Doorway to Death (Prologue Crime)
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On the streets of a big city people smile and the lights are bright. But there is an alley world of darkness, double-dealing and death; in this world you need muscles and brains to take a step—and only the lucky ones live long.
These two worlds meet in Hotel Duarte. Johnny Killain had a fistful of experience with both worlds—and with Hotel Duarte:
The girl in 1109 was a schoolmarm from a small western town; but when she visited the city she left her morals at home, stripped off the drab veneer and became an armful of seething hell.
The “salesman” in 1938 peddled death on the side—until he turned up cold … very cold … on a hook in the hotel icebox.
Johnny had the keys to all the doors—to lust, love, greed … and murder!
shame in front of Johnny?” He reached for her again, but she evaded him and smiled apologetically at Johnny. “I was scared simple when you walked in here, after that last time. God knows he’s not worth much, but I’m used to having him around.” She unplugged the percolator, waited for it to stop its rhythmic thumping, and filled three cups. “When I think of the last time you were here—” “He’s reformed, Rosa.” “Damn right he’s reformed, Jerry said breezily. “Those characters sure made a
our conversation in the morning.” “His nerves were gone, anyway. He’d been sweatin’ out the promotion here, afraid he was going to be bypassed. He’d just got through tellin’ me he wasn’t sleeping good.” “The shylocks had him. He’d borrowed heavily recently.” “Yeah? So he needed money bad? No wonder he wanted the job so bad he could taste it. Say, that reminds me … last night when I left the place to check that thing out for Joe I ran into Hans on the sidewalk waitin’ in a doorway up the
her lips on his cheek. “I’ll be glad when this is all over,” she sighed. “I got a feelin’ we’re close to the payoff window right now.” “It’s getting so I’m afraid to go to work nights. And it’s not much better here when you’re not around, since that man was here the other afternoon.” “That man is in the sneezer, ma. You can scratch him from the entries.” “Yes, and I love the way you and Paul didn’t tell me a word about it when it happened.” “Just savin’ your nerves a bruise. You get shook
night. Last night you needed a little help.” The big man nodded. “I could use some, but I can’t wait. I’ve got a boy upstairs has forgotten more law than most judges ever learn, and he’s given me a couple of angles. I’ve got a chance to make it stick.” “He’ll spit in your eye,” Johnny predicted. “Besides, there’s a better way, Joe.” He grinned into the wary glance behind the desk. “Let’s introduce ‘em to each other over there.” An exhaled breath sounded gustily in the room’s quiet.
Jones’ boys.” Johnny nodded. “Legwork is hell.” “You can print that.” Arthur Jones turned to Tommy at the bar, and Johnny walked down the long room and through the service door in the rear to the kitchen beyond, dark except for a single bulb in the farthest corner where a man in a white uniform nodded over a paperbacked book. “Why don’t you go to bed, Dutch?” “You know I can’t sleep, John.” The voice was slow and dignified, ripe with years. White hair fringed the high chef’s hat, and the