Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Death Sled, Part 2: The True Murder Weapon

Speed, being an Ace Investigator, has the brilliant idea of following the tracks that led to and from the body.

AGAIN, he could have been a cutter. Was Ellie Nash's suffering entirely in vain?!

t turns out (despite having left clear tracks to and from the body, making it obvious it wasn't a suicide) the criminal was a mastermind! The murder cleverly walked ON THE ROAD.

When your transportation consists almost entirely of tesseracts, silhouettes, and the Speedmobile, the idea of walking on a road seems pretty innovative.

Speed follows his hunch and heads for the garage, not only because Speed's hunches are invariably correct, but because it's cold out.

Because it's cold out.

Speed searches the garage for vital clues, and, naturally, finds some, because whatever Speed wants to happen, the universe will make happen, if the universe knows what's good for it.

Nothing you see in this panel is a vital clue.

I think Speed finds the wires that were used to bind Tommy Dell to his sled, but it's a bit hard to tell from the art. Not as hard to tell as Ming Toy's blood arrow from the Chinatown murder, mind you, but still a bit hard.

That's "skin" for us laymen.

After manhandling with his bare hands the evidence that he hopes carries traces of the victim's skin, Speed strides out into the universe, confidence that it will continue to obediently provide him with clues. Which it does.

"I may find some interesting goldfish frozen in there. They're something of a hobby of mine, you know."

Without a city's worth of authority figures to boss around, all of Speed's ridiculous and imperious demands fall into the muffled mitts of Miss Evarts (and, through her, Constable Safetybelt).

"Also, a yo-yo, a live chicken, and a volume of Oriental lore. I'll wait here, thinking up more absurd demands."

That's not really a "grappling net" it's a fishing net, but Speed kind of lives in his own idiomatic linguaverse.  Speed has the constable do the grunt work because, I mean, really now, have you seen what Speed's wearing?  He's not going to risk get pond scum on his winter-white fedora.

The constable, like all authority, bows down before Speed Saunders.

Naturally, Speed finds exactly what he wants, even though he has no idea what he's looking for.

"But... what is it?"

Ah-ha; the murder weapon! It's a hammer. 

Somehow, Speed thinks it's "very clever" to: whack a boy on the head with a hammer, ditch the weapon in an obvious hole in the nearby pond, tie the body to a sled with wires that leave marks on the body, push the sled down a hill till it (you hope) hits a tree, go down afterwards and (HOPING that no one has yet reached the body, having heard the thudding sickening thump) tromp through the snow to snip off the wire, which you then don't bother to dispose of properly but just let lie around in the garage.

Why not just hang the hammer back up wherever you got it? Why not wedge the boy's clothes into the sled to keep the body on it?  Why not lose the wires in the pond?  So many questions.

A pause to un-ironically appreciate Speed's lack of sexism.

At this point, I'll note that for a store titled "The Death Sled", it's kind of odd that pretty much the very first thing we learn is that... the sled didn't kill anybody. But it is a much more interesting title than "The Death Hammer".

As long as we are paused, let's give you a chance to guess Speed's next move. He's knows there's been a murder and a cover-up.  He's found the body and method and the weapon and has all authority at his disposal.  WHAT DOES HE DO?

... pencils down!

POINTS for everyone who guess "ordered a stomach pumped".

YES; Speed orders the corpse's stomach to be pumped.  Which is a little odd, since you can just cut a corpse's stomach open; the reason you have people's stomachs pumped is because when they are ALIVE it's the only way to get stuff out of their stomach (short of surgery).  It also odd because THE VICTIM'S HEAD WAS BASHED IN. But, hey... Speeds loves to order stomach pumps.

Miss Evarts has an apostrophe problem. Or perhaps it's Dr. Jone's problem.

Speeds gets to boss around another authority figure, Dr. Jones.

"You want me to pump a corpse's stomach? Oh, you must be Speed Saunders!"

Speed doesn't just stand around, because that would waste time, so he conducts fingerprint tests on the murder weapon--the one that's been sitting at the bottom of a frozen lake--but, in vain.

I assume that a good chunk of that hour was just Speed trying to STARE the hammer into confessing.

Amazingly, it turns out that... Speed was RIGHT! For no reason whatsoever, in a scene we never saw, Speed had guessed that Tommy had actually been POISONED BY DIGITALIS.

"Yes, doctor, I insist that digitalis be the poison used in ALL my stories; it saves time."

"The Death Digitalis" is an even worse title than "The Death Hammer".  Anyway, sensing how many pages have already been used up, Speed dashes off to start bossing around every druggist he can find.

"What do you mean MORE than one druggist in town?! I don't have time for that, it damned well better be the first druggist I visit, if he knows what's good for him!"


John C said...

Is Dell Rasputin's junior high school rival, trying to be killed more ways than his former friend? "Poor Dell was poisoned with digitalis, left to starve in this barrel, strangled with this rag, then the murderer or murderess bashed his head in with the hammer, left him in the garage with the car running to asphyxiate, stapled him to the sled, and rammed the sled into the tree, which ultimately triggered his nut allergy. Also, those were our footprints in the snow. Oopsie. The single set, dear Constable, is where I carried you."

Far be it for me to question an Ace Investigator's fashion sense, but under the jacket so large that it comfortably stores a fingerprint file--is Speed wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt, tie, and vest? No red-dressed femme fatale is going to dance him into a major plot point in that get-up...

CobraMisfit said...

Even with this being a Speed story, a few items stood out with this post:

1) Why in the world would you”poison” someone to then bash their head in to THEN bash them against a tree?

Answer: Because Speed so deems it.

2) The hammer, which has been at the bottom of a frozen pond, looks like it’s dripping blood. Don’t tell me it’s just Golden Age coloring, we all know it’s A Speed Clue!

3) This entire story is about someone poisoning, bashing the skull in, and crashing into a tree a....boy. Who is shown leaking blood and brain-matter. Who then has his dead-stomach pumped. Only with Speed is the least weird thing that the victim is a minor.

Scipio said...

"Why in the world would you”poison” someone to then bash their head in to THEN bash them against a tree?"

Scipio said...

Misfit; you get THREE guesses WHERE Speed finds the answer to that question.

Scipio said...

Pretty sure Speed's sleeves are supposed to be rolled up, as fingerprinting is messy work.

CobraMisfit said...

Well, it's a Speed story, so either:

1) The Library, and it's the first book he chooses.
2) The Dame will just tell him.
3) He already knows and just wants A Random Clue to show to Constable Bus Monitor.

Bryan L said...

Only one reason for this strange chain of events. Someone poisoned Dell because they couldn't take him on in a hand-to-hand fight with a hammer. Bashing in the head and doing the sled trick is a red herring, foiled by Speed's stomach pump fetish.

So I'm pretty sure the killer is a woman and there's only one introduced so far. BUT this is Speed Saunders, so it's entirely possible Dell was killed by a secret cabal of assassins, led by Doctor Jone.