Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry. The Million-Dollar Suitcase (1922) 326 pp.
The directors of the Van Ness Avenue Savings Bank in San Francisco call in Jeremiah “Jerry” Boyne, head of the Bankers’ Security Agency, to investigate a mysterious theft. One of the bank’s tellers, Edward Clayte, simply walked out of the bank at the end of the day carrying a suitcase filled with nearly a million dollars in cash. Boyne’s agency was called immediately, but even though they were less than an hour behind Clayte (who, despite having worked at the bank for several years, no one can accurately—or adequately—describe), he seems to have vanished into thin air. In order to stave off the investor panic that would surely ensue when the bank was forced to announce the theft, Worth Gilbert, a young man recently returned from the war in France—and a major stockholder in the bank—offers to purchase the missing suitcase for $800 thousand. As the investigation gets under way, Worth and Jerry meet a young woman named Barbara Wallace, who had been a childhood acquaintance of Worth’s. She also has an overdeveloped ability to focus her concentration and deduce things that others are unable to see, making her an excellent detective. She quickly solves the riddle of Clayte’s “disappearance” and the trio soon locates the suitcase—empty, of course. Then Worth receives word that his father has killed himself at his home in Santa Ysobel (in Santa Clara County) and, as Boyne’s agents continue to track Clayte, Worth, Jerry, and Barbara go to investigate the death, and soon realize that he has been murdered. When Worth, who had argued with his father on the night of his death, is arrested, Jerry will need all of his detective skills and Barbara all of her powers of concentration to deduce the killer and uncover the secret of Clayte’s real identity.
Setting: San Francisco; “Santa Ysobel” (Santa Clara County)
Baird & Greenwood 1617