Smoke of the .45 (Harry Sinclair Drago, 1923)

A western mystery. A stranger rides into a small Nevada town, takes a room at the hotel, and later that night is discovered dead. It was framed as a suicide, but Johnny Dice suspects murder and sets out to bring the guilty to justice. It turns out that nineteen years before, the man was a mining partner of two of the town’s most prominent residents. When they struck pay dirt, the pair decided they’d rather not split the fortune three-ways and left the man for dead in the desert. Until then, they thought the matter was settled, but when the past came back to haunt them, they saw only one way to prevent exposure.

Inscription: Robert E. Shroule, signed on the front flyleaf.

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The Lengthened Shadow (William J. Locke, 1923)

Suzanne runs away from her wealthy uncle, who had demanded that she marry his friend Moordius, a Parisian financier. She finds her way to Timothy — a widower with one young daughter — and takes the position of governess in his house. When Uncle dies, Timothy finds himself named along with Moordius as being in joint custody of Suzanne’s fortune until her 25th birthday.

Moordius is a gambling addict. He’s already exhausted his own wealth and is quickly running through his firm’s. However, he is extremely is suave and persuasive. Neither Suzanne nor Timothy can resist his charm and both willingly play into his newest scheme — to take on Timothy as a business partner, marry Suzanne under French law (i.e., joint assets), bail himself out using her fortune, and blackmail Timothy into remaining silent with the threat of his own bankruptcy if the company should fail. Only his daughter, Valerie, knows the truth. She tries to warn them, but it’s her word against his, and he talks very well.