The Glittering Coffins by Robert Sidney Bowen
On a manhunt for three escaped fugitives, Special Agent Dan Fowler coincidentally meets a very lovely former acquaintance who was once involved in an old case. Could she be at the center of this new mystery? Or was she different now?
The Glittering Coffins – On a manhunt for three escaped fugitives, Special Agent Dan Fowler coincidentally meets a very lovely former acquaintance who was once involved in an old case. Could she be at the center of this new mystery? Or was she different now?
And what will beautiful Agent Sally Vane think as Dan probes his old informant?
The Glittering Coffins (1949) – The touch of double-cross diamonds means death when a fighting G-man defies the dare of sinister crooks!
Chapter I – Jewels and a Murder
Chapter II – Old Score to Settle
Chapter III – Rooftop Escape
Chapter IV – Girl He Had Known
Chapter V – Just Junk
Chapter VI – Shadowy Gunman
Chapter VII – Suspicion of Murder
Chapter VIII – Through the Window
Chapter IX – Frightened Girl
Chapter X – A Trap Is Set
Chapter XI – Case Closed
Robert Sidney Bowen, Jr. (1900–1977) was a World War I aviator, newspaper journalist, magazine editor and author. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and died of cancer in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is best known for his boys’ series books written during World War II, the Dave Dawson War Adventure Series and the Red Randall Series.
The Glittering Coffins has 17 illustrations.
Excerpt: The Glittering Coffins
Jewels and a Murder
MRS. WARD STARR HARRISON smiled her complete approval of the gorgeous looking creature she saw reflected in the wall panel mirror. She liked the way the spun gold hair gave the precious softness of youth to her face. She approved of the way her wide set gray eyes seemed to look out upon the world with innocent, tempting invitation. She liked the added touch of the ivory French phone held daintily to one ear. In fact, for the moment at least, she almost liked her sixty-four-year-old husband who was at the other end of the phone line.
“But of course I miss you, Starr, darling!” she purred through to him. “Two weeks? But that’s such a long time! Of course, I’ll wait for your call every evening at this time. Tonight? I think I’ll just curl up with a good book. Yes, I’ll think of you. Yes! Take care of yourself, darling, and do make the two weeks fly, won’t you? I love you, too, darling. Bye-e-e!”
Mrs. Harrison replaced the phone in its cradle, cast one final glance at her reflection in the wall panel mirror, then grimaced and gave a little shake of her head as though ridding her brain of disagreeable thoughts. The dark haired, dark eyed, immaculately dressed man seated on the divan to her left chuckled and filled two glasses from a solid silver cocktail shaker.
“I’ve been called a lot of things, baby,” he said, “But never a book. Come here.”
She went over to him, took the cocktail and drained it in a single gulp. Then she smiled at him and gave him a two fingered pat on the cheek.
“Let’s get out of this morgue, Craig,” she said. “Where shall we go?”
“You name it, beautiful,” Craig Lanning said. “After all, you’re paying the check.”
For a brief instant anger flashed in Mrs. Harrison’s eyes. Even if he was an actor out of a job, and she would slip him the money for expenses on an evening like this, he didn’t need to be so obvious about it. Then suddenly she was all smiles.
“I know a lovely place,” she said. “It’s called the Star-Tip, and it’s way over Waltham way. Shall we go there, Craig?”
“Why not?” He smiled and took her in his arms and kissed her. She didn’t resist. “Um, lovely!”
“I’ll put on a wrap,” she said as she drew away from him. “Get the car.”
A HALF hour later he was driving some seven thousand dollars’ worth of Mrs. Harrison’s chrome studded convertible along the smooth highway that led toward Waltham some fifteen miles distant. Beside him Mrs. Harrison relaxed comfortably, and smiled at the countless stars, completely oblivious to the fact that another car was trailing the convertible at a safe distance.
In due time they arrived at the Star-Tip, parked the car and went inside. Several hours later, when the new day was well along, they came out and got into the convertible. Craig Lanning drove, and he had reached a point a couple of miles from Star-Tip when suddenly the blunt end of a gun was pressed against the back of his neck and a toneless voice spoke from the rear seat.
“Stop the car, chum, and both of you sit perfectly still!”
Stark fear froze in Lanning’s face, but he had sense enough to obey instantly and keep both hands on the wheel. Fear also froze Mrs. Harrison, and then suddenly she tried to turn her head. Instantly the business end of the gun struck her lightly on the cheek, a handkerchief was dropped into her lap, and the toneless voice spoke again.
“All your rings, pins, and stuff into that handkerchief!” the voice said. “All of it, or your boy friend’s brains are going to splash all over you! And tie the corners tight. Hurry it up!”
For a brief instant fear retained its rigid grip on Mrs. Ward Starr Harrison, and then another gun tap on her cheek released her. Shaking with dry, soundless sobs she removed every piece of jewelry she was wearing and dropped it into the handkerchief. Then with trembling fingers she tied the four corners to form a little bag.
Hardly had she done that when a hand snaked out and snatched the bag out of her grasp. The car shook slightly as the figure in back vaulted out and down onto the road. That figure was still just a toneless voice to the pair in the front seat.
“Okay, get going!” it said. “Turn your heads and you’ll receive a slug to chew on. Get going, chum.”
Craig Lanning didn’t waste time. He let the clutch in with a snap and the car leaped forward. He had it in high gear before he’d traveled fifty yards. Another fifty yards and Mrs. Harrison snapped out of her fear frozen trance. She pounded her two clenched fists on her knees and started cursing a blue streak — and she knew all the words. Lanning turned wide eyes her way.
“Lady, have you been around!” he breathed — then curtly: “Cut it, baby. Where’s the nearest State Police Barracks?”
The question cut off Mrs. Harrison’s curses as though a door had been slammed shut. She sat up stiffly and glared at him.
“Are you crazy?” she rasped out. “Have it in every paper that I was out with you? I’m not that big a sap.”
“Don’t be a fool,” Lanning said. “That guy took everything you own.”
“Shut up!” she half screamed at him. “Shut up and let me think. Just shut up and drive me home!”
Lanning shrugged, and then gave full attention to his driving.
“Okay,” he grunted. “Go ahead and have yourself a good think. It has been nice knowing you baby, but I’m bowing out of this.”
“That suits me,” said Mrs. Harrison coldly. “Now keep quiet! I still want to think.”
Mrs. Ward Starr Harrison thought after he had left her, and thought for the rest of that night, and on through most of the next day. However, the more she thought the more she failed to come up with any worthwhile plan of action. True, several times she made a move toward the ivory French phone to call the police. But each time she checked herself.
Peggy Marie Riley had been born way over on the other side of the tracks, and not until she was thirty-one did real riches come into her life. For two years now, she had been Mrs. Ward Starr Harrison, and the world was hers with a nice little gold picket fence around it.
Two years, now, and she had already forgotten a whole lot of things that had happened up to that rainy day when she was waiting for a cab outside the theatre and a million-dollar car splashed muddy water all over her, and a nice old guy bawled out his chauffeur and insisted that she get in and be driven to her walk-up four-flights diggings.
No, she wouldn’t take that chance by calling the police. It would get into the papers, Starr would learn the truth, and she’d be out into the gutter on her ear. Starr would do it, too. Her husband was the most jealous man she had ever met. He had poured jewels on her like rain drops, given her a nice little five-figure bank balance to play with, and her slightest wish was his command. But if he ever learned she had been two-timing him, then— No, no cops!
Excerpt From: Robert Sidney Bowen. “The Glittering Coffins”
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