Sample L14 from Frances and Richard Lockridge, Murder Has Its Points. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1961. Pp. 96-101. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,004 words 121 (6.0%) quotes 2 symbolsL14

Used by permission of Richard Lockridge. 0010-1750

Frances and Richard Lockridge, Murder Has Its Points. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1961. Pp. 96-101.

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A man with a sketch pad in hand sat with a large pink woman in a small office at the end of a long , dim corridor and made pencil lines on paper and said , `` Is this more like it , Mrs. MacReady ? ? Or are the eyebrows more like this '' ? ? When he had finished with that , he would go to another part of the hotel and say much the same things to someone else , most probably a busboy . `` Begin to look like him now , would you say ? ? Different about the mouth , huh ? ? More like this , maybe '' ? ?

Men blew dust on objects in a room on the seventeenth floor of the Hotel Dumont and blew it off again , and did the same in a tiny , almost airless room in a tenement in the West Forties . And men also used vacuum cleaners in both rooms , sucking dust up once more .

Men from the Third Detective District , Eighteenth Precinct , had the longest , the most tedious , job . At the Hotel Dumont there had , at the time in issue , been twenty-three overnighters , counting couples as singular . These included , as one , Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Payne , who had checked in a little after noon the day before , and had not checked out together . But Gardner Willings was not included ; ; he had been at the Dumont for almost a week . There was , of course , no special reason to believe that the man or woman they sought had stayed only overnight at the hotel . The twenty-three ( or twenty-two with the Paynes themselves omitted ) provided merely a place to start , and their identification was the barest of starts . With names and addresses listed , verification came next . It would take time ; ; it would , almost inevitably , trouble some water . ( `` I certainly was not at the Dumont last night and my husband couldn't have been . He's in Boston . Of course he's in '' -- )

The Hotel King Arthur across the street provided almost twice as many problems . The King Arthur offered respectable and convenient lodgings to people from the suburbs who wanted to see a show and didn't want -- heaven knew didn't want ! ! -- to lunge anxiously through crowded streets to railroad stations and , at odd hours of night , drive from smaller stations to distant homes , probably through rain or , in November , something worse . The King Arthur was less expensive than the Dumont . The King Arthur had fifty-four overnighters , again counting rooms rather than people .

Check the overnighters out . Failing to find what was wanted , as was most likely , check out other guests , with special -- but not exclusive -- attention to those with rooms on the street . ( Anyone active enough can reach a roof , wherever his room may be . ) And know , while all this went on , that there was no real reason to suppose that the murderer had been a guest in either hotel . It was not even certain the shot had been fired from either hotel . There were other roofs , less convenient but not impossible . It is dull business , detecting , and hard on feet .

There was also the one salient question to ask , and ask widely : Did you notice anything out of the way ? ? Like , for example , a man carrying a twenty-two rifle , probably with a telescopic sight attached ? ?

There was , of course , no hope it really would be that simple . The sniper , whether psychopathic marksman or murderer by intent , would hardly have walked to his vantage point with rifle over shoulder , whistling a marching tune . Anybody carrying anything that might hide a rifle ? ? Long thin suitcase ? ? Or long fat suitcase , for that matter ? ? Shrugs met that , from room clerks , from bellhops . Who measures ? ? But nothing , it appeared , long enough to attract attention . Cases , say , for musical instruments ? ? None noted at the Dumont . Several at the King Arthur . A combo was staying there . And had been for a week . Anything else ? ? Anything at all ? ? Shrugs met that .

( Detective Pearson , Eighteenth Precinct , thought for a time he might be on to something . A refuse bin at the Dumont turned up a florist's box -- a very long box for very long-stemmed flowers . Traces of oil on green tissue ? ? The lab to check . The lab : sorry . No oil .

Anything at all strange ? ?

Well , a man had tried , at the King Arthur , to register with an ocelot . At the Dumont , a guest had come in a collapsible wheel chair . At the King Arthur one guest had had his head heavily bandaged , and another had a bandaged foot and had walked with crutches . There had also been a man who must have had St. Vitus or something , because he kept jerking his head .

As reports dribbled in , William Weigand tossed them into the centrifuge which had become his head . Mullins came in . There was no sign of Mrs. Lauren Payne at her house on Nod Road , Ridgefield , Connecticut . The house was modern , large , on five acres . Must have cost plenty . The State cops would check from time to time ; ; pass word when there was word to pass . Weigand tossed this news into the centrifuge . Sort things out , damn it . Sort out the next move .

Try to forget motive for the moment . Consider opportunity . Only those actually with Payne when he was shot , or who had left the party within not more than five minutes ( make five arbitrary ) positively had none . The Norths ; ; Hathaway , Jerry's publicity director ; ; Livingston Birdwood , producer of Uprising . They had been with Payne when he was shot , could not therefore have shot him from above .

Take Gardner Willings . He had left after the scuffle ; ; had been seen to leave . He would have had ample time to go into a blind somewhere and wait his prey . Consider him seriously , therefore ? ? Intangibles entered , then -- hunches which felt like facts . Willings would ambush , certainly ; ; Willings undoubtedly had . Willings was , presumably , a better than average shot . But -- hunch , now -- Willings would not ambush anything which went on two legs instead of four . Because , if for no other reason , Willings would never for a moment suppose he was not bigger , tougher , than anything else that went on two legs . Ambushes are laid by those who doubt themselves , as any man may against a tiger .

Faith Constable had had to `` go on '' from the party and had , presumably , gone on . To be checked out further . Forget motive ? ? No , motive is a part of fact . Nobody in his right mind punishes a quarter-century-old dereliction . Grudges simply do not keep that well in a sane mind . Faith Constable had accomplished much in a quarter of a century . Jeopardize it now to correct so old a wrong ? ? Bill shook his head . Also , he thought , I doubt if she could hit the side of a barn with a shotgun .

Lauren herself ? ? She had left the party early , pleading a headache . No lack of opportunity , presuming she had a gun . She might , conceivably , have brought one in in a large-enough suitcase . ( Check on the Payne luggage . ) She might now have taken it away again . Motive -- her husband wandering ? ? Bitter , unreasoning jealousy ? ? Heaven knew it happened and hell knew it too . But -- it happened , almost always , among the primitive and , usually , among the very young . ( Call it mentally young ; ; call it retarded . ) There was nothing to indicate that Lauren Payne was primitive . She did not move in primitive circles . She was young , but not that young .

It occurred to Bill Weigand that he was , on a hunch basis , eliminating a good many . He reminded himself that all eliminations were tentative . He also reminded himself that he had an unusual number of possibilities .

The Masons , mother or son , or mother and son ? ? Opportunity was obvious . Motive . Here , too , the cause to hate lay well back in the years . But bitterness had more cause to remain , even increasingly to corrode . With the boy , particularly . The boy had , apparently -- if Mrs. MacReady was right in what she had told Mullins -- only in recent months been forced to give up college , to work as a busboy . Seeing the man he blamed for this made much of -- youth and bitterness and --

Bill picked up the telephone ; ; got Mullins .

`` Send out a pickup on Mrs. Mason and the boy when you've got enough to go on '' , Bill said . `` Right '' ? ?

Mullins would do .

A man named Lars Simon , playwright-director , had expressed a wish that Anthony Payne drop dead . He would say , of course , that he had not really had any such wish ; ; that what he had said was no more than one of those things one does say , lightly , meaning nothing . Which probably would turn out to be true ; ; which he obviously had to be given the opportunity to say .

A man named Blaine Smythe , with `` y '' and `` e '' but pronounced without them , had been fired at Payne's insistence . He was also , if Pam North was right , a closer acquaintance of Lauren Payne's than she , now , was inclined to admit . He might deny the latter ; ; would certainly deny any connection between the two things , or any connection of either with murder . He would have to be given the opportunity .

Mullins ? ? It was evident that Mullins was the man to go . It was evident that a captain should remain at his desk , directing with a firm hand and keeping a firm seat . Bill Weigand was good and tired of the wall opposite , and the crack in the plaster . Let Mullins keep the firm seat ; ; let Stein .

When Siamese cats are intertwined it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and another begins . Stilts and Shadow , on Pam's bed , appeared to be one cat -- rather large , as Siamese cats go , and , to be sure , having two heads and two tails . On the other hand , they , or it , seemed to have no legs whatever . Pamela North said , `` Hi '' , to her cats , and added that proper cats met their humans at the door . Of four dark brown ears , one twitched slightly at this . `` All right '' , Pam said . `` I know it isn't dinnertime '' .

But at this the one too-large cat suddenly became two cats , stretching . Shadow , the more talkative , began at once to talk , her voice piteous . Stilts , a more direct cat , leaped from the bed and trotted briskly toward the kitchen . Shadow looked surprised , wailed , and trotted after her . The hell it isn't dinnertime , two waving tails told Pam North .

It was not , whatever tale was told by tails . Martha presumably would cope . She might be firm . It was most unlikely that she would be firm . They want to be fat cats , Pam thought , and lighted a cigarette and leaned back on a chaise and considered pulling her thoughts together . After a time , it occurred to her that her thoughts were not worth the trouble . A vague feeling that Anthony Payne had had it coming was hardly a thought and was , in any event , reprehensible . Had Faith Constable's explanation of her confidence , so uninvited , been a little thin ? ? That was more like a thought , but not a great deal more . Had that tall dark boy , carrying trays too heavy for him , found what he might have considered adulation of a man he probably hated more than he could bear ? ? And possessed himself -- how ? ? -- of a rifle and killed ? ? Pam found she had no answers ; ; had only a hope . The poor kid -- the poor , frail kid . Some people have luck and some have no luck and that , whatever people who prefer order say , is the size of it . The poor , unlucky --

The telephone rang . Pam realized , to her surprise , that she had been almost dozing . At four o'clock in the afternoon . Two martinis for lunch -- that was the trouble . I ought to remember . Don't pretend . You do remember . You just -- `` Hello ? ? Yes , this is she ? ? What '' ? ?

The voice had music in it . Even with words coming too fast , they came on the music of the voice .

`` I said I would '' , Pam said . `` They won't talk about who gave the information . Not unless they have to . They don't , Mrs. Constable . Not unless they have '' --

She was interrupted .

`` Call this a cry for help '' , Faith Constable said .