The time is 1926, the heart of the Roaring '20s and what is known as the Flapper Era. The case: A missing persons caper involving a young woman by the name of Alice Prado.
As soon as Mrs. Lucille Prado came into my office, I figured she had lost her way, that happens a lot in Tin Pan Alley; but when she started to tell her story, about her missing daughter, I paid a little attention, more so when she showed me a photo of Alice, quite a looker. There was something about Mrs. Prado that struck me as honest and earthy, and I told her I'd take her case--but not to expect a lot of success. Grateful for at least that much, she gave me a buck retainer, and I went to work.
Q) Carney, what makes your case so special?
Little did I know that I would run into quite a bunch of characters, many of them from the ranks of high society. I counted on some help from my inside source, Lt. Phil Spillman with the police department, and my friend, Bruno Kowalewski with the city morgue. In addition, I get the lowdown from another friend of mine, Woody Byrd, an ex-musician who combs the streets of the Bowery; and then there's Pops Dempsey, who owns Dempsey's Boxing Gym and who's always good for an odds-on bet.
I started with Alice's recent address, where I found her roommate, aspiring actress/dancer Sally Blair. She told me Alice now went by the name of Arabella Germaine, a real party girl who enjoyed pearls, fancy champagne and even fancier guys. She had been seen in the company of playboy Robert Landon and his group of spoiled, rich kids, including his sister, Regan. Their friends came with the cutesy names of Muffy, Frenchie, Tippy, Hoochie and Spiffy. Plus, I had a lead on some art gallery owner, a fancy pants guy by the name of Victor Cathcourt. Sure, he knew Arabella all right. In fact, she had been his muse in more ways than one.
As I went along, I found a lot of inconsistencies in their stories, plus the kicker: no one had seen Arabella since the weekend--at least not until she showed up in the morgue. Now, as I looked down on that beautiful, pink angel--the girl who had been the life of the party--I knew I had to start earning that buck.
Q) Has this case affected your personal life?
You bet! I guess you could say I fell in love with Arabella, at least the image of her that I had formed in my mind. The high society kids called her "Angel" and I couldn't agree more with that appellation. She was an angel, an ethereal creature, and us mere mortals had been given only a brief glimpse of such beauty and grace.
If that's not a hoot, Sally Blair, the aspiring actress/hoofer, keeps casting goo goo eyes my way, and my friend, Maeve Dempsey, wants to set me up with a friend of hers from the phone company, Harriet Mumson.
Q) What made this case hard to solve?
Well, for one, everyone had an alibi, a lot of slick alibis by my count. The rich sure think they can get away with even such a paltry excuse as murder; but I persevered, if not for Arabella, then for her parents who needed to know why their daughter had been left for dead on a grimy city street. In the process, I almost got myself killed by a mobster named Slim Jim Morelli and his gang. So, I just have to sort all the clues while I share a drink with my friend Phil at Jerry's Gin Joint, a real cat's meow speakeasy.
Q) What have you learned from the case?
Well, for one, women are sure strange creatures. One minute I think I can trust them, and the next--well, I prefer not to say. Although, I can tell you this: I finally got over my infatuation with the dead Arabella, and now I'm focused on Harriet Mumson who sent me violets while I was laid up in the hospital after a tangle with a couple of tough guys. Harriet, or as I like to call her Pixie, just got under my skin for some reason--and who knows? Maybe we'll tie the knot someday...
Carney's story can be found in:
Death of a Flapper (Death by the Decade Series) by Marva Dale and published by Oak Tree Press
now available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
For more information, go to Oak Tree Press or Ms. Dale's website at merrellspassion.info