Suez Souvenir – Jerome Hyams (1934)

sascoverWhat the hell?  Another story featuring Cliff Downey of The Consolidated Detective Agency of Chicago?  Cliff, we had some good times, but are you going to pop up in every other story regardless of author?

Shanghai Jester:  Cliff’s hairy right fist was thrust deep into the pockets of his coat, the capable fingers clenched around the comforting butt of a service .38 automatic.

Suez Souvenir:  The detective’s  hairy right fist closed over the cold butt of the automatic in his coat pocket.

Maybe if Cliff Downey had gotten his hands on Babs‘ butt instead of his pistol’s in Shanghai, his hands wouldn’t be so hairy.

This time, he is in Suez searching for an American dame named Wilda Rhodes.  Her parents fear that she has been kidnapped.  Two French girls, a German, and a Brazilian have also disappeared, but Wilda is the only blonde [1] so only she is featured on FOX radio every night.  Downey fears she has been sold into “white slavery”, or as it is also known — slavery.  The US Consul, fortunately not under Hillary Clinton’s watch, is alive to helpfully point him to Azbar ibn Barakah, rumored slavemaster.

Black Murder:  The figurette was unmistakable — it was Wynne Dana herself, entirely nude, with white jutting breasts tipped and pointed.  The head was lowered over a long, shiny pin that transfixed the left breast.

Suez Souvenir:  Buried to the hilt in the firm white flesh of her young, virginal, rounded left breast was a short oriental scimitar.

There are breast-men (i.e., men), then there are impaledleft-breast-men.  That is 2 out of 3 stories in this collection with that weirdly specific — and creepy — fetish.

Downey finds Wilda tied up nearly naked.  He remedies one of the two problems and they escape the torture chamber.  They are quickly caught and taken to Barakah. When Wilda slashes his face with her nails, he vows to “possess her charms” then kill her. Seeing an ornamental metal chastity belt on the wall, she slips off her few clothes, leaving her “completely, gloriously nude.”  She straps on the chastity belt “encasing her intimate femininity in a shining metal prison.”  Barakah is furious, and frankly Downey is probably also not totally on-board as Wilda locks the device and throws the key out the window.

Four henchmen take Downey and Wilda back to the torture room.  Barakah threatens to blind Downey with a branding iron and melt the chastity belt off of Wilda before handing her off to the henchmen.  As the men take the German girl’s dead, naked body off the rack to be disposed of, Downey is able to smash his padlock with a conveniently placed rock.

When Barakah returns, Downey catches him by surprise, lassoing him with the chain that had bound him “smearing eyes and nose and mouth into gory jelly.”  Downey beats the man to death and takes pistol from him to kill his henchmen.  He frees Wilda, although doesn’t go as far as tossing her a shirt or anything.  Barakah’s torn clothing reveals him to actually be a white dude.

Downey tells naked Wilda that he knew it all the time — that Barakah was actually the American consul with make-up and a beard.  He explains to naked Wilda how the consul kidnapped hot babes.  He further explains to naked Wilda how he caught on to the deception.  He picks up naked Wilda “in his strong arms and carried her upstairs.” He takes naked Wilda out into the street. Finally at that point, he takes a burnoose off a dead Arab and gives it to the nude woman standing naked in the street to cover up.  And really, how much material could be in a burnoose? [2]

Downey suddenly remembers her chastity belt.  It’s not like it was covered up or anything. Wilda says she only pretended to toss the key, that it was hidden in her hair. She says, “I wanted you to have it, always.”  See, by “it” she means her vagina.

Much better than Black Murder.


  • [1] Wilda is later described as having coal-black hair, so the interest in her disappearance is inexplicable.
  • [2] I thought a burnoose was just Arab head-dress, but it is actually the entire cloak.
  • First published in September 1934.
  • Also that month:  Bridget Bardot and Sophia Loren both born.  But Bridget will always be a week younger.

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