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Dan Turner—Hollywood Detective, January, 1942
COOKED!
By Robert Leslie Bellem
An ounce of murder-prevention is worth a pound of chasing
a killer. So Dan tries to help the girl—only to find that a
very fast one is being pulled on him.
TIPPED the bell-hop four bits and said:
“Scram, kid.” He winked at me and beat
it. Then I locked the door of that hotel
bedroom and turned around.
Lola Lambert was already peeling off her
duds. In the glow of the room’s single,
shaded lamp I watched her. She unfastened
her dress, whipped it off over her brunette
curls. Then she stood there in snug-fitting
silken panties bandeaux, and sheer chiffon
hose.
She smiled and said: “Well, Dan
Turner—do you think I’m seductive enough
to interest my own husband when he
arrives?”
I blinked and set fire to a gasper. “Damn
tootin’!” I agreed. And I meant it. I exhaled a
lungful of smoke and put the focus on her.
She was a sock in the eye, no fooling.
Just to look at her made me itch all over. Her
raven black hair made her skin seem even
whiter than it really was. Her dark eyes were
twin challenges, and she pursed her crimson
lips as if inviting a kiss.
I
Hollywood Detective 2
But I kept myself under control. After
all, a private dick hasn’t got any right to play
around with his clients; and Lola Lambert
was a client of mine. Besides, I didn’t have
time for any monkeyshines. Lola’s estranged
hubby, Dr. Timothy Lambert, was due to
arrive any minute. And the stage had to be
set for him.
I watched while Lola opened her
overnight bag. She extracted a diaphanous
negligee, slipped herself into it. The garment
clung to her like a wet spiderweb, concealing
very little of her feminine charms. Lord, but
that dame was built! It was no wonder she
dragged down ten grand a week as a star in
F-K-V Pictures. She had what it takes.
As soon as she had adjusted the negligee
to her own satisfaction, she gave me a
worried look. “It’s time for Timothy to be
showing up, isn’t it?” she whispered
nervously.
I looked at my wrist-ticker. It was nine in
the evening. “Yeah,” I said.
“Then—hadn’t you better hide?”
I nodded and went to the closet on the
other side of the room. It wasn’t a very deep
closet, and I had a hell of a time squeezing
my bulk into it. But I made the grade, pulled
the door almost shut after me.
QUATTING there in the semidarkness, I
began to wonder. It suddenly struck me
that I was being more of a damned fool than
usual. Kidnaping is ugly stuff to fool with in
California. If anything went haywire, I might
find my elbow in a sling. On the other hand,
Lola Lambert was paying me five G’s to put
the snatch on her estranged hubby for just
one night. And five G’s is important geetus
in my language.
So I kept my fingers crossed and hoped
for the best.
A couple of minutes dragged by. Then I
heard a knock on the door of the bedroom,
and I peeped out of my closet.
I saw Lola Lambert open the bedroom
door and step back. A guy walked into the
room. He was Dr. Timothy Lambert, Lola’s
hubby. He was a dark, short guy with a
perpetual sneer. When he saw his wife, he
stiffened.
“Lola!” he growled. “What the hell does
this mean? I received an urgent call to come
to this hotel room. Someone said it was an
emergency case. Now I find you here.
What’s the idea?”
Lola said: “Tim . . . darling . . .!” and
held her arms out to him. At the same time,
she allowed the front of her negligee to come
open. From where he was standing, her
husband certainly got one swell eye-full of
breasts and things.
But the damned sap didn’t seem a bit
interested. He must have been made of ice.
He said: “Layoff the coquetry, Lola. You
know how matters stand between us. That
stuff is out—absolutely out.” His voice was
rasping, frigid.
“Oh, I know, Tim!” Lola whispered
forlornly. Her shoulders slumped. “You’ve
been so infatuated with that blonde Honey
Holland girl that you’ve lost all your love for
me. But now that Honey’s leaving
Hollywood, I thought . . . maybe . . .”
I crouched in my closet, watching and
listening to what went on. Mentally I
reviewed what I knew about Lola Lambert
and her doctor-husband. This Timothy
Lambert person was a drugless physician; he
called himself an electropath. He did all his
healing with ultra-violet rays, sun-lamps and
the like. As the husband of a prominent
screen star like Lola, he’d built himself a
swell practice among the Hollywood picture
people.
Recently, however, Dr. Lambert had
fallen neck-over-appetite in love with a cute
little bleached-blonde extra dame named
Honey Holland. The affair had reached the
stage where Lambert had left Lola
altogether; and gossip had it that he spent
most of his time in Honey Holland’s
S
Cooked! 3
apartment.
Looking at him from my closet, I
wondered how in hell any frill could ever
fall for him. He was lean, little, ugly. And
right now he had a sneer on his map that
made me want to soak him square in the
teeth. He was pushing Lola away from him
and saying: “Never mind bringing Miss
Holland’s name into this, Lola. And as far as
you and I are concerned—we’re through!
Get me?” He started backing toward the
door.
It beats hell how a woman’s love for a
guy can make her lose all her self-respect
and backbone. That’s what was happening to
Lola Lambert. I saw her go to her knees
before her hubby, like a slave. “Tim—you
can’t leave me—!” she pleaded. She
clutched at his legs.
“Lay off me!” he rasped. “I’ve got work
to do tonight. Important work. Let me go.”
I could see that she was fighting a lost
cause. He didn’t go for what she had. Not
one damned bit. I realized that Lola had lost
her play. It had been her intention to keep
him occupied all night, if she could. But now
that she’d failed, it was up to me to step into
the picture and put the grab on him; earn my
five grand fee.
I waited until Lola had maneuvered him
around so that his back was toward me. Then
I stepped softly out of the closet. I dragged
out my .32 roscoe from its shoulder-holster. I
reversed it. Then I tapped Dr. Timothy
Lambert on the noggin. I wasn’t too gentle
about it, either.
He went out like a light.
EFORE HE hit the floor, I grabbed out
the length of cord I had ready in my
pocket. Then I tied the doctor’s wrists
behind him; tied his ankles, too. I slapped a
handkerchief into his kisser, wadded it tight.
Lola looked at me. “You—you
haven’t—hurt him badly, have you?” she
whispered.
I said: “Not as bad as he deserves!”
“You know where to—to take him?” she
asked me.
I grunted, nodded. Then I said: “Will you
still be here when I get back?”
“Y-yes. I’ll w-wait for you. Then we’ll
make sure Honey Holland gets away on the
eleven o’clock plane for New York. After
that, it will be safe to release Timothy . . .”
“Okay,” I told her. “Leave everything to
me.” I started for the window. We’d engaged
this particular room because the fire-escape
ran directly past it. Now I raised the sash,
took a swift gander into the darkness outside.
Below me, the alley was dark, deserted. The
coast was clear.
I hefted Dr. Timothy Lambert’s
unconscious form to my shoulder, crawled
out the window with him. I started down.
Behind me, Lola shut the sash and pulled
down the shade.
It was no trick at all to carry Lambert
down to the alley, hoist him into my parked
coupe. Then I crawled in alongside his
slumped figure and stepped on the starter. I
headed my jalopy hell-for-leather toward
Culver City.
Twenty minutes later I parked behind the
F-K-B studio lot where Lola Lambert
worked. The big, gloomy sound-stage
buildings loomed out of the darkness like
ghosts; a fog was beginning to blow in from
Santa Monica. I didn’t mind that. I was glad
for it. The gathering mists would keep any
stray passer-by from seeing what I was up to.
I dragged Dr. Timothy Lambert out of
my hack, lugged him toward the old open-air
studio behind the present F-K-B buildings.
This old-time open-air lot was where movies
had been made in the old days of silent
films, before the advent of the talkies; before
it was necessary to have vast, sound-proof,
enclosed stages.
The place was a junk-yard of discarded
sets; a mystic maze of littered back-drops,
false-fronted buildings and the like. It hadn’t
B
Hollywood Detective 4
been used in years; there wasn’t even a
watchman on guard at the entrance. Earlier
that day, Lola Lambert had taken me through
the joint; had shown me a swell spot to park
her erring hubby for the night.
Through a screwy puzzle of western
towns, dippy-looking European villages and
miscellaneous disused outdoor sets I carried
the unconscious Dr. Timothy Lambert. At
last I came to the place I was looking for. It
was a dilapidated, old-time set representing a
medieval castle courtyard.
The main door of the castle’s false front
was a practical prop—it really worked on
hinges. I opened it and stepped inside. I
dumped Dr. Lambert on a pile of littered
trash and cobwebs. Then I pulled out a
gasper and flared a match to it.
In the light of the match, I saw Lambert’s
eyes flutter open. He stared up at me—and if
a glance could have killed me, I’d have been
one dead rooster. He choked around his gag;
tried to curse at me.
LEANED over him, blew smoke in his
mug. I said: “Take it easy, Doc. I’m really
doing you a favor, putting you out of
circulation for the night. I’m keeping you
from being a murderer. And I’ll turn you
loose by daybreak.”
“Mm-f-ff! Gl-lg-gg!” he chewed at his
gag.
I said: “Listen, boy-friend. If you only
knew it, this is the sweetest break you ever
got. Lola, your wife, has told me all about
your quarrel with your sweetie, Honey
Holland. I’m hep to the whole damned setup. You and the blonde Holland chicken had
one hell of a row. That’s why the Holland
baby is leaving Hollywood tonight. She is
taking the eleven o’clock plane for New
York—and from there, she’s going to
London to work in British films.”
Lambert choked some more.
I went on: “When you fought with
Honey Holland, you made certain threats.
You told her that if she left you, you’d bump
her off. You’re so dippy about that blonde
tramp that you’d rather have her dead than
away from you. And from what your wife
has told me about you, you’re just vindictive
enough to go through with some murder
scheme against Honey Holland.”
Lambert glared up at me.
I said: “Well, Doc, you’re getting a
break. It so happens that Lola, your wife,
loves you to beat hell—in spite of the way
you’ve treated her. She loved you so damned
much that she doesn’t want you getting into
any jams with old John Law. In other words,
Lola was afraid that you would carry out
your threat—that you’d kill Honey Holland
tonight, before Honey could get on the plane
for the east. Therefore, Lola hired me to put
the snatcheroo on you; to keep you here until
morning. By that time, Honey Holland will
be well on her way—and you won’t be able
to do anything rash about it. See?”
He squirmed and twisted as if he’d gone
completely utsnay. He kept shaking his head
from side to side and glaring at me, as if to
deny what I’d said. But what the hell! I
didn’t pay any attention to his head-shaking.
I just blew him a kiss and left him there.
I puzzled my way through the maze of
battered, weather-beaten open-air sets and
finally got to my jalopy. Just as I crawled
into the hack, I saw somebody in a parked
roadster across the street. It worried me a
little; and I swung my own machine around
in a U-turn, so that I’d pass close to that
parked roadster.
Just as I drove by the other gas-buggy,
I
Cooked! 5
the guy leaned forward to flick on his
ignition-switch and his dash-light. In the
glow, I saw his pan. I recognized him. He
was Freddie Lerch, the F-K-V director. He’d
been with F-K-V Studios for years; but what
the hell was he doing here now, at this late
hour of the night? And how long had he been
here? Had he seen me lugging Dr. Timothy
Lambert into that old back lot?
S I DROVE on past him, something
bothered me, puzzled me. It was a stray
bit of gossip I’d heard somewhere. What was
it? Then I remembered. About a year ago,
the scandal-mongers had linked Freddie
Lerch’s name with the blonde extra girl,
Honey Holland! Lerch was supposed, at that
time, to have been in love with the Holland
floozie. Then he lost her to Dr. Lambert. Or
anyhow, that’s what the gossips said.
It was a damned peculiar coincidence
that Lerch should be there on that spot
tonight, of all nights. It had been rumored,
some while back, that Lerch was sore as hell
at Dr. Timothy Lambert because Lambert
had taken Honey Holland away from him.
Of course, Lerch had never done anything
about it. Just the same, I didn’t like the idea
of seeing Freddie Lerch at this particular
time and place.
However, there wasn’t anything I could
do about it. So I headed my jalopy back
toward Hollywood; and about a half-hour
later I walked into that hotel bedroom where
I’d left Lola Lambert.
She was still there, waiting for me. And
she was still wearing that filmy, revealing
negligee. The minute I walked into the room,
she came toward me.
She said: “D-did you leave Timothy in
that castle courtyard set?”
I said: “Yeah. Left him all tied I up like a
bundle of meat. He’ll be safe until morning.”
“Oh—how can I thank you, Dan
Turner?” she whispered. “You’ve saved him
from . . . being a murderer. . . .”
I grinned and said: “You needn’t thank
me. After all, you paid me five thousand
clams for the job.”
“Yes, b-but—you d-don’t know how mmuch this all means to me!” she whimpered.
And she crept close to me, as if she wanted
me to cuddle her in my arms and comfort
her.
Well, that wasn’t hard to do. After all,
I’m human—and Lola Lambert was certainly
one of the prettiest pieces of female I’d ever
run into. I slipped an arm around her waist
and pulled her against me.
She felt warm and seductive to my touch.
I could feel the satin smoothness of her
body, through that thin negligee—and I
could see plenty, too. First thing I knew, I
was tilting her chin upward.
I planted my lips against her a mouth and
kissed her.
She certainly knew how to kiss. Her
fragrance drifted to my smeller, started my
pulses to pounding in my temples. She
strained me toward her. “Dan—!” she
whispered. “I—I wasn’t able to attract my
own husband. Was it because I’m so . . .
ugly . . .?”
I said: “Ugly? Hell, no, darling! You’ve
got everything!”
She cuddled closer . . .
ATER, WHEN I saw that it was getting
close to eleven o’clock, I said: “We’d
better be on our way, Lola. We’ve got to get
to the Glendale airport in time to see that
Honey Holland boards that eleven o’clock
plane for New York.”
“All right, D-Dan,” Lola whispered. She
slipped off her negligee, put on her dress. I
watched the operation. No question about it,
Lola Lambert was built. . . .!
She stuffed her negligee into her
overnight bag, and together we left the room;
left the hotel. We got into my jalopy and
drove toward Glendale. We reached the
airport just five minutes before the New
A
L
Hollywood Detective 6
York plane pulled out.
I took a squint at the passengers aboard
the plane. But I didn’t see the blonde Honey
Holland. She should have been there by that
time. I went into the station, found the ticketagent. I said: “Didn’t you have a reservation
for a Miss Holland on this plane?”
He said: “Yes.”
“Was it canceled at the last minute?” I
asked him.
“No. But she hasn’t arrived yet,” he told
me.
I went back outside, kept my peepers
peeled for the last-minute arrival of the
Holland babe. But she didn’t show up. The
plane took off without her.
I went back to my parked coupe, where
Lola Lambert was waiting for me. Lola
looked pale: “She—she didn’t make the
plane!” she whispered.
“No. She didn’t make it,” I said.
Lola said: “Do—do you suppose . . .
something has happened to her? Is it possible
that Timothy got loose and . . . killed her
before she left her apartment . . .?”
“Not a chance!” I said. “I left him tied
plenty tight.”
“Then I don’t understand why Honey
Holland didn’t get here in time to catch that
plane!” Lola cried. Her lips were trembling.
As I crawled into my coupe, alongside her,
she grabbed my arm. “Dan!” she whispered.
“Take me out to that R-K-V lot. I w-want to
make sure Timothy is still there—”
I nodded. Matter of fact, I wanted to
check up on the doctor myself. So I nosed
the jalopy toward Culver City and stepped
on the gas.
Lola Lambert sat close to me, and I could
feel her thigh trembling as I drove. She was
still trembling when we got out in front of
that disused outdoor lot behind the R-K-V
sound stages.
HE FOG was thicker than soup by that
time. I’d have lost my way in the maze
of obsolete outdoor sets if it hadn’t been for
Lola. She seemed to know exactly where she
was going. I followed her; and pretty soon
we came to the medieval courtyard set where
I’d left her husband all tied up.
I dragged out my pencil flashlight, found
the castle door. I shoved on it; and it stuck.
That seemed queer, because it had worked
perfectly when I’d last opened it. I put my
shoulder against the portal and shoved. The
door finally creaked open.
I swept the beam of my flash in a short
circle; and then I said: “What—!”
Dr. Timothy Lambert was gone!
There wasn’t a trace of him anywhere.
Not even a sign of the cord with which I’d
tied him up. I felt a cold premonition sliding
down my spine. Lambert had escaped. And
Honey Holland, the girl he’d threatened to
murder, hadn’t shown up to catch her New
York plane . . . .!
Lola Lambert pressed herself against me.
“My God!” she whispered in a frightened
voice. “He’s gone! He’s killed Honey
Holland! They’ll hang him . . . .!”
I said: “Take it slow, baby. Maybe we’re
all wrong about that. Maybe the Holland
floozie was detained for some other reason.
We had better check up on her.”
“No! We must checkup on Timothy,”
Lola moaned. She was dragging me back
through the maze of sets. In the fog, we
found the exit from that back lot; scrambled
into my hack. Then I started gunning my
motor, aiming for Hollywood.
“We’ll go to Timothy’s house first!”
Lola said tensely. “He might still be there—”
I nodded, shoved my throttle to the
floorboards. We cut through the fog like a
knife through pea soup; and pretty soon we
screeched to a halt before the house on
Sunset where Timothy Lambert had been
living since he’d split with his wife.
There were lights downstairs in the
place; and when we raced up to the porch, I
saw that the front door was open just a little T
Cooked! 7
way. I smacked into that door, shoved it all
the way open. Then, with Lola at my heels, I
went bursting into Dr. Lambert’s front
room—his reception room.
I didn’t see anybody. But I heard
something that stiffened me. It was a low,
feminine moan from the adjoining room. I
hurled myself into that next chamber; and all
of a sudden I felt as if somebody had kicked
me in the guts. I was in Dr. Lambert’s
therapy-room. The place was lined with all
sorts of electrical gadgets. But I didn’t look
at them. I was staring at something just in
front of me—
T WAS A sort of operating table. Over it,
banking it on either side, I saw a double
battery of sunlamps and ultra-violet ray
lights with crackling, blue quartz tubes. The
sun-lights and quartz violet-ray tubes were
all turned on full blast. Under them, strapped
to the operating table, was a writhing nearly
naked feminine figure—
A blonde dame!
She was tied, hand and foot; and wide
straps held her to the table. Her body must
have been damned pretty not so very long
ago. But it wasn’t pretty now. It was a beetred color all over, from neck to ankles; big,
watery blisters were already forming.
She was Honey Holland, the girl whom
Dr. Lambert had threatened to murder! And
she was being slowly cooked to death by
those damned quartz lamps!
Like a flash, I leaped at the lights,
smashed them away. I found the connecting
wires, ripped them out. I heard Lola Lambert
scream horribly, behind me. I whirled on
her. “Shut up, for the love of God!” I
growled. Then I leaned over the blonde
Honey Holland, lifted her head.
She opened her eyes, stared at me
through her hellish agony. I said: “Who did
this to you, Miss Holland?”
“Tim . . . Lambert . . . sent for me to
come here . . .” she gasped. “He grabbed me
. . . as I came in the front door. Strapped me
to the table. Turned the lights on me . . . all
dressed in white . . . all dressed in white . . .
oh, God . . . God . . .” Her eyes closed. She
lost consciousness.
I stared down at her for a single instant. I
knew she was done for. Those damned
lamps had burned her horribly. She might
live a few hours—even a day or so—but she
would never recover. She must have lain
exposed to those hellish artificial sun-rays
for a long time. And those rays are
murderous. An hour under them is
equivalent to several days direct exposure to
strong sunlight. If ever there was a fiendish
way to commit murder, this was it! Honey
Holland must have suffered the tortures of
the damned, lying under those lamps. And
she’d suffer one hell of a lot more before she
kicked the bucket.
She heeded medical attention, and she
needed it quick. I pivoted, brushed past Lola
Lambert, hurled myself into the front room. I
found a phone, snatched at it, dialed the
nearest emergency hospital. “Quick!” I
rasped. “An ambulance—and first-aid
dressings for third-degree burns!” Then I
gave the address and started to hang up.
I never completed the job of putting that
receiver back in its prongs. From behind me,
something smashed down on my cranium. I
saw stars. Then I didn’t see anything at all.
Everything went black. I was out.
HEN I opened my glims, an
ambulance interne was forcing a slug
of rye down my gullet. I looked up and saw
several other guys standing around. One of
them was my pal Dave Donaldson, of the
homicide squad.
I said: “Dave—what the hell—”
“The hospital people phoned me,” Dave
said. “This is a murder case. That Honey
Holland wren is a goner. Won’t live till
morning. She was literally cooked alive. And
what the hell happened to you, Turner?”
I
W
Hollywood Detective 8
“I don’t know,” I told him. Then I
spotted Lola Lambert over in a chair. She
had a bandage around her head. I said:
“Maybe you can tell me, Lola.”
She got to her feet, weakly. “J-just as
you were phoning, I heard a sound,” she
said. “I looked—and saw T-Timothy, m-my
husband, coming into the room. I tried to call
out—and he hit me over the head with
something that looked like a blackjack. I—I
don’t know any more. I woke up to find the
ambulance man binding my head.”
I managed to gain my pins. I was feeling
plenty woozy. I reached out and took that
bottle of rye from the ambulance guy; and I
sucked it dry. The good old alcohol starting
seeping through me, and I commenced to
feel a little better. Also, I began to have an
idea.
I said: “So it was your husband, eh,
Lola?”
She nodded.
Dave Donaldson said: “Sure. It must
have been Lambert. He’s the one who
threatened to kill Honey Holland. And the
Holland wren has made an ante-mortem
statement, accusing him. Just wait till I lay
my mitts on that bird!”
I said: “Well, Dave, I think I can help
you put your hands on the murderer. Come
on—let’s get going.” I started for the
outdoors, grabbed Lola Lambert and pulled
her with me.
Donaldson said: “Where are we
headed?”
“To the residence of Freddie Lerch, the
F-K-V director!” I answered him. “And
we’ve got no time to lose!”
We piled into Donaldson’s official hack.
Donaldson drove—and he didn’t spare the
horsepower, either. He kept his finger on the
siren-button and his brogan on the gas; and
we went places in one hell of a hurry.
Donaldson scraped a lot of tread off his
tires, braking to a stop in front of Freddie
Lerch’s house in Beverly. We all piled out of
the police car, started for the Lerch front
door. On the way, Donaldson said: “Surely
you aren’t going to tell me it was Lerch
who—”
Lola Lambert interrupted him. “Oh,
God!” she moaned. “If it’s only true! If it’s
only Lerch, instead of my Tim! If Tim is
only innocent . . . !”
I shushed both of them. I said: “Keep
quiet and let me do the gabbing.” Then I
pressed Freddie Lerch’s door-bell.
A Filipino house-boy finally opened up
for us. I said: “We want to see Mr. Lerch.
Tell him it’s the cops.”
HE GUGU widened his eyes, turned and
started pelting up the stairs. Pretty soon
Freddie Lerch himself came flapping down,
dressed in pajamas, dressing-gown and
house slippers. He looked sleepy, startled.
He said: “What’s this all about?”
I said: “Mr. Lerch, what were you doing
behind the F-K-V main lot tonight around
ten o’clock?”
He scowled: “I’d been in my office,
going over some papers. I was just leaving to
come home, around ten o’clock. Why?’
I said: “Is it true that you were once in
love with a girl named Honey Holland?”
“Yes—not that it’s any of your damned
business!” he snapped.
“Dr. Timothy Lambert took the Holland
wren away from you, didn’t he?” I persisted.
Lerch flushed angrily; He turned to Lola
Lambert. He said: “Lola, what the hell’s the
idea of this guy asking me so many
questions?”
“P-please answer them, Freddie,” Lola
whispered through dry lips.
Lerch turned back to me. “Okay. Since
you want to know the truth—Yes, Lambert
took Honey Holland away from me. So
what?”
“You hated Lambert for that?” I said.
“And you hated the Holland dame for giving
you the go-by?”
T
Cooked! 9
His jaw jutted. “You can’t pry into my
business that way!” he growled. “To hell
with you.”
I tried another tack. I said: “All right, Mr.
Lerch. We’ll let that drop for a while. Now,
maybe you’ll answer some different
questions. How long have you been with FK-V Pictures?”
“Ten years,” he said surlily.
“Do you happen to know,” I asked him,
“anything about a certain set on the old
outdoor lot behind the present F-K-V studio
layout? I refer to a set representing a
medieval courtyard.”
He said: “Yes. I remember that set. It
was constructed several years ago for a silent
picture which was never completed. The
talkies came in about that time, so the
production was shelved.”
“Could you lead us directly to that castle
courtyard set?” I asked him.
I held my breath until his answer came.
He said: “Sure.” Then I heaved a sigh of
relief. I knew I was coming to the end of my
puzzle.
E WAITED until Lerch got some
duds on. Then we all went out and
piled into Dave Donaldson’s official hack;
started for Culver City lickety-split through
the fog. At last Dave drew up before that old
back lot. Freddie Lerch led us through the
maze of old outdoor silent sets. Finally we
gained that castle courtyard.
Donaldson snapped on his flashlight. I
turned to Freddie Lerch. “You know your
way around here pretty thoroughly, don’t
you?” I asked him.
“Why not? I was to direct the picture that
was to have been made on this set!” he said.
I said: “Okay. Would you mind opening
that castle door?”
“Not at all,” he grunted. He went to the
door, shoved against it. It swung inward
easily, without a sign of sticking.
I said: “Wait!” and leaped toward Lerch.
I grabbed him. “Listen. Tell me. Is this the
only set that looks like a castle courtyard?”
He shook his head. “No. There were two
sets built for the picture—both identical in
every way. One was to be destroyed in a big
mob scene. We had the second one made for
possible re-takes.”
I said: “That’s all I wanted to know!”
and bashed past Lerch, through that property
door. I whipped out my flash, snicked it on. I
almost stumbled over the prone, trussed form
of Dr. Timothy Lambert—exactly where I’d
left him, several hours before.
I whirled, slammed myself back into the
courtyard. I saw somebody running—
“Grab her, Dave!” I yelled, “Grab Lola
Lambert! She’s your murderer!”
Donaldson made a flying tackle, brought
Lola Lambert down in a sprawled heap. He
pinned her with his weight, and she shouted
curses at him.
I said: “Shut up, you she-devil! You’re
the one who killed Honey Holland. You did
it because you were jealous of her. . She’d
taken your husband; and you knew he’d
follow her to London. So you murdered her.
And you tried to plant the crime on your
hubby, so you’d have revenge on him for
ditching you!”
She glared at me.
I said: “You tried to use me for a cat’spaw. You tried to fix things so that I’d give
evidence against your husband. You got me
to kidnap him and bring him to this set, leave
him here. While I was doing that, you
sneaked out of that hotel bedroom, lured
Honey Holland to your husband’s office.
You wore a surgeon’s white gown, cap and
mask. That’s why Honey Holland thought
you were Timothy Lambert. You struck her,
tied her on that operating-table, turned the
sun-lamps on her and left her. You were
back in the hotel room by the time I got
there.”
She choked out a sobbing curse.
I went on: “You had everything timed to
W
Hollywood Detective 10
a hair. When we didn’t find Honey Holland
at the airport, you got me to drive you here
to Culver City; and you led me into this old
lot. But you guided me to the duplicate
castle-courtyard set. That’s why I didn’t find
your husband behind the door. I should have
been suspicious when that other castle door
stuck, instead of opening easily. But I was
fooled for the time being. I really thought
your husband had escaped.”
I paused, lighted a gasper, took a deep
drag. Then, I finished up: “It was you, Lola
Lambert, who bashed me on the head when I
was phoning from your husband’s office for
an ambulance. Later, you lied; said it had
been your husband who’d socked me. If your
plan had worked, you’d have gone
unsuspected. Later, you’d have come here
and released your husband. The cops would
have arrested him; and all his protests
wouldn’t have done him any good. Because
his alibi wouldn’t hold water. My own
testimony would show that he had escaped
from here hours before. Fortunately,” I
concluded, “that sticking castle door gave
me the clue I needed. I realized I’d looked
for Timothy Lambert behind the wrong
door—on a duplicate set. So all I had to do
was check up on the duplicate set with Mr.
Lerch, here. And now you’re all washed up.
If Honey Holland dies, you’ll hang.”
I was right. Honey Holland died. And
they hanged Lola Lambert.

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