Scandalous periodical "The Gossip's Corner" is run by a supposed blackmailer whose identity has baffled the police -- until T.B. Smith, a singlularly acute Assistant Commisioner, gradually tracks the man to the Secret House.
He was chuckling, partly at Poltavo's surprise, partly at some amusing thought.
"Well done, Poltavo," he said; "excellently fenced."
"Did you hear?" asked the Pole, surprised in spite of himself.
"Every word," said the other. "Well, what do you think of it?"
Poltavo pulled a chair from the wall and sat down facing his chief.
"I think it is very clever," he said admiringly, "but I also think I am not getting sufficient salary."
The veiled man nodded.
"I think you are right," he agreed, "and I will see that it is increased. What a fool the woman was to come here!"
"Either a fool or a bad actress," said Poltavo.
"What do you mean?" asked the other quickly.
Poltavo shrugged his shoulders.
"To my mind," he said after a moment's thought, "there is no doubt that I have witnessed a very clever comedy. An effective one, I grant, because it has accomplished all that was intended."
"And what was intended?" asked Mr. Brown curiously.
A long and complicated procedural story about a diabolical blackmailer and master criminal; his henchman, an Italian count; T.B. Smith, the Scotland Yard detective who tracks them; and assorted bystanders. It goes off on a variety of tangents, and although Wallace eventually weaves all the bits together, the novel suffers from the lack of a strong central character.
A fun read, although the ending is a bit abrupt.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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