RAOUL WHITFIELD “China Man.” Jo Gar #18. Published under the name Ramon Decolta in Black Mask, March 1932. Reprinted in The Hardboiled Dicks, edited by Ron Goulart (Sherbourne Press, 1965). Collected in West of Guam: The Complete Cases of Jo Gar (Altus Press, 2013).

   Jo Gar is attacked in his office by someone who appears to be a Chinese coolie, but strangely enough the knife thrower misses his mark, even at close range. Gar tries to follow him, but loses him in the crowds in the streets of Manila under the stress of an approaching hurricane.

   Returning to his small cramped office, he finds a note from his client slipped under the door. The man, an importer of valuable jade, had come early and left. The note accuses a “China man” as the person who has been stealing from him.

   Then his client turns up murdered, knifed to death, and his body dumped into a river.

   This may sound like a complicated case, but in spite of what also seems like a story with a lot of action, neither is true. What makes the story work as well as it does is the setting, that of what had to have been a really exotic, foreign land to most readers of Black Mask in 1932, the streets and other sights of the Philippines. And to tell you the truth, it probably still is to most people living in the US today.

Note: I first wrote a review of this story in 1967, and I posted it on this blog a few weeks ago. Follow the link and you can read it here.