Joyce's friend, Nora Pendleton, is waiting the in Murdock apartment when Kent gets home. She's obviously shaken and possibly in shock and she reveals that she has just shot a man. Jerry Carter who was a sleazy gossip columnist who ran a nice sideline in blackmail. Murdock is sympathetic to her motive but not sure he should get involved...then his wife comes home. And her response to Kent when she hears Nora's story? "You've got to help her." So, Kent, who through his fair and honest dealings with the police has earned their respect, goes off to snatch whatever evidence Nora may have left behind when she exited Carter's office. Like the murder weapon.
But even rescuing a damsel in distress can't prevent Kent's photographic instincts from kicking in and when he sees the murder scene (no one's called the cops yet) he starts snapping photos ('cuz a cameraman always has his equipment with him...even when on a mission to interfere with evidence). And even outside the office building he stops on his way in to take few shots of a sandwich board man on stilts with a trail of small boys behind him (always good for a human interest angle).
He notices several people well-known to him milling about on the street in the background. Lew Novak and Hazel Jaffe...and watching his wife and the other man was Roy Jaffe. And also another man he recognized as Gordon Thorndike. Quite a congregation.
And then things get really interesting for Kent. It seems that everybody who was on that street that afternoon want to make sure those pictures never see the light of day. They all seem to have reasons unrelated to Carter's murder, but is one of them covering the more serious crime? Soon his office at the newspaper is like the Grand Central Station of photography deals--with people begging, threatening, and offering money to guarantee that Kent either won't print the photos or will hand them over. Once it's proven that Nora actually didn't kill Carter, Kent is ready to forget the entire thing. But somebody won't let him. That somebody is desperate enough to get their hands on the photos and/or plates to kill for them--Kent's assistant, who develops the plates, is slugged over the head and dies. From that point on, Kent is determined to find out who the killer is and he's convinced that one person is responsible for both deaths.
Coxe provides tough guy crime with a very light touch. There are dames and dolls and men on the make; gamblers and gossips and guys on the take. There are hired goons to sent to rough Kent up. But Kent, for all his tough exterior, is a softie when it comes to a lady in tight spot. The novel is fairly clued, but I have to say he still fooled me. I probably should have spotted the culprit, but I didn't. Excellent novel from the 1930s. ★★★★
This counts for the "Camera" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.