THE MILLION DOLLAR SUITCASE by Alice MacGowan & Perry Newberry

MillionA nifty mystery from 1922.  I love reading books written during that time.  Gives you a bit of a window into the era.  You get to see just what politically incorrect looks like.  For instance, in this book, which is set in the San Francisco area,  there are a couple of wealthy families who have Chinese men as housemen, cooks, butlers.  They are constantly referred to by everyone as ‘the chink’  or ‘the Chinaman’.   [Rolling eyes].

Anyway, the basic story is told from the first-person view of a private detective who does a lot of work for a bank.  The bank directors come to him to report that one of their tellers, a nondescript kind of man about whom nobody can agree on a physical description, who had worked for the bank for 4 years, walked out at the end of the business day with a suitcase filled with a million buckeroos.

The son of one of the directors who had given up his activity with the bank, sat in on the meeting as they all decided on how to handle the investigation.  It was trying economic times and the directors didn’t want the police involved with all the adverse publicity that would bring — could result in a run on the bank.

The son, a war vet (WWI) proclaimed he would buy the suitcase for something like $800,000.  When he reclaimed it, the difference would be his.  He happened to be a friend of the detective, and after the meeting, in which the directors agreed to his proposal, told him that he didn’t need the money, he really wanted something exciting to do, the chase after the thief.

The  investigation immediately becomes much more involved than it had appeared from the onset, and the reader is led a merry chase among the throng of possibilities.  It gets even dicier when the father of the young man commits suicide.  And then it is determined that it was not suicide, but…. gasp! ….. murder.   The plot thickens!

Just a fun read.  And almost a hundred years old.

Oh, by the way, it’s free on Project Gutenberg.  You can grab it  here.

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