Erle Stanley Gardner. Murder Up My Sleeve (1937) 290 pp.
In San Francisco’s Chinatown, Jacob Mandra, a notorious bail-bond broker
and ladies’ man, has been killed by a steel-tipped dart from a Chinese
sleeve gun. The District Attorney pulls Terry Clane in for questioning.
Clane, formerly a lawyer and currently a “mysterious adventurer,” has recently
returned from an extended stay in China where he studied at a Chinese monastery
and collected a large number of Chinese curios, including a sleeve gun.
The police start rounding up all of Clane’s acquaintances in an attempt
to learn more about him. During the course of their investigation, they
discover that Clane’s sleeve gun is missing. In order to keep himself and
his friends out of jail, Clane begins an investigation of his own. He discovers
a blackmail racket—engineered by Mandra—where innocent people are framed
for hit-and-run drunk driving accidents. He also discovers Mandra’s secret
widow, Juanita, an exotic dancer who has grown very tired of his infidelities.