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February 23 , 2010

Constance Dunlap


Constance Bennett is less a detective than an anti-detective, dedicated to helping criminals cover their tracks. This might have made her interesting, like Leslie Chaarteres's Simon Templar, if her actions let smaller criminals and naifs escape while punishing the people higher up. In a few cases, this is what she does, as in the case of a kleptomaniac who is being made the scapegoat for a systematic shop lifter. But for the most part her clients (like herself) are driven only by greed and resentment against somebody, not necessarily the person they are robbing. Constance herself starts as a successful forger and protects, among others, the treasurer of an import firm who is induced by his superiors to bribe customs inspectors and feels that this entitles him to embezzle from the company. She advises extortion by collecting the evidence of their involvement in the bribes. He, as a result, is not charged and keeps his position and goes on passing bribes and probably embezzling. She becomes driven by a dislike for a somwhat shady and very good private detective to get the criminals off. She finally ends by earning the grudging admiration of the detective and the love of a superintendent of a bank vault who has been looting the safe deposit boxes.

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