Twist #016 – The Carnival Caper by Edward D. Hoch


It was only by chance that Detective Sergeant Nancy Trentino was the first to reach the Glenside Amusement Park that Saturday morning. She’d been driving back to headquarters after checking out a narcotics tip when she picked up the report on her police radio of a hold-up in progress.

Her unmarked car skidded to a stop at the park entrance and she was out and running, reaching into her purse for her .38 service revolver. A uniformed security guard tried to block her path and she shouted. “Police! Report of a robbery in progress!”

“It’s all over,” the guard told her. “Mr. Blackthorn shot the guy while he was trying to escape.”

Nancy Trentino slipped the revolver back into her shoulder bag but kept her hand on it as she followed the security guard into the park. Already a large crowd had gathered near the merry-go-round.

A stocky man wearing a striped shirt stood in the center of the circle. The body of a long-haired young man was sprawled at his feet. Nancy identified herself and knelt to examine the body. There was a single bloody hole in the center of the back where the bullet had hit him. “He was running away with my money,” the stocky man told Nancy. “I warned him to stop and then I shot him.”

“Keep back, everyone!” Nancy shouted as the circle of the crowd began to tighten. “Are you Blackthorn?” she asked the man.

“That’s right,” he said. “Sam Blackthorn. I’m one of the owners here.”

She noticed the automatic pistol stuck casually in his belt. “Is that the weapon you used?”


“Give it here.” She wrapped it in a clean handkerchief and placed it in her purse.

Two uniformed patrolmen pushed their way through the circle of spectators. One of them knew her. “Hi, Nancy. Did you nail this guy?”

She shook her head. “This gentleman did the honors. See if you can break up this crowd, will you, Phil?”

The officer turned and held up his arms. “Okay, the show is over. Everyone back to the rides!”

Nancy led Blackthorn aside and took out her notebook. She needed a statement.

“I was counting the money from last night,” he told her, “getting it ready for the bank. Friday is always a big date night here, and I had just under nine thousand dollars in the sack when this punk barged into the office waving a gun. I pushed the silent alarm button under my desk and gave him the sack. He ran out and I grabbed my gun from the desk drawer and went after him. Hell, no young punk gets the best of Sam Blackthorn!”


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