Monday, July 3, 2023

Death Ends the Scene

“Death Ends the Scene” is a 1948 Dan Turner Hollywood Detective mystery novella originally from Hollywood Detective Magazine that is available today as part of the compilation, Homicide Hunch from The Pulp Fiction Book Store.

The setup for this one is really cool. A letter is delivered to Private Eye Dan Turner containing $500 cash and some very specific instructions. The client is about to kill himself, and he wants Turner to come to the suicide scene, take the gun and stash it - creating the misimpression that the death was a murder. This will allow the client’s widow to enjoy a double-indemnity clause in the insurance policy, whereas a suicide would pay out nothing.

The scheming suicider is a famous director who had fallen out of favor with the industry and hit the skids. On his way to the bottom, the director married a gold-digging bitch who stands to benefit from his double-indemnity scam. Can Turner get to him before he offs himself? Is there money to be made here without getting sideways with an insurance company?

Turner immediately learns that this unusual client is in serious debt to a gambling racketeer named Benny the Greaseball (subtle touch, Mr. Bellem). The mystery unfolds delightfully from there with plenty of hardboiled patter and outstanding fight scenes.

These Dan Turner stories are cheap and plentiful — they are also a ton of fun to read. “Death Ends the Scene” is no exception. This novella is such a compelling joy. It’s literary candy, but you won’t regret the couple hours you spend devouring this story. 

Buy your illustrated copy of the book, which includes this story, HERE.

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