MURDER FOR A MILLION [The Women of WWII Mysteries] by Clarence Budington Kelland

When World War II thrust her into a new job, she found it had also thrust her into danger, mystery and a million-dollar riddle!

“Romance...suspense...action, Kelland is exceptional.” —Los Angeles Times

Nancy Youngblood had grown up down the street from Robert Dalhart, and had known they were right for each other since childhood. But Robert just thought of her as a kid-sister type. Since World War II had started, Robert, fresh out of college, had been working as executive assistant to his father who operated the Dalhart Manufacturing Company, an important factory vital to the war effort. Then his father died and Robert was left in charge.

Nancy knew it was her one chance to let Robert discover the love they could share. Since she was heir to 25% of the factory, she insisted on becoming Robert's executive assistant, and quickly proved her worth. But Robert was so caught up in his new responsibilities he never noticed Nancy.

That's when sabotage began to stalk the plant, a murdered man who couldn't be identified was found, mysterious shadowy figures began to appear outside her windows at night, and rumors of Nazi activity began to circulate. None of those scared Nancy—but what did scare her was the feeling that Robert was being framed for the murder, or about to become murder's next victim.

Suddenly Nancy realized that when she had taken on her new job at Dalhart Manufacturing she had also taken on danger, mystery and a million-dollar riddle.

Another masterpiece of romantic suspense, written by Clarence Budington Kelland to fulfill the government's request for inspiring stories showing that, with the men drafted and gone to war, women could capably take up their jobs and prove equally strong in facing daunting situations.

So successful in portraying life from the 1940s woman's POV (his heroines were always based on his feminist, businesswoman mother) it was published in Woman's Home Companion, Murder for a Million is filled with his signature oddball characters and offbeat dialogue. Among the memorable people readers will meet are:

  • Miss Hattie and Miss Nellie, twin sisters who were inseparable—until they suddenly started appearing in town one at a time.
  • Whitelaw Bowen, a man who didn't believe in rules or laws...but genuinely fell in love with Nancy.
  • Mrs. Knowland and Mrs. Hickman, two nosy neighbors who sat out on the porch all day and never missed a thing that happened (or didn't happen). They were never left out of the loop on the local gossip...because they were always its source.
  • Rosalind Cheney, for whom the term "dangerous curves" must surely have been coined. This golden-haired New York nightclub siren thought she was sitting on top of the world—until she found she was up to her neck in murder.
  • Manton Turner, a long-lost brother who turned out to be a cheap gunman. He thought he could terrify any woman with a revolver—till Nancy turned the tables on him.
  • Detective Clovis, who wished Nancy would stay out of the case—but he never turned down any of the clues she brought him.
  • Willard Lestrange, a highly-respected businessman who wanted to buy the Dalhart Manufacturing Company. One had to wonder if he had anything to do with the company's labor trouble—or even the sabotage—or was it the work of Nazi Fifth Columnists?

"When a very serious author turns his hand to murder thrillers, and particularly to as blithe and vivid a heroine as Nancy Youngblood, one must really acknowledge his mastery of the craft. Nancy, a brilliant young woman, being of an investigating disposition, gets herself involved in a complicated mystery of murder and high finance; and only after much trial and tribulation does she land the man of her choice, who had been singled out for many of the most outrageous slings of ill-fortune. A murder mystery far above the average, where the technique of the plot and the quality of the writing are concerned." —The World's Work


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About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland is a legendary Golden Age author of mystery and romantic suspense. Kelland penned some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest-paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. His trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans would likely disagree. There is nothing second-rate about his work.