first published as the short story “The Labor Union Murder" in the July 9, 1957, issue of Look magazine
first published in book form in the short-story collection And Four to Go, 1958
The tent, on a wooden platform raised three feet above the ground, not much bigger than Wolfe’s office, was crowded with people, and I wormed through to the front entrance and on out, where the platform extended into the open air. There was plenty of air, with a breeze dancing in from the direction of the ocean, and plenty of sunshine. A fine day for the Fourth of July. The platform extension was crammed with chairs, most of them empty. I can’t report on the condition of the meadow’s grass because my view was obstructed by ten thousand restaurant workers and their guests, maybe more. A couple of thousand of them were in a solid mass facing the platform, presumably those who wanted to be up front for the speeches, and the rest were sprayed around all over, clear across to a fringe of trees and a row of sheds.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY TO ALL BLOG READERS
I don’t think it’s one of Wolfe’s finest moments, but it was enjoyable enough, and I very much liked the description of the union members out for their celebration. In fact, I’d have liked more about the picnic and the rally, but of course a murder is going to intervene, and the investigation must take priority.
Three of the four stories in this collection were keyed to specific celebrations: Christmas, Easter and this one. The fourth one, Murder is No Joke, should have been right up my street – it deals with a small but highly influential fashion house
Gallant was crowding two others for top ranking in the world of high fashion. He thumbed his nose at Paris and sneered at Rome, and was getting away with it. He had refused to finish three dresses for the Duchess of Harwynd because she postponed flying over from London for fittings. He declined to make anything whatever for a certain famous movie actress because he didn’t like the way she handled her hips when she walked. He had been known to charge as little as eight hundred dollars for an afternoon frock, but it had been for a favorite customer so he practically gave it away.
-- there is all kinds of trouble in the workrooms and offices, culminating in death. But the clothes were incidental and the crime too easy to solve. There was a trick that reminded me of one in a Cyril Hare book. Not quite enough to justify its own blogpost.
But And Four to Go was a nice collection – Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery first put me onto it – and I liked the date-themed stories. The Jane Haddam introduction to more recent editions of the book (from 1992) is also well worth reading.
More Rex Stout entries for our recent Tuesday Night Club – click on the author label below.
The pictures are not related to the story but are too good not to use. Marilyn Monroe being patriotic in a bathing suit (and, fair play, warning of danger), and silent star Colleen Moore dressed as Uncle Sam.