Sleeping Dogs and Other Stories by Robert Leslie Bellem
Sleeping Dogs and Other Stories – Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective was a typical hardboiled private eye, who just happened to work the back lots and bedrooms of Hollywood. The vain film stars, the arrogant producers, the scheming agents and an endless array of glamorous female “starlets” were his clientele.
Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective was a typical hardboiled private eye, who just happened to work the back lots and bedrooms of Hollywood. The vain film stars, the arrogant producers, the scheming agents and an endless array of glamorous female “starlets” were his clientele. Here are four stories from the casebook of Dan Turner by Robert Leslie Bellem (1902-1968).
Sleeping Dogs (1934) – Follow Dan Turner, Hollywood’s two-fisted detective, through a murderous tangle of love and intrigue among the film stars.
Million Buck Snatch (1942) – Guns roared in Chinatown. The police took it calmly. “Another Tong war,” they said. But Hollywood’s super-sleuth was always a doubter. Wouldn’t it seem more reasonable that somebody had deliberately shot at the girl to keep her from tipping anyone off about the kidnapping?
Murder Done Twice (1942) – Only a little while ago Dan had seen Kathy and she had been dead—very, very dead. Now, alive as anyone possibly could be, she was sitting up, talking flirtatiously, positively amused at his amazement! What could it mean? Was his mind going?
Poison Payoff (1945) – Things had been so dull in Dan Turner’s private-eye business that he didn’t know where his next murder was coming from. But the dainty little manicurist named Malloy thought she knew—and it turned out she was right. And she and Dan were going to be more intimately involved than they imagined! . . .
Gas-House Still (1942) – It’s tough to have your client, a lovely movie star, killed almost before your eyes. . . . In trying to solve the murder mystery, Dan nearly co-starred in it as a corpse!
Sleeping Dogs and Other Stories has 6 illustrations.
Excerpt: Sleeping Dogs
HE was a handsome son-of-a-gun, I’ll say that much for him. But the minute he came into my office I knew he was worried about something. People don’t come into my office unless they are worried about something. That’s my business, putting a stop to other people’s worries. And that’s why plenty of citizens around Hollywood way are personally acquainted with the sign on my door which reads “Dan Turner, Private Detective.”
Anyhow, there stood Geoffrey Jackman, looking worried. He was tall—almost as tall as I am, which is six feet three—and except for the scars on one side of his face and the black patch where his right eye used to be, he still looked pretty much like a matinee idol. A property bomb had exploded prematurely one day, wrecking his mug and his acting career simultaneously. Since then he’d attained new heights as a director.
I opened the lower drawer of my desk and brought out two glasses and a bottle of Scotch. “Have a drink and tell me about it,” I invited.”
He poured himself a generous slug and downed it neat. The stuff didn’t seem to take the edge off his nervousness any. His one good eye had an uneasy glitter. I kept still. Letting other people do the talking is one of my stocks in trade.
Finally Jackman decided to unbutton his lip. “It’s about Leneta Leonard,” he said.
I wasn’t surprised. The Leonard girl was Galathea to Jackman’s Pygmalion. She’d been an obscure and mediocre extra when Jackman took her in hand. He’d made a star of her—a big one. Her box-office pull equaled anybody’s in Hollywood, and Jackman’s directing had been responsible.
Jackman helped himself to another jorum of fire-water. “Leneta Leonard’s in trouble—damn bad trouble. She wants you to help her.”
“Why didn’t she come up and tell me about it herself?” I asked.
“She’s afraid. She doesn’t want anybody to know she’s calling you in on the deal.”
“Somebody already does,” I said casually. Jackman started and stared at me with his one eye. I reached into my pocket and pulled out an envelope. I handed it to him. He opened it, and three nice, crisp, brand-new thousand dollar bills fluttered to my desk. He drew in his breath, then read the note which accompanied the money.
I knew what it said by heart. It had been shoved under my door that morning —hand-delivered. No stamp, no postmark whereby to trace its origin. Here’s the way it read:
It will be healthier for you if you lay off any case Lenata Leonard might ask you to handle. Here’s three grand for being a good boy. Try a double-cross and you’ll wake up shaking hands with the angels.
JACKMAN handed me back the note. “Well, that outbids me,” he remarked. “Leneta’s almost broke and so am I. Between us we couldn’t rake up more than five hundred apiece—and besides, your effectiveness would be reduced by this person’s knowledge that you’re on the case,” he gestured toward the letter.
That irked me. Frankly, I’m out after the heavy sugar. Luck can’t be with me forever, and some day there’s going to be a lead slug all tagged with my name and telephone number. I aim to get my pile and quit before the law of averages lays for me with a gut-full of steel-jacketed pills. Under ordinary circumstances I’d have cabbaged onto that three grand and told Jackman to take himself and Leneta’s troubles to hell or someplace. But when he pulled that crack about my effectiveness being reduced, I got bull-headed.
I reached for my phone and dialed the Examiner’s want-ad department “Take a personal ad,” I said. Then I dictated the ad. “Friend—send a messenger to get your three-thousand. I don’t want it. I’m running my own business to suit myself. Dan Turner.”
Then I turned to Geoffrey Jackman. who was looking at me in a curious way. “Now spill your grief. You’ve just hired a private detective.”
He hesitated. Then he decided to talk. “In the first place, don’t get me wrong,” he commenced. “Leneta and I are just good friends— nothing more.”
I let that slide. What these movie people do after working hours is no affair of mine. Besides, for all I knew, Jackman was telling the truth. Rumor had never linked him with the Leonard girl in an off-color way. I nodded and kept my mouth shut.
“Leneta is in love with Victor Croft.” Jackman stated it flatly, as though he weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. As a matter of fact, I had heard about it from various sources. Victor Croft was a newcomer in pictures. He was dark and smooth, and he had made a hit in gangster types. Jackson continued. “Leneta and Croft are to be married next month. I want to see her happy. I’m all in favor of the marriage. But Leneta’s being blackmailed. That’s why she’s broke. She’s already paid out fifty thousand dollars, and she’s being bled for more.”
I raised my eyebrows an eighth of an inch and lighted a cigarette to cover my surprise. Leneta Leonard’s being blackmailed was news to me, and it was my business to keep an ear to the ground for all the nasty undercurrents of Hollywood scandals. I waited for further enlightenment.
“Leneta made a misstep when she first came to Hollywood three years ago,” Jackman seemed embarrassed. “She—well, she fell into the hands of a blackleg producer who makes filthy pictures for the South American bawdy-house trade. He told her he’d give her the inside track to the major studios if she’d appear in one of his nasty reels. She was dumb and fell for his line of chatter. She figured that every girl who ever made a name in pictures had to pay so much flesh to get where she was going, and the sooner she got it over with, the better.”
Excerpt From: Robert Leslie Bellem. “Sleeping Dogs and Other Stories.”
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