Gary Severn goes out at 11:45 pm, as he does every night, to pick up the midnight edition. OK. Were there midnight editions of newspapers back then? Newsstand operators manned their post in the wee hours of the morning? There were people waiting on this delivery? Severn actually has to “worm his way through a cluster of customers” and ends up grabbing the same paper as another man. He begins reading as he walks home, hearing “numbers of other footsteps” behind him, which eventually dwindle to one; well, one pair.
As he arrives at his home, a hand comes down on his shoulder. It is the man he played newspaper tug of war with. The good news is, he’s a police officer. The bad news is Severn is arrested for the murder of another officer.
At the police station, the guys are monkeying around with the eye chart and they are a pretty average bunch. They bring in Mrs. Novak for a test as she was a witness to the murder. Unfortunately for Severn, she can read the chart down to “Printed in Taiwan“. She busts Severn as “the man I saw running away right after the shots.” A CPA backs up her story.
In no time, Severn is walking to the electric chair with another man accused of the crime. The other man decides to come clean before he is executed. He finally admits to the priest that he killed the cop, but that Severn wasn’t involved; his accomplice was a guy named Donny Blake.
The cops bring in Blake. Mrs. Novak and the CPA decide, no that’s the guy. Whoopsie, Severn has already been executed. Kudos on this being quite a shock; you know, if some jerk didn’t spoil it for you. The author took the time to establish a bit about his life, and it was clear he was to be the protagonist of the story. Then bang, or rather buzzz, he’s dead. They get word from the District Attorney’s office to let Blake go free because it is more important to let a murderer go free than to have the state admit a mistake.
Detective Rogers is the only one unwilling to go along with the ruse. When Blake laughs at them, Rogers resigns from the force and promises to dog Blake’s every move; which I believe was the 2nd Act of Dirty Harry.
At first Blake is aggravated by Rogers tailing him. Then he gets paranoid. Eventually it seems to become a road picture; everywhere Blake goes, Rogers is sure to show up. Blake eventually learns to accept it. They don’t exactly become friends, but there is a familiarity. Finally, after 3 years and 7 months, Rogers is able to manipulate Blake into a position where he will pay for his crime.
This was a very good entry in the collection. It surprised me, had some humor, and justice was served.
- First published in the July 1942 issue of Black Mask. Also that month: Harrison Ford born.
Mini-Mini-Review of Baby Driver:
It is so great to see a movie from a director who is in control. The opening scene is almost too precious, but quickly reeled me into this stylized world through the combination of writing, direction and music. If I had to come up with any criticisms, they would be pretty miniscule:
- Parts of the soundtrack are god-awful. But then, I’m not 14.
- Jon Hamm is a great actor, but they put him in a leather biker jacket. I’ve said it before, if you aren’t Vic Mackey or The Fonz, just don’t do it. You will look foolish.