The Fifth Grave
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Hard-living private detective Karl Craven didn’t ask for trouble when he arrived in Paulton, Missouri—but trouble found him anyway. First it was his partner, Oke Johnson, shot in the head by a silenced rifle. Then it was the femme fatale Ginger Bolton, who took him for a wild ride his first night in town. But it’s Penelope Grayson—the sultry blonde whose uncle hired Craven to shake her loose from a local cult—who takes the prize.
Penelope calls herself a Daughter of Solomon, a member of a group mixed up in everything from viticulture to gambling and prostitution. As Craven gets closer to the cult, he realizes that it isn’t the town’s only danger. To solve the case of Oke’s murder and free Penelope from the grasp of Solomon, Craven must also tangle with a crooked police chief, a treacherous lawyer, and a ruthless gangster—all primed to bring him down unless he can outwit them first.
office. I must have looked wild. They stared at me. “Come on,” I yelled at them. “We’ve got to get out.” I grabbed Ginger’s hand and we ran for the screened porch. They followed. I never saw Gus Papas or the bartender. Just as we reached the porch the car hit the front door with a crash. There was a burst of flames, a hot wind, and an explosion that knocked us to the floor. I lost Ginger’s hand. For a second I lay flat listening to the crackle of flames. I knew I had to get up, but I couldn’t.
before. I took a drag on the cigarette. “What the hell’s the matter with you, pal?” Pug asked. “Nothing.” “You must be tired of living,” Pug said. “Why?” “You heard me last night, didn’t you?” “I didn’t think you meant it.” “Get a load of that!” Pug laughed. “Pal says he didn’t think I meant it.” He put his face near mine, trying to see me. “Didn’t you think I meant those punches?” “Were those punches?” There was a moment when I could hear the sound of the engine and the rush of air.
chair. “What’s this?” I said. The clerk turned to me. “Oh, Mr. Craven.” He giggled. “The awfullest thing. I thought I heard shots down here.” “We didn’t hear ’em,” I said, looking at the Finn. “I guess he’s been making too much noise.” The Finn pounded in a nail. The clerk giggled. The policeman snorted and said: “And me eating my lunch.” They went out. I slid off the table and went into the steam room. I had been scared to death he was going to come to while the cop was around, but I
agreed that we wouldn’t do that?” “Well, nothing else seemed to do any good.” “That’s true. Quite true.” He looked down at his hands. “It is too bad.” “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t believe you follow me, Craven. It is too bad it will be necessary for you to leave town.” “Me leave town? Don’t make my laugh.” “I am not trying to be funny, Craven. You say you did not steal the money. I believe you.” “That’s white of you.” He went right along. “But the Brothers do not. They are very
What I’d been hired for, though, was to get Penelope Grayson out. The telegram had reminded me of that. Just thinking about her gave me a sick-empty feeling in my belly. Those damned graves! And that kid Tabitha! And this was the night of the Ceremony of the Bride. I thought again, what a phony idea; the Ceremony of the Bride. But there was nothing phony about those graves. I thought, if only there was an honest D.A. in the county. I wondered why I was so worried. I thought at heart I must be a