The Mysterious Bookshop

Lieutenant Jones in 'Politics is a Dirty Business.'


In the prison cell, Chief Gates was trying to find a starting point to refute Abercrombie’s murder charge.

‘Listen, Al, can’t you think of anything that might help?  ‘Cause I’ve--’

‘Wait! That man!’

‘What man?’

‘The man who knocked me over before I got here!  He must have planted the glove on me!’

Chief Gates sighed.  ‘Well, that’s the first time I’ve heard that one.  Today.’

‘He said his name was Smith.’

‘Nice. Want to try Jones or Brown?’

‘Well, that’s what he said!’

‘I don’t doubt that’s what he said!  It’s just that I’d be more likely to believe him if he said his name was Wellington, or something.’

‘But Chief--’

‘Wait. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that someone did plant that glove. What about the servant who saw you leaving the house?’

‘Oh, you know a lot of people would lie to smear me--’

‘Al, this will go a lot easier if you level with me.  How about it?’

A long pause.  Then, softly, ‘You win.’

‘I’m not trying to ‘win,’ as you put it, I just want the truth.’

Another long pause, and a sigh. What an actor this man would have made, had he not gone into politics!

‘I knew her. But I didn’t kill her, and I didn’t have any so-called love children!’

‘Were you having an affair with Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot?’

‘I was not!  Frankly, we were simply trying to get her husband to help us raise funds.

‘Why didn’t you just ask him to contribute?’

‘We thought he’d be more likely to do so if she asked him, and we were trying to find the best way to help him minimize his tax bite which is the only way he’d consider it.’

‘Al, that’s pretty thin.  The butler at the Worthington-Proudfoot home is definite--he says he saw you leave there the night of the murder.  Still,there is one thing--the coroner is firm that Mrs. Worthington-Proudfoot never had any children, so the love child thing is out.’

‘That’s a relief.  But a murder charge!’

‘I’ve got to hold you here until more evidence comes to light.’

‘I know it.  Can I make a phone call?  I’m entitled to one, you know.’

‘In a while. Let’s go over it again.’


Bennett was on the phone.  ‘It’s all set, chief. I know, the love child angle is out, but he’s still up on a murder charge!  It couldn’t be better for us, especially once the Pavonia thing gets around!’

Bennett hung up the phone and chuckled as he regarded the stories on the front page of that day’s Tribune:

Abercrombie Denies Murder of Society Matron

Probe link between Abercrombie and Pavonian Dictatorship

Monk Up In Polls


Lieutenant Jones was in a quandary.  Ordinarily his status as a time-and-space travelling troubleshooter precluded his involvement in local affairs, but could he in good conscience stand by and do nothing while he had inside knowledge of the whole dirty business? But what cared he who won the national election?  But he must have been brought here for a reason.  So, it was incumbent upon him to insure a free and fair vote, to the extent that it was possible for him to do so.


‘And so, as my opponent’s ties to the Pavonian Communists become ever clearer, I say to you, that as your President, I will not hesitate to use American might to rid the world of this totalitarian regime and bring democracy to the people of Pavonia!’

The crowd cheered Monk almost reflexively, a Pavlovian reaction to the words ‘totalitarian,’ ‘democracy, ‘American might,’ and ‘Communists.’

Backstage, Monk and Bennett were congratulating each other on a well-received appearance.  The campaign was going well, not just to promote Monk but to smear Abercrombie.  Until Lieutenant Jones strolled through the door.  Bennett leapt to his feet and cried, ‘How did you get in here?  Where is security?’ and Monk added, ‘This is a private meeting room! Get out!’  

Whereupon the Lieutenant produced a leatherette case and flashed a badge right into the eyes of the two men.  Both quaked in their shoes, shaken, and shrank back into their seats.  Then Monk spoke.  ‘All right, you’ve got the goods.  What do you want?’

‘I notice from today’s paper that you are accusing Mr. Abercrombie of ties to the current Pavonian government.’

‘My opponent is indeed cozy with the Pavonian dictatorship. Say, you seem like a smart boy.  I  could always use another sharp knife on my side--what about it?’

Lt. Jones ignored this.  ‘May I see the proof of your accusations?’

‘No you may not!  What is this?’ shouted Bennett.

‘In fact there is none, is there? It is you that have conducted secret meetings with elements within that country’s government.’


‘Do you deny that your company, Amalgamated Puppy, has an office in the capital city of Garvey?’

‘So what? I’m a businessman, pally.’

‘In defiance of the embargo?’

‘I’m not responsible for the anti-business policies of the administration!’

‘But you ARE responsible for obeying the law and I’ll see to it that your license to do business overseas is revoked if you persist in this behavior. Good day, gentlemen.’  And the Lieutenant turned on his heel and left.

Monk and Bennett looked at one another, then Monk hissed one word:



Can the Lieutenant thwart this nefarious scheme?  Should he even try? And what of Abercrombie, sitting in jail?  Can the people of Pavonia overcome?  Where do the Worthington-Proudfoots come in?

Some of these questions might even be answered in the next installment of our election special!  Don’t miss it--even if you can!


While we’re waiting for Thursday’s post, check out some of these tales of mystery and intrigue that involve dictatorships:


Just as Castro is about to topple the Batista dictatorship, NYPD cop Michael Cassidy delivers an accused murderer to Havana, and halts the execution of a KGB agent and his lover.  Then things get complicated.

Is political freedom compatible with unbridled personal ambition?  In the time of Caesar, Cicero attempts to answer the question even as endless, corrosive wars erode the foundation of the state.


Intrepid insurance investigator Milo March is in South America tracking down a rare manuscript.  A venal dictator, a prospective inheritor, and the 'gallows garden' itself complicate the picture.


Questions/Comments/Political Asylum?

Written by Ian Kern — August 11, 2016


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