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THE FILM MYSTERY
A CAMERA CRIME
Kennedy and I had been hastily summoned from his laboratory in
the city by District-Attorney Mackay, and now stood in the
luxurious, ornate library in the country home of Emery Phelps,
the banker, at Tarrytown.
"Camera!--you know the call when the director is ready to shoot a
scene of a picture?--well--at the moment it was given and the
first and second camera men began to grind--she crumpled--sank to
Hot and excited, Mackay endeavored to reenact his case for us
with all the histrionic ability of a popular prosecutor before a
"There's where she dropped--they carried her over here to this
davenport--sent for Doctor Blake--but he couldn't do a thing for
her. She died--just as you see her. Blake thought the matter so
serious, so alarming, that he advised an immediate investigation.
That's why I called you so urgently."
Before us lay the body of the girl, remarkably beautiful even as
she lay motionless in death. Her masses of golden hair,
disheveled, added to the soft contours of her features. Her
wonderfully large blue-gray eyes with their rare gift for
delicate shades of expression were closed, but long curling
lashes swept her cheeks still and it was hard to believe that
this was anything more than sleep.
It was inconceivable that Stella Lamar, idol of the screen,
beloved of millions, could have been taken from the world which
I felt keenly for the district attorney. He was a portly little
man of the sort prone to emphasize his own importance and so,
true to type, he had been upset completely by a case of genuine
magnitude. It was as though visiting royalty had dropped dead
within his jurisdiction.
I doubt whether the assassination of a McKinley or a Lincoln
could have unsettled him as much, because in such an event he
would have had the whole weight of the Federal government behind
him. There was no question but that Stella Lamar enjoyed a
country-wide popularity known by few of our Presidents. Her
sudden death was a national tragedy.
Apparently Mackay had appealed to Kennedy the moment he learned
the identity of Stella, the moment he realized there was any
question about the circumstances surrounding the affair. Over the
telephone the little man had been almost incoherent. He had heard
of Kennedy's work and was feverishly anxious to enlist his aid,
at any price.
All we knew as we took the train on the New York Central was that
Stella was playing a part in a picture to be called "The Black
Terror," that the producer was Manton Pictures, Incorporated, and
that she had dropped dead suddenly and without warning in the
middle of a scene being photographed in the library at the home
of Emery Phelps.
I was singularly elated at the thought of accompanying Kennedy on
this particular case. It was not that the tragic end of a film
star whose work I had learned to love was not horrible to me, but
rather because, for once, I thought Kennedy actually confronted a
situation where his knowledge of a given angle of life was hardly
sufficient for his usual analysis of the facts involved.
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