k of a firm in town, a check that bore a genuine signature. In it they would make such trifling changes in the body as would attract no attention in passing, yet would yield a substantial sum toward wiping out Carlton's unfortunate deficit.
Late as he had worked the night before, nervous and shaky as he felt after the sleepless hours of planning their new life, Carlton was the first at the office in the morning. His hand trembled as he ran through the huge batch of mail already left at the first delivery. He paused as he came to one letter with the name "W. J. REYNOLDS CO." on it.
Here was a check in payment of a small bill, he knew. It was from a firm which habitually kept hundreds of thousands on deposit at the Gorham Bank. It fitted the case admirably. He slit open the letter. There, neatly folded, was the check:
No. 15711. Dec. 27, 191--.
THE GORHAM NATIONAL BANK
Pay to the order of....... Green & Co.......
Twenty-five 00/100 ..................Dollars
Arthur B. Reeve created an interesting woman detective, Clare Kendall, in The Ear in the Wall. Unfortunately, she was somewhat overshadowed by Craig Kennedy, and was never given a book of her own.
Constance Bennett is less a detective than an anti-detective, dedicated to helping criminals cover their tracks. This might have made her interesting, like Leslie Chaarteres's Simon Templar, if her actions let smaller criminals and naifs escape while punishing the people higher up. In a few cases, this is what she does, as in the case of a kleptomaniac who is being made the scapegoat for a systematic shop lifter. But for the most part her clients (like herself) are driven only by greed and resentment against somebody, not necessarily the person they are robbing. Constance herself starts as a successful forger and protects, among others, the treasurer of an import firm who is induced by his superiors to bribe customs inspectors and feels that this entitles him to embezzle from the company. She advises extortion by collecting the evidence of their involvement in the bribes. He, as a result, is not charged and keeps his position and goes on passing bribes and probably embezzling. She becomes driven by a dislike for a somwhat shady and very good private detective to get the criminals off. She finally ends by earning the grudging admiration of the detective and the love of a superintendent of a bank vault who has been looting the safe deposit boxes.
Not a bad book, but not a very sympathetic character. I found myself wishing that it were Craig Kennedy rather than Dillon on the trail.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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