FREDERICK NEBEL “Red Hot.” Jack Cardigan #27. Short story. Dime Detective, July 1, 1934. First collected in The Complete Casebook of Cardigan, Volume 3: 1934-35 (Altus Press, 2012). Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

   Private eye Jack Cardigan appeared in some 44 hard-boiled tales published in Dime Detective Magazine between 1931 and 1937. Assisting him in many of his cases was Patricia Steward, sometimes in major ways. (I am not clear as to what her status actually was in the Cosmos Agency. Was she his secretary, or was she actually something more than that?)

   In “Red Hot,” Cardigan is hired by a client to find his nephew who left his family in bad standing, but now that his father has died, he is needed to be present for the reading of the will. Cardigan makes short work of finding the nephew, but the man flat out refuses to go back with his uncle.

   When Cardigan reports to the uncle, he assumes the man will confront his nephew directly, but the next morning Cardigan learns that the uncle has disappeared. Things happen very quickly from this point on, but not only is this a fast-moving story, it’s well plotted, too, ending in a most satisfactory fashion. (Many pulp yarns start off with a bang only to flag off badly at the end.)

   I read this one in the Penzler anthology, another giant doorstop of a book that’s well worth the money. I do question why this particular Cardigan story was used, though. Pat Steward is present throughout, but truth be told, besides being on hand to offer comfort to the nephew’s wife, she has very little to do.