Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dead End for Jo Gar
Read/Watch 'em In Order #66
"The Blind Chinese" (published in the April 1931 issue of Black Mask) brings us to the halfway point in the Rainbow Diamonds saga.
In the first two stories, the trail after the stolen diamonds has brought Spanish-Filipino detective Jo Gar from Manila to Honolulu--following partial clues taken from the fragmented last words of dying criminals.
As I mentioned last time, Jo Gar heard dying men mumble cryptic last words with surprising frequency. This entry in the series, though, seems to bring him to a dead end. He knows he has to find a blind Chinese in Honolulu, but the city has a large Chinese population, undoubtedly with its percentage of blind people.
The bad guys inadvertently help Jo out by trying to kill him. Jo evades death and captures the chauffeur who had been paid to drive him into a trap. This puts the chauffeur in a very uncomfortable position. If he takes Jo to the blind Chinese, he'll be killed. If he refuses to help Jo--he'll be killed. (Or so Jo allows him to think.)
This leads to a great bit of hard-boiled dialogue. When the driver tries to justify his actions by saying he's a poor man, Jo Gar replies "Then you have less to live for. Let us start."
Anyway, the story ends with several dead crooks--not ONE of which manages to utter any cryptic last words. That may be a first in Jo Gar's eventful career.
I know I sound like I'm making fun of the story, but it's really a superb piece of hard-boiled fiction, building suspense that leads us to a violent but satisfying conclusion. Jo Gar seems to have run out of leads at this point, but he's still got three upcoming stories in the series, so I'm sure he'll be back on the trail of the diamonds before long.