Charles G. Booth. Those Seven Alibis (1932) 290 pp.
Dr. Martinez has dug up an ancient Greek marble head with an angelic face, but a demonic smile. Sebastien Durand, a San Francisco antiques dealer with a shop near Union Square, has used his contacts and money to get the head out of Greece and into the country as if it were a modern piece. The head is worth hundreds of thousands of 1932 dollars to a collector willing to overlook clear title. Dr. Martinez and M. Durand end up in bitter litigation when Mr. Durand claims 100% ownership of the head. Complicating the ownership battle are a romance between M. Durand’s granddaughter Sally and Dr. Martinez’ son Ted, two other San Francisco collectors who are scheming to acquire the head, the intrigues of Quon Lee, a Chinese gift shop merchant intensely loyal to M. Durand, and Lee’s wife Yu Hong, who is a modern woman with a yen for adventure. On the day the court decides in favor of Dr. Martinez, M. Durand is found shot to death in his office, which shows the signs of a duel between the dead man and Dr. Martinez. The original head has vanished and has been replaced with a clever, but obvious, copy. Everyone has a seemingly unshakeable alibi for the time of death. Ted is convinced his father could not have been the culprit and enlists Sally in an effort to prove Quon Lee is hiding his complicity with M. Durand in a suicide designed to implicate Dr. Martinez. Police Inspector O’Todd is focusing his suspicion on Dr. Martinez, given his view that the simplest solution is the most likely. Sally, Ted, and Inspector O’Todd have to begin unraveling the alibis to find the truth before anyone else falls victim—and before the family feud drives a wedge between the young lovers.
Setting: San Francisco
Baird & Greenwood 295