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The Conundrum of the Decapitated Detective (ebook)
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The corpse in the morgue had been beheaded, the hands severed and the bottoms of the feet scorched, making identification next to impossible. The man's identity hinges on personal belongings found near the body, and the formality of having his two best friends view the remains and agree with the name on the driving license. Failure to do so would consign the mangled body to a nameless grave; begrudging a positive I.D. would be admitting the detective was really dead.
Neither option is acceptable. Not to Hugh Kerr, the criminal lawyer who had risen to fame on his Harvard education, his cunning and his almost magical reputation of pulling rabbits out of hats to save his clients from almost certain conviction. And not to Ellen Thorne, Kerr's private secretary and confidant. The two, having worked as a team in Los Angeles during the first half of the 1950s, reject both options. Rather than accept the obvious, they agree to cling to the belief their friend is alive, to discover his whereabouts, track down the perpetrator who had taken such pains to make it appear the detective had died a horrible death, and to properly identify the victim in the morgue.
Unravelling a series of clues that ultimately gives them the name of a man who had sworn revenge on what was familiarly known as the "Kerr Gang," Hugh and Ellen discover the locale where the man in the morgue had been brutally murdered. At the same time realizing they had been cleverly set up to take the fall for the murder, they track their nemesis to his hideaway. With some ingenuity and more good fortune they find their kidnapped friend barely alive and help him escape.
Fearful their enemy's men have infiltrated the police department, they are unable to ask the authorities for help and go on the "lam" in an attempt to hide from both the long arm of the law and their adversary's grasp. Along this journey Kerr must also come to grips with his growing affection for Ellen and the realization that the justice he has dedicated his life to upholding has suddenly turned against him. Confused and embittered, it is only after he resolves the first problem that he is able to put his mind on the second.
Finally constructing a plan he hopes will prove their innocence, the Gang returns to Los Angeles. In a tragic turn of events, an agent from the detective agency is cruelly murdered trying to help them. Left without further options, and confident in the law, they turn themselves in. After enduring exceptionally insensitive interrogations by professional associates they supposed to be friends, the three are reunited in a hunt that ultimately culminates in the elusive justice Kerr sought, but with dire and unexpected consequences.