Craig Kennedy rides again in two more exciting books
In Craig Kennedy the American nation might justifiably lay claim to their own Sherlock Holmes, for here is a detective whose activities projected him into the modern age. Where Conan Doyle’s famous character of a more gentle era relied on his superb powers of analysis, Kennedy is able to combine his own intellectual powers with the technological marvels of a new age. Arthur B. Reeve’s classic ‘Craig Kennedy’ stories began appearing in 1910, ensuring him of a place as a dominant crime fighter for the emerging 20th century. Kennedy is perhaps the natural evolution of the ‘great detective’ and the reader cannot but imagine that Holmes would have embraced his newly created techniques with equal enthusiasm. Here the reader will discover the application of lie detectors, gyroscopes, seismographs and an arsenal of other equipment, both real and imagined, to the solving of crimes and the bringing of criminals to justice.
This special Leonaur collection of the ‘scientific’ detective of Columbia University comprises seven substantial volumes, each in a colour coordinated cover. Leonaur hard backs are cloth bound, have fabric head and tail bands and feature gold foil lettering on their spines, so this may be the ideal way to collect and own the marvellous Craig Kennedy detective story series.
In the fifth volume, the reader will find two more complete books of intriguing detective stories to enjoy—The Social Gangster and The Treasure-Train, both originally published in 1916 and 1917 respectively. Within its pages enthusiasts can puzzle over many a dastardly crime and, of course, an equal number of brilliantly deduced solutions.
The coroner had risen and was pacing the room slowly. “I could cite innumerable cases. Everyone understands that a blow may be fatal because of shock to the solar plexus. In such a case no post-mortem trace might be found and the blow could even be a light one.<br>
“For instance, in a fight a blow might be struck and the recipient fall dead. If the medical examiner should find nothing on holding the autopsy which would have caused sudden death, he can testify that a shock to the solar plexus will cause death and that the post-mortem examination will give no evidence to support or disprove the statement. The absolute absence, however, of any reason or of injury to the other organs will add weight to his testimony, evidence of the blow being present.”<br>
“And you think this was such a case?” asked Kennedy, with just a trace of a challenge in his tone.<br>
“Certainly,” replied the coroner. “Certainly. We know that a blow was struck—in all probability hard enough to affect the solar plexus.”<br>
It was evident, in his mind at least, that young Ferris was guilty and Kennedy rose to go, refraining from antagonizing him by further questions. We next visited the county court house, which was not far from the doctor’s office. There, the sheriff, a young man, met us and seemed willing to talk over the evidence which so far had been unearthed in the case.
In his office was a trunk, a cheap brown affair, in which the body of the unfortunate steward, Benson, had been found.<br>
“Quite likely the trunk had been carried to the spot in a car and thrown off,” the sheriff explained. “A couple of boys happened to find it. They told of their find and one of the constables opened the trunk, then called us up here. In the trunk was the body of a man, crouched, the head forced back between the knees.”<br>
“I’d like to see Benson’s body,” remarked Kennedy.<br>
“Very well, I’ll go with you,” returned the sheriff. “It’s at the undertaker’s—our only local morgue.”<br>
As we walked slowly up the street, the sheriff went on, just to show that country as well as city detectives knew a thing or two. “There are just two things in which this differs from the ordinary barrel or trunk murder you read about.”<br>
“What are they?” encouraged Craig.<br>
“Well, we know the victim. There wasn’t any difficulty about identifying him. We know it wasn’t really a Black Hand crime, although everything seems to have been done to make it look like one, and the body was left in the most lonely part of the country.<br>
“And then the trunk. “We have traced it easily to the Club House. It was Benson’s own trunk—had been up in his own room, which was locked.”<br>
“His own trunk?” repeated Craig, suddenly becoming interested. “How could anyone take it out, without being seen? Didn’t anyone hear anything?”<br>
“No. Apparently not. None of the other servants seem to have heard a thing. I don’t know how it could have been got out, especially as his door was locked and we found the keys on him. But—well, it was. That’s all.”<br>
We had reached the undertaker’s. The body of Benson was horribly mangled about the head and chest, particularly the mouth. It seemed as if a great hole had been torn in him, and he must have died instantly. Kennedy examined the gruesome remains most carefully.<br>
“What had done it, I wondered? Could the man have been drugged, perhaps, and then shot?<br>
“Maybe it was a dum-dum bullet,” I suggested, “one of those that mushrooms out and produces such frightful wounds.”<br>
“But assuming it entered the front, there is no exit in the back,” the sheriff put in quickly, “and no bullet has been found.”<br>
“Well, if he wasn’t shot,” I persisted, “it must have been a blow, and it seems impossible that a blow could have produced such an effect.”<br>
The sheriff said nothing, evidently preferring to gain with silence a reputation for superior wisdom. Kennedy had nothing better than silence to offer, either, though he continued for a long time examining the wounds on the body.<br>
Our last visit in town was to Fraser Ferris himself, to whom the sheriff agreed to conduct us. Ferris was confined in the grim, dark, stone, vine-clad county jail. We had scarcely entered the forbidding door of the place when we heard a step behind us. We turned to see Mrs. Ferris again. She seemed very much excited, and together we four, with a keeper, mounted the steps. As she caught sight of her son, behind the bars, she seemed to gasp, then nerve herself up to face the ordeal of seeing a Ferris in such a place.<br>
“Fraser,” she cried, running forward.<br>
He was tall, sunburned, and looked like a good sportsman, a clean-cut fellow. It was hard to think of him as a murderer, especially after the affecting meeting of the mother and son.<br>
“Do you know what I’ve just heard?” she asked at length, then scarcely pausing for a word of encouragement from him, she went on. “Why, they say that Benson was in town early that evening, drinking heavily and that that might account—”<br>
“There—there you are,” he cried earnestly. “I don’t know what happened. But why should I do anything to him? Perhaps someone waylaid him. That’s plausible.”<br>
“Of course,” warned Kennedy a few minutes later, “you know that anything you say may be used against you. But—” <br>
“I will talk,” interrupted the young man passionately, “although my lawyer tells me not to. Why, it’s all so silly. As for Irving Evans, I can’t see how I could have hit him hard enough, while, as for poor Benson,—well, that’s even sillier yet. How should I know anything of that? Besides, they were all at the Club late that night, all except me, talking over the—the accident. “Why don’t they suspect Wyndham? He was there. Why don’t they suspect—some of the others?”