Reporter Larry Corrin is driving to Black Stool, er Pool. For the 3rd time in four stories, a car gets stuck in the mud, or “bogged” as it is described. Also for the third time in 4 stories, a person has been beckoned by a letter from an old acquaintance Sadly, the hat tricks do not continue with a 3rd occurrence of naked women in chains. Or in hats.
Corrin receives a letter from Dean Wile, owner of the Black Pool Lodge. He says Black Pool has fallen into ill repute, what with the lake having developed an appetite for human flesh. After Corrin’s car is bogged, he stumbles through the woods until he sees the lights of the lodge.
Before he even gets to the lodge, he sees a boat on the lake. It is close enough so he can hear a man and woman talking. Also close enough that he can see a reptilian head rise out of the water, and an taloned arm capsize the boat. The woman makes it to the shore, but the man is killed by a talon to the head which obliterates his face.
The other members of the generically-named Jordan Scientific Institute rush outside to see what the commotion is. Questions are raised as to why Bernice was out in the boat with Frank, who was not her husband. Also why they would have gone out on the lake which is consuming people like popcorn.
Theories on the deaths range from drowning to the existence of a Brontozoum in the lake. Corrin has a different theory, that a human is picking off the staff one-by-one. That night, in the lake, he almost finds himself to be the next victim. He does at least find the bodies of the missing men. They are trapped in the undercurrent of the lake, the cold water preventing their rise to the surface. How this small lake managed to have an undercurrent is not addressed.
Naturally, the deaths turn out to be the result of a love triangle. Either Corrin’s investigation got a few more of them killed, or he saved all the poor saps from going out into the lake one by one to die like the slowest lemming parade in history. I really hate to see the plot require scientists to be such dolts.
After the lurid action in the previous story, this one seems a little flat. I would never recommend it to anyone, but it is just fine as a story between tent-poles; and I’m optimistically expecting another strong one is coming, not trapping me in a literary lean-to.
If nothing else, this collection still owes me an ape for my $.99.
- First published in Mystery Novels Magazine, February 1936.
- Hitler introduces the Volkswagen, designed by Ferdinand Porsche.