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Death Points a Finger   By: (1881-)

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Death Points A Finger

by Will Levinrew

Published by the Mystery League, New York and London.


Other books by Will Levinrew (William Levine) are Poison Plague (1929), Murder on the Palisades (1930), Murder from the Grave (1930), and For Sale Murder (1932)

Chapter I

The tempo was increasing to its highest pitch for the day. That highly complicated organism, a daily newspaper, which is apparently conceived in the wildest disorder, was about to "go to bed." Twenty typewriters were hammering out their finishing touches and concluding paragraphs to new stories. New leads were being written to old stories.

News machines, telegraph machines, two tickers were adding their quota to the infernal din. Male and female voices were punctuating the grimy air with yells of "copy boy". The men at the horseshoe shaped copy desk were echoing the cry. Boys rushed up to some of the typewriters, and, almost before the type bars ceased their clicking on the last words of a sentence, snatched out the sheet of copy paper from the machine.

The floor, tables, desks, chairs presented an appearance that would have made the owner of a respectable junk shop blush. Discarded copy paper and newspapers, cigarette stubs, burnt matches, strewed the floors. Coats and hats dumped anywhere, littered the desks and battered chairs.

As an obligato to the din, there came from deep in the bowels of the building the rumbling of the huge presses that were throwing out the papers of an earlier edition; a rumble that was felt as well as heard.

Suddenly, as if by magic, the din ceased; "dead line" had been reached. One lone typewriter came to a chattering halt. Men and women rose from their machines, where they had been sitting tense. Cigarettes were lit; the workers relaxed. There began a subdued chatter. Chaff and banter were exchanged, freely, good humoredly.

Only the visible evidence of a former disorder remained. The room was still untidy and grimy. Papers in unbelievable profusion heaped the floors and desks. The rumble in the basement ceased. In a few moments it began again. It was running off the final edition.

James Hale, star reporter on the New York Eagle, who had a few minutes ago been the personification of dynamic activity, was now trying to get a rise out of Marie LaBelle, editor of the Heart Balm column.

Marie was sitting slumped in the chair in front of the typewriter, trying to ignore his jibes. At the side of Marie's desk were the literary effusions from love sick males and females that were the daily grist of "her" department.

Marie glowered at Jimmy, perspiring profusely over Jimmy's witticisms. On the night before, there had been a crap game in which Pop Fosdick, head of the Eagle morgue, had participated. Pop had been a cub when Greeley, Bennett and Dana had been names to conjure with in the newspaper field. Pop still lived in his youth. He had an encyclopedic memory for names, places and dates, which made him so valuable in the morgue.

When a reporter was too lazy to look up some needed information himself, he would ask Pop. Pop would glower, growl, swear and to hear him was a treat and get the necessary data. On the night before, in the crap game, Pop had cleaned up the entire gang and broken up the game.

Marie LaBelle was cursing fluently the luck that on that occasion had seemed to run all in one direction with Pop Fosdick. Marie hitched up the left half of his suspenders and began his old plaint:

"Think of that old geezer, old enough to "

"Oh, I don't know," broke in one of the listeners. "It doesn't take much to see sevens , and elevens. Even Pop "

"I don't mean that," lied Marie. "I wasn't thinking of his luck last night. I was thinking of the remarkable manner in which a man of his age conducts that morgue. It isn't just memory either. He seems to have an uncanny intelligence about "

"A man of his age," scoffed Jimmy... Continue reading book >>

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