The "Canary" Murder Case

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The "Canary" Murder Case (1927)
by Willard Huntington Wright
4452087The "Canary" Murder Case1927Willard Huntington Wright
The Philo Vance series

The Benson Murder Case
The "Canary" Murder Case

In Preparation
The Greene Murder Case

The "Canary" Murder Case

The "Canary" Murder Case

A Philo Vance Story

S. S. Van Dine

First appearances may deceive many: the intelligence alone perceives what has been carefully hidden in the recesses of the mind.—Phædrus.

New York
Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright, 1927, by
Charles Scribner's Sons
Printed in the United States of America


For many years I was the personal attorney and constant companion of Mr. Philo Vance; and this period covered the four years during which Mr. John F.-X. Markham, Vance's closest friend, was District Attorney of New York. As a result it was my privilege to be a spectator of what I believe was the most amazing series of criminal cases that ever passed before the eyes of a young lawyer. Indeed, the grim dramas I witnessed during that period constitute one of the most astonishing secret documents in American police history.

Of these dramas Vance was the central character. By an analytical and interpretative process which, as far as I know, has never before been applied to criminal activities, he succeeded in solving many of the important crimes on which both the police and the District Attorney's office had hopelessly fallen down.

Due to my peculiar relations with Vance it happened that not only did I participate in all the cases with which he was connected, but I was also present at most of the informal discussions concerning them which took place between him and the District Attorney; and, being of methodical temperament, I kept a complete record of them. It is fortunate that I performed this gratuitous labor of accumulation and transcription, for now that circumstances have rendered possible my making the cases public, I am able to present them in full detail and with all their various sidelights and succeeding steps.

In another volume—"The Benson Murder Case"—I have related how Vance happened to become involved in criminal investigation, and have also set forth the unique analytic methods of crime detection by which he solved the problem of Alvin Benson's mysterious murder.

The present chronicle has to do with Vance's solution of the brutal murder of Margaret Odell—a cause célèbre which came to be known as the "Canary" murder. The strangeness, the daring, the seeming impenetrability of the crime marked it as one of the most singular and astonishing cases in New York's police annals; and had it not been for Philo Vance's participation in its solution, I firmly believe it would have remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of this country.

New York.


Chapter Page
Characters of the Book ix
I. The "Canary" 1
II. Footprints in the Snow 9
III. The Murder 18
IV. The Print of a Hand 34
V. The Bolted Door 48
VI. A Call for Help 58
VII. A Nameless Visitor 67
VIII. The Invisible Murderer 78
IX. The Pack in Full Cry 87
X. A Forced Interview 102
XI. Seeking Information 114
XII. Circumstantial Evidence 126
XIII. An Erstwhile Gallant 136
XIV. Vance Outlines a Theory 146
XV. Four Possibilities 157
XVI. Significant Disclosures 167
XVII. Checking an Alibi 179
XVIII. The Trap 190
XIX. The Doctor Explains 200
XX. A Midnight Witness 211
XXI. A Contradiction in Dates 222
XXII. A Telephone Call 234
XXIII. The Ten O'Clock Appointment 247
XXIV. An Arrest 257
XXV. Vance Demonstrates 270
XXVI. Reconstructing the Crime 282
XXVII. A Game of Poker 295
XXVIII. The Guilty Man 307
XXIX. Beethoven's "Andante" 319
XXX. The End 333

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in 1927, before the cutoff of January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1939, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 84 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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