Murder Is My Dish - Stephen Marlowe - ebook

Murder Is My Dish ebook

Stephen Marlowe

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A kidnapped intellectual and a dead partner take Drum to South America. When Andy Dineen tires of the FBI, he jumps ship for Langley and joins the CIA to fight the Cold War in Berlin. After years in the spy game, he grows sick of the paperwork, and is considering his options when an old friend, private detective Chester Drum, offers him a job. Drum is surprised when his old academy classmate takes him up on it, and shocked when it gets Dineen killed. Dineen's first and last case is a stint as a bodyguard for a South American intellectual who's writing an exposé of his nation's savage dictator. When the strongman's thugs kidnap the author and bludgeon Dineen, Drum rushes to the hospital just in time to watch his friend die. Avenging Dineen will mean a trip to South America, and infiltrating a palace whose secret police are not half as dangerous as the despot's daughter. Review Quote: "Hard-boiled ... in both action and telling." - The New York Times Book Review "A great pulpster ... always one of my favorites." - Ed Gorman, author of The Poker Club "Marlowe's buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters." - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Langton's sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader." - Publishers Weekly "Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch Biographical note: Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based private detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955). Although a detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

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About the Book

A kidnapped intellectual and a dead partner take Drum to South America.

When Andy Dineen tires of the FBI, he jumps ship for Langley and joins the CIA to fight the Cold War in Berlin. After years in the spy game, he grows sick of the paperwork, and is considering his options when an old friend, private detective Chester Drum, offers him a job. Drum is surprised when his old academy classmate takes him up on it, and shocked when it gets Dineen killed.

Dineen’s first and last case is a stint as a bodyguard for a South American intellectual who’s writing an exposé of his nation’s savage dictator. When the strongman’s thugs kidnap the author and bludgeon Dineen, Drum rushes to the hospital just in time to watch his friend die. Avenging Dineen will mean a trip to South America, and infiltrating a palace whose secret police are not half as dangerous as the despot’s daughter.

Review Quote:

“Hard-boiled ... in both action and telling.” - The New York Times Book Review

“A great pulpster ... always one of my favorites.” - Ed Gorman, author of The Poker Club

“Marlowe’s buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters.” - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Langton’s sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader.” - Publishers Weekly

“Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished.” - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

About the Author

Stephen Marlowe (1928–2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).

Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler’s characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

Murder Is My Dish

A Chester Drum Mystery

Stephen Marlowe

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2014 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1957 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Kathleen Lynch

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-193-6

 

www.luebbe.de

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter One

THE MAN was dying.

They had inserted a tube in his nose and another in his arm. A bottle of bright red blood hung suspended overhead. Bandages made his broken hands seem too big for the body under the sheet. A third tube trailed out under the sheet and into a gleaming metal tank alongside the bed.

“Andy,” I said.

“He can’t hear you,” the resident said.

“He got a chance?” I asked mechanically. The ward smelled of antiseptic, alcohol, and death. They had erected portable screens around the dying man’s bed, as if to isolate death from the rest of the ward.

“We’re doing all we can,” the resident told me. He had a young face, pale in the glow of the night lamp and splotched with freckles. The man on the bed was breathing with difficulty: a drawn out sigh, then a quiver of his lips, then an explosive exhalation like a lunger’s last cough. Against the white of the sheet and pillow case his face looked green. It was beaded with droplets of sweat and swollen out of shape with contusions.

“But it won’t be enough,” I said. “Will it?”

The resident spoke, staring at the gleaming metal tank. “Both his kidneys are smashed. He has broken ribs and a punctured lung. He’s bled a lot internally. If he hadn’t been brought here to Bellevue, he’d be dead already. There aren’t many artificial kidneys in New York. It’s keeping him alive.”

The bed was at the far end of the ward, away from the corridor. I got out from behind the screen and walked over to the window. It was dark outside, but you could see fat, wet, windless snowflakes falling in front of the windows of the building across the hospital street. After a while I turned around and stuck an unlit cigarette in my mouth.

“How did it happen?”

“I couldn’t tell you that.”

“Then who could?”

“Receiving, maybe.”

The man on the bed said: “… mistral.”

We both went over there. The resident dabbed at the dying man’s face with a wet cloth. It came away pink. “Go ahead, Andy,” I said. “It’s Chet. I’m listening, boy. Go ahead.”

“He can’t hear you. He’s mumbled that before.”

“Mistral?”

“Yes. Isn’t it some kind of a wind?”

“Andy,” I said, leaning down over the bed. “Go on, boy.”

His eyelids fluttered but did not lift. His lips worked. “… mistral,” he said again. His mouth opened and blood poured out. Beyond the screen a bedspring creaked and a man moaned in his sleep as if death, coming this way, had brushed his cheek.

A rattling noise came from Andy’s throat. He lifted one of his bandaged hands and let it fall. When the noise was over, he wasn’t Andy any longer. He was just a number which would be assigned a box in the Bellevue morgue until burial arrangements could be made.

I turned away. The resident squeezed my shoulder and asked if I wanted some hot coffee. I shook my head and shook his hand off irritably and went out through the dim ward to the corridor. Two attendants wheeled an empty stretcher off the elevator. I thought they were psychic or able to smell death or maybe I was projecting and the stretcher wasn’t for Andy’s body at all. I went downstairs to Receiving.

“Go along with you, O’Hara,” the nurse on duty said to a nervous little man shuffling his feet and holding a battered fedora in his hands and looking down at the floor. “It’s a bed to sleep in you’re wanting, and a good hot meal.”

“It’s bleeding,” O’Hara insisted, holding up a slightly scratched finger.

“I do wish we could be helping you, O’Hara, on a cold night like it is. But we just don’t have enough beds.”

O’Hara looked up at her with sudden defiance. He was dressed shabbily and needed a shave almost as much as he needed a bath. He smelled like every drunk tank in every county jail from here to Spokane, Washington. “I’ll get blood poisoning and die,” he predicted.

“Go along with you, O’Hara,” the nurse said, and when she said nothing else O’Hara shuffled abjectly out. For no reason at all I stopped him and gave him a dollar bill. Then he went out through the door.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” the nurse said. “He’ll booze it. All of it. There isn’t a week goes by that O’Hara doesn’t come here. When we have the bed space we admit him for a good night’s sleep and a shower and a hot meal. But sure and this isn’t the Salvation Army.”

“Drum’s the name,” I said, placing a card on the counter which told her I was a private detective with an office in Washington, D.C.

“Yes, Mr. Drum?”

“This morning you admitted a man named Andrew Dineen.”

“I wasn’t on duty this morning.”

“I’d like to speak to someone from the ambulance that brought him in.”

She opened a big ledger and studied it for a moment. “What did you want to see them about? Are you a relative?”

“He has no family I know of. They found my card in his pocket and sent me a telegram. I flew up from Washington.”

Her good-natured face brightened. “Sure, and I remember when you came in, Mr. Drum. And how is your friend?”

“He died. I sent him here. I talked him into quitting a soft job he had with the government to come to work for me. It was his first case.”

She looked at me. Her eyes welled with compassion. This was the wrong job for her. It was killing her slowly.

“Hell,” I said, “I’m as bad as O’Hara. Can I see someone?”

She wrote out a pass for me and gave me directions. I went through a corridor and up a flight of stairs and gave my pass to an attendant. He looked at me and seemed surprised, but waved me to a chair and dialed a phone and spoke into it. I remained standing.

Pretty soon a door down the corridor opened and closed softly and footsteps padded on the hard floor. A young fellow wearing a bathrobe and a sleepy expression came over and said: “I’m Dr. Lehman.”

“You brought in an accident case this morning. Big guy, big as I am, broken ribs and a punctured lung and smashed kidneys?”

The intern glanced at the attendant, who nodded and said: “McGuire says okay.”

“You a cop?” the intern asked me.

“Not the kind you have in mind. Private. Can you tell me about it?”

“Victim’s dead, huh?”

I said yes, he was dead.

“Brother, you could tell he didn’t have a chance. He’d lost maybe a quart of blood internally when the ambulance got there. You could tell it was his lung from the way he was spitting. Didn’t know about the kidney, though.”

“Both of them,” the attendant said. “You said both of them, didn’t you, mister?”

“Where was it?” I asked the intern.

“Wait a minute, let me think. We have so many of them.”

“Wasn’t he the one squeezing his stomach together and keeping his guts from spilling all over the place?” the attendant asked with morbid fascination. “Joe told me.”

The intern shook his head. “I’ve got it now,” he said. “It was in a bar and grill off West Street in the twenties. They said he staggered in there and got as far as the phone before he collapsed. It was a miracle he got that far.”

“Where’d he come from?”

“They didn’t say. It was after three in the morning. He just opened the door and staggered in. Say, the beat cop over there might be able to help you.”

“What’s the name of the place?”

He thought for a moment while the attendant asked: “What happened to the guy holding in his guts? Wife slashed him with a knife, Joe said. Over another woman.”

The intern winked at me. He told the attendant: “Joe talks too much. So do you.”

“Aw, hey, doc,” the attendant said.

“Sloppy Pete’s,” the intern said suddenly. “I knew it was a funny name. On Twenty-fourth off of West, I think.”

I thanked him, went outside and buttoned my topcoat and walked down the hospital street through the snow. This was the middle of December and the ground was still too warm for the snow to stick. It thawed on contact, but here and there a few patches of slippery slush covered the wet sidewalk. I went through the gates to First Avenue and hailed a cab.

We drove across town through the snow. My mind was as empty as the streets. It was almost midnight when I paid off the cab in front of Sloppy Pete’s. It was the usual waterfront bar and grill, the plate-glass windows misted over from the contact of warm and cold air, the window signs proclaiming the blue-plate special and the obvious fact that sailors were welcome partially obscured, the red neon sign buzzing with two of the letters out so the sign actually said Slopp ete’s.

I didn’t go in right away. I walked down the block to West Street and across the cobbles under the dark silhouette of the expressway. Cars sped by overhead, their tires whispering and rumbling on the wet cobblestones. I stood in the black shadows of the pier buildings and breathed in the cold wet air with my empty mind for company. I tried to conjure up a picture of Andy Dineen’s face, and couldn’t. I had known him a long time and in the old days had known him well. We’d gone through the F.B.I. Academy together and had stuck out our first and only hitch with the Bureau together. Then Andy had decided he’d rather go overseas for the Central Intelligence Agency and I’d put up my private detective shingle in Washington. Last summer I’d bumped into Andy over in Germany, and when he said he was more than a little fed up with the C.I.A. paperwork, I half-seriously offered him a job. That was the last I’d heard of him until earlier this week, when he popped into my office on Washington’s F Street, smiled, scaled his hat onto the rack, and asked for his first assignment. His first assignment had been this one in New York. He would never get another, from me or anyone.

I walked along in the shadow of the pier buildings, reading the names of the banana republic freight lines. I went as far as a stack of crates in front of the Parana Republic Lines. A watchman sat hunkered, cold and uncomfortable, over the glow from a fire can. I nodded at him and he looked at me with suspicious, wary interest. The air was cold, and very clear for New York. The numb emptiness had gone from my mind: I was ready for Sloppy Pete’s now.

Then I saw the stenciled lettering in the fire glow on the crate nearest the watchman. It said:

“Consigned to P.R. Lines, S.S. Mistral.”

Chapter Two

THE WATCHMAN took a cigar, a pen knife, and a pipe from his pea coat pocket. He set the pipe down carefully on top of the crate, snipped about an inch of the cigar off with the pen knife, put the rest of the cigar away, inserted the stubby end into his pipe, poked it down hard with his thumb, and lit it with a satisfied grunt. The smell of cheap cigar smoke came to me as he sucked on the pipe.

I smiled and said, “You trying to put the package tobacco people out of business?”

His face was seamed and leathery, like an airview of hard brown furrowed earth which should have been left fallow. His deep-set eyes were small black holes in the night. “No hablo ingles,” he said.

That wasn’t very likely in his job, but I didn’t push it. I have Spanish, and used it to say, “That was some fight last night.”

He stared at me, sucking his pipe and blowing clouds of cigar smoke into the snow. His hand moved like a crab along one of the crates, stopping near a stick twice as big around as a broom handle. “Fight?” he said, repeating the word as if my Spanish had been faulty.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!