Sample L07 from Genevieve Holden, Deadlier Than the Male. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 96-104. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,019 words 688 (34.1%) quotesL07

Copyright1961 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Genevieve Holden, Deadlier Than the Male. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 96-104.

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He put in a call to Cunningham from his hotel room . The maid answered and he decided Nancy must be at work .

Jeb cautioned him not to be too hopeful and then , ignoring his own advice , said excitedly , `` But it does sound good . A woman named Lisa who tells nobody anything about herself . That courtyard picture with the same initials '' .

`` I'm not exactly jumping up and down with enthusiasm . I'll call you in a day or so '' .

On the highway he relaxed and enjoyed the drive over Lake Pontchartrain and along the coast .

Gulf Springs was ten miles inland -- more of a quaint old coast town than those along the beach made garish by tourist attractions .

He checked into a motel and drove downtown . The courthouse was a white-stucco building minus the customary dome . Instead of the usual straggling privet hedges and patches of bare dirt in most small-town squares , the building was hemmed in by a semitropical growth of camellias and azaleas and a smooth lawn the improbably bright-green shade of florist's grass .

He figured his best bet was a call on the sheriff . A clerk in the outer office took him in to Sheriff Carruthers , a big , paunchy man with thick , white hair and a voice with a senatorial resonance which suggested he should be running for higher office .

Seated in front of the desk , Hank said , `` I'm looking for some information with very little to go on , Sheriff '' .

He explained the background of the case , ending with the tenuous clue which had brought him to Gulf Springs .

The sheriff's swivel chair tilted back . `` So you're looking for a woman who married a man who might have lived here a year ago and might have been poisoned . If there was such a person , I'm afraid she got away with it . Pity we don't know more about him . I think the best bet is to go through the society columns of last year and see if any of the grooms match with the obituaries a little later . It'll be a tedious job , but if you want to try it , the old newspaper files are in the basement here in the county supervisor's office '' .

`` Maybe the society editor would remember a good-looking out-of-town bride '' .

`` That's an idea . Mrs. Calhoun has been society editor here for twenty-five years . The editor says that marriages may be made in heaven , but weddings are made in Mrs. Calhoun's columns . She's the one who decides which wedding is to get the lead space in the Sunday paper and all that '' . He smiled . `` Once , when the editor was just out of the hospital from a gallstone operation , Mrs. Calhoun and the mother of the bride went out to his house and fought it out beside his bed . She'd be sure to remember any bride who was vague about background . She'd have made a great scientist dedicated to tracking down heredity and environment . She'd also remember if the groom died later '' . He stood up . `` I wish you good luck , but please don't dig up too tough a case for me this close to election . If you find out anything , come on back here and we'll get started on it '' .

Tracking down Mrs. Calhoun was like trying to catch up with Paul Revere between Lexington and Concord . It turned out that she also sold real estate , cosmetics , and hospital insurance . The wearying trek stretched into the afternoon -- from newspaper plant to insurance office to her house and back to the newspaper , where he found her at five o'clock .

She was a large woman with a frizzled gray poodle cut and a pencil clamped like a bit between her teeth while she hunted and pecked on an old typewriter . It took a couple of minutes to run through her various businesses and get down to the one he wanted .

`` Last year ? ? Well , I do remember one . From Baton Rouge . Married a man named Vincent Black . I remember her because she didn't want her picture in the paper . First bride like that I've seen in twenty-five years '' .

`` What reason did she give '' ? ?

`` Said she had a breaking-out on her face -- some sort of allergy -- and none of her old pictures was good enough . I didn't see her till several days later at the wedding , and her face looked like it had never had a blemish on it . But , of course , you couldn't see too well through the veil '' .

`` Was her name Lisa Carmody '' ? ?

`` Now how in hell would I remember that '' ? ?

`` Never mind . I can look it up . Do they still live here '' ? ?

`` I think they moved away shortly after they were married . He was a salesman for something or other and must have been transferred . I'm sure it'll be in the files . We usually run a social note when somebody moves away '' .

He stood up and thanked her .

`` Have they inherited some money or something '' ? ? She asked with a reportorial gleam in her eye .

He said vaguely , `` Well , it is a little legal matter , but nothing like that '' .

He hurried across to the courthouse and caught the sheriff just as he was leaving .

`` Sounds like what you're after '' , he said when Hank had finished . `` Come on , let's hurry down before they lock up for the day '' .

In the basement the sheriff took him to a small , dingy office occupied by a tall , thin man informal in rolled-up shirt sleeves .

`` Mr. Ferrell Hirey Lindsay , chairman of the board of supervisors . Mr. Ferrell is a private detective , Hirey . Wants to look up something in the newspaper files , so don't lock him in here '' .

`` Sure '' , said Hirey . `` I'll just leave the door open . It latches when you close it , so stay as long as you like '' .

Carruthers crossed the room to a metal door with an open grillework in the top half . He pulled it open . `` Now don't shut this door . It won't open from inside . Before we built the new jail , we used to keep prisoners in here overnight sometimes when the old jail got too crowded . Hirey treats himself a lot better than we do prisoners . They were a sight more comfortable than the ones in the jail with the cold air from Hirey's air conditioner coming through the grille '' .

He walked past the sheriff into a windowless room with shelves full of big , leather-bound volumes from floor to ceiling all around the walls . A metal table and four chairs stood in the center .

`` They're all here , back to 1865 '' , Carruthers told him . `` It's all right to smoke , but make sure your cigarettes are out before you leave . And , of course , you know not to take clippings '' .

`` I'll leave the air conditioner on for you , Mr. Ferrell '' , said Hirey . `` Don't forget to turn it off and close the door good so it'll latch '' .

Hank thanked them and promised to observe the rules . When they had gone , he stood for a minute breathing in the mustiness of old paper and leather which the busily thrumming air conditioner couldn't quite dispel .

Chapter fourteen In a tour around the stacks , he found that the earliest volumes began on the left and progressed clockwise around the room . An old weakness for burrowing in records rose up to tempt him .

It was , indeed , all here -- almost a century . From reconstruction to moon rockets . But he pulled away from the irrelevant old volumes and walked around to the newer ones .

Last year's volume was at the top a couple of inches below the ceiling . Near it was a metal ladder on casters attached to the top shelf . He pulled it over , climbed up , and lifted out the big volume , almost losing his balance from the weight of it . He staggered over and dropped it on the table .

Since Mrs. Calhoun remembered only that the marriage had been in the spring , he started to plod through several months . He tried to turn right to the society page in each one , but interesting stories kept cropping up to distract him . At last he found it in the paper of April 2 .

It told him little more than Mrs. Calhoun had remembered , stating that it had been a small , modest wedding compared to some of the others .

There was a marked contrast in the amount of information on bride and groom . Mr. Black's life was an open book , so to speak , from his birth in Jackson , Mississippi , through his basketball-playing days at L.S.U. and his attainment of a B.A. degree , which had presumably prepared him for his career as district sales manager for Peerless Business Machines .

The one line on the bride said she was Miss Lisa Carmody from Baton Rouge . No mention of New Orleans .

Hank was beginning to feel sharp concern for Mr. Black . If Mrs. Black was who he thought she was , Mr. Black's Peerless selling days might well be over .

Now for their exodus from Gulf Springs . This time the search took twice as long , cutting down on his extra reading , for he had to pick through several columns of one- and two-line social notes in each issue . He found it in the edition of May 15 . The item said Mr. and Mrs. Black had moved to Jackson , his home town -- so the lovely Lisa had been with him a year ago .

Next on his program was a call to the Jackson office of Peerless Business Machines to find out if Vincent Black was still with them -- or , more specifically , still with us .

He glanced at his watch , saw it was only seven , and decided to indulge his weakness now . For the next hour he scrambled happily up and down the ladder , sharing the excitement of reporters who had seen McKinley's assassination , the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago , and the Hall-Mills trial .

In the middle of the stock market crash , he heard a slight noise in the outer office . He turned around , saw nothing , and decided it must be a mouse . Something else distracted him , yet there was no sound , only tomblike silence . Then he knew it was not sound , but lack of it . The air conditioner was no longer running .

He jumped up and turned around to see the metal door closing . It clanged shut as he sprang toward it .

He pressed his face against the grille . `` Who's there '' ? ?

The light shining through the grille dimly illumined the office beyond -- enough for him to see there was no one there . Then he heard the outer door closing .

`` Hey , come back '' , he shouted . He thought it must be some damn janitor or cleaning woman puttering around , figuring that Hirey had gone off and forgotten to turn off everything and lock up .

Then the faint beginnings of fear stirred in his mind . Unless he was stone-blind , the person who'd just left couldn't have missed seeing Hank through the open door of the brightly lighted room . And even if he'd somehow missed seeing him , he wouldn't have gone off and left the light on and door open in the file room .

Whoever it was had meant to shut him up in here , had followed him and waited till the courthouse and square were deserted . But why ? ? To search his room at the motel ? ? To come back later and kill him after the stores had closed around the square and everybody had left ? ? No , they could kill him just as easy right now . Nobody could hear what was going on in this underground vault .

Then he heard it and smelled it -- the steady hissing , the dread , familiar pungency of gas escaping . It must be coming from an upright heater against the far wall in the supervisors' office .

Until now , Lilac Gaylor and Lila Kingsley had been like an anagram which he could unscramble at his own pace and choosing .

Except for those minutes in her room , he had lost touch with her as a reality . Gaylor's obsession and Cunningham's chimera-chasing reminiscences had mesmerized him into thinking of Lila and Lilac , separately or together , as a legend . They kept drifting apart and merging again in his mind like some minute form of life on a microscope slide .