Martin For The Defense by Jaime Sandaval
Theme: Authors from the pages of AHMM
Source: Alfred Hitchcock’s Tales to Make You Quake And Quiver
Story Number: 91
Jaime Sandaval was a pseudonym used by Dan J. Marlowe for a group of detective short stories that appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine. This story is a pure court-room drama in the tradition of a Perry Mason story but without the dramatics of the famous lawyer sleuth.
Martin is a lawyer who won’t take a case without a retainer. Mickey Bananas has an earlier conviction for burglary and this time, the charge is grand larceny for stealing an oil painting from a cathedral supposed to be worth two hundred thousand dollars. Defending Mickey seems to be a pretty hopeless situation as there are six witnesses, all nuns, who saw him steal the painting and he was later caught red-handed with the booty on him. The only alternative left for Martin is to prove that the painting was a forgery which would throw the grand larceny case out of the court. But he is in for a surprise when the prosecution brings in a star witness, a witness who valued the painting before it was donated to the cathedral, a witness who has around 20 years of experience in analyzing Italian oil paintings, a witness who happens to have written the only manuscript on the topic. It is a battle of the legal mind versus the expertise of the art critic and the appraiser – and as in so many court room procedurals, it’s no wonder as to what the outcome would be but it’s still a jolly good ride to see another expert fall prey to the guiles of a defense lawyer!