey gets back to his desk, his pal Tom Wade is on the phone with local tramp Alma Henderson. Well, tramp according to Casey, trump according to Wade. Alma works at Blue Grass Products which shares an air-duct with the horse-track. Casey had used this conduit to sneak in to get his second stolen photo. Well, his first photo stolen, but the second one taken. Well, the first one taken from him, but . . . screw it, WTF shares an air-duct with a horse-track anyway?
Alma is of questionable morals because her boss Moe Nyberg, owner of Blue Grass, is a pretty shady customer. He is described as “. . . a cheap tout, a first class thug. Everything he touches stinks” but that might just be the breeze from the stables. Alma is no angel either as Wade reveals she escaped from prison. Wade goes to meet Alma while Casey goes to meet detective Logan at Blue Grass.
Logan is at BGP with two other officers. They want to know what Casey knows about the dead man on the floor of the closet — a private dick named Grady. Casey immediately realizes that Alma must have known the man and fears for Wade’s safety.
Casey describes how he and Wade went to Blue Grass Products. He somehow knew there was an air shaft in the building and deduced it was in BGP. He describes slipping through to get the picture. We learn that the air shaft actually connected to the men’s room at the horse-track, which I’m not sure is better. When he got back, Alma had closed BGP early fearing Nyberg would be upset at the intrusion, or maybe because it was Taco Tuesday at the track.
Logan explains that his crew is at BGP based on that advanced-criminological theory of killers returning to the scene of a crime. There’s an extra fiver in it for him if it is a butler. The dead man Grady had actually tipped the cops off that there would be a show-down here involving a horse
dropping doping ring. They think Alma was in on it and that is why she hustled Wade downstairs, then she took off with some “bad eggs”.
Casey surmises that his picture was seized because he accidentally got a shot of the real killer coming out of the men’s room with toilet paper on his shoe. Casey jumps up to go save Wade from Nyberg’s goons. Logan goes with him to Alma’s apartment and finds she has been killed. Then a couple of bad hombres pull guns on them.
Casey and Logan manage to jump the bad guys. Casey even manages to take one’s gun and put a slug in his melon. Casey, asks the one still breathing, “What did you do with Wade?” Not getting a fast enough response, Casey belts him. He asks again with no response, and belts him again. Rinse, repeat. Logan finally remembers he’s a cop and stops Casey . . . after his forth punch knocks the guy out. Casey goes back to the Globe and has a duplicate made of his photo, then a couple of wallet-size.
A cab-driver shows up at the Globe and tells Casey that Wade sent him and told him Flash Casey would pay the fare. Fearing the next visitor will be from Domino’s with 30 pizzas, Casey races to the address where the driver dropped Wade off. Before he can get out the door he gets a call. The caller says to bring him the photo in exchange for Wade.
Blah, blah, blah. There’s nothing wrong with this one that I can put my finger on. It just seems to go on forever. It took me three weeks to get through, and that ain’t a good sign for a 25 page story.
- First published in Black Mask, January 1935.
- Also that month: Amelia Earhart flies from Honolulu to California; gets cocky.