A Small Down Payment by Stephen Wasylyk
Theme for the Week: Authors from the pages of AHMM
Source: Alfred Hitchcock’s Tales to Make You Quake & Quiver
Story Number: 86
In the anthology AHMM Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense, the editor Linda Landrigan mentions that when readers were asked to suggest stories by their favorite authors for the fifty years anniversary anthology, many of them replied back saying ‘any story by Stephen Wasylyk’.
Lazarus Neap gets a new deputy in Arbosh and nothing seems to work for Neap from that point on. A simple burglary arrest goes haywire, a girl found strangled in her apartment turns up no lead whatsoever. The next day, another girl is found strangled and Neap finds the girl’s house and its artifacts looking exactly similar to the house where the first girl was found strangled. The certain clue in both the houses turn out to be a check made out for 25 dollars to a ‘Date, Inc’.
What follows is a pure police procedural – with the duo stringing together the facts and the clues available from both the crime scenes. What they do find out is that both the girls were members of a dating agency, a man by the name of Hoopes was given a list of 3 women by the dating agency(2 of whom were found dead on consecutive days), and if they don’t find Hoopes in time, they would have another body on their hands. They track Hoopes down to a hotel only to find that he has vacated the hotel without leaving a trace, they try to trace the girl but find that she is already on the way to keep her date with Hoopes but none of the girl’s friends know about the dating place. When they do figure out the place by some clever deductions, they end up arresting the wrong person. But they get their man in the end!