STOLEN GOODS: Department Store, 1949 [The Workplace Mysteries] by Clarence Budington Kelland


"In this engaging mystery novel, Kelland gives a picture of the intricacies of a modern department store. He puts advertising copywriter Sherry Madigan through a couple of murders, a conspiracy, and grand larceny on a large scale. A handful of eccentric character and a flavor of romance make "Stolen Goods" one of the best of Kelland's stories." —Lincoln Evening Journal

"Sharp vignettes of dept. store folk done with typical Kelland finesse. Heroine cute, action steady, suspense above average." —The Criminal Record

"Breezy style and exciting plot." —L.A. Times

“Shenanigans!”—the word often chosen by loquacious Sherry Madigan, this time to describe what was going on in the Linen Department at Prothero’s, the colossal metropolitan department store where she worked. Of course Sherry was small potatoes at Prothero’s, being only a nerdy copywriter in Advertising and not entitled to an opinion.
But Sherry put her whole self into a job and prided herself on her acute powers of observation. And she had a gift for standing on the spot where things were popping at the precise moment they popped.

...Which was why she happened to be around when a body was found in the fitting room, and why she overheard the cashier in the Linen Department sobbing hysterically: “I'm next”—over and over again. And the girl was right—hers was the next body Sherry found.

At first no one paid any attention to Sherry’s theories about the murder. But gradually, as the situation became more and more sinister, her deductions began to make more and more sense. People became interested in her ideas, including:

* Mr. Portman: one of Prothero’s head buyers and, according to Sherry, a “stinker.” He wanted her to run away to Europe with him—and when she found out what he was running from she changed her assessment to “double stinker.”
* Roger Newsome: Portman’s assistant buyer from a small, quiet town. When Sherry set her cap for him, his life turned anything but quiet—murder was only the start—and he kissed his old life goodbye when he kissed her for the first time.
* “Auntie” Swain: a sympathetic dressing room supervisor. This widow of advancing years had been married to a cop; thanks to him and to her own native talents, she still had better connections and better instincts than most policemen.
* Stepladder Kate: the queen of NYC shoplifters, who limited her activities to Prothero’s because Prothero’s had the best. Kate knew everything about ripping off stores—knowledge which Sherry would later find quite handy.
* Madame de Spain: owner of Maison Versailles, the second classiest store in New York—but her actions were simply déclassé.
* Mixis and Clem: two very shady men, clearly on the other side of the law—with equally shady connections to Madame de Spain and Mr. Portman.
* Pat Evans: Prothero’s head of security. He tended to discount Sherry’s theories about the murder as nonsense—but after the second murder, he began to think they might actually make some sense.
* Mrs. Potter Frazer: one of New York's leading socialites, distraught because Maison Versailles ripped her off—until Sherry suggested a sweet revenge.
A chain of high-powered linen racketeers got interested in Sherry’s ideas, too—and decided that Sherry was very much in the way.
Things started to boil over just at the moment Sherry began to look at assistant buyer Roger Newsome with interest and, being an autodidactic geek, checked out a book on relationships and romance with some eye-opening, 1955-style ideas on how to attract a man.

Stolen Goods is mystery, comedy and romance, and spotlights more of the signature geek characters at which Clarence Budington Kelland so thoroughly excelled—because it takes one to know one.

"Adventure-romance; smooth, frothy and easy to take." —The New York Times

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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.