GIMLET LENDS A HAND
First Published in October 1949 - 189 pages
Cub travels to London and drops in to see Copper and Trapper who are now running a garage. Cub has come down for a job interview. He is responding to an advert that offers £10,000 to a man physically fit, able to furnish the highest references, familiar with lethal weapons and able to speak French. The advert was sent to Cub by Gimlet. Going to the mysterious interview, Cub eventually meets Rudolf Vanderskell, an American citizen and the richest man in the world. Vanderskell has been the victim of kidnappers due to his vast wealth. Fifteen years ago, his two year old daughter, Anne, was kidnapped and never seen again, believed murdered after he went to the police. Now his fourteen year old son, Johnny, has been kidnapped. Vanderskell is willing to pay £10,000 to a man who can get his son back. He cannot go to the police for fear that his son will be also be murdered. Vanderskell has good reason to believe that his son is in Vallonceau, a remote French town in the mountains of Provence. Cub asks permission to take some men with him to help. Copper and Trapper go with Cub but Gimlet does not go. He offers help should any be needed. Cub travels to the Hotel du Midi in Vallonceau, this being the only hotel in the town and Copper and Trapper arrive later. Here they are annoyed by the attentions of a French poet who wears a bright pink shirt. Our three heroes look all around the town of Vallonceau for clues but find nothing. They take a tour of an old chateau and are interested to note that the custodian who shows them around smokes American cigarettes. The kidnappers they are searching for are believed to be an American gang. After five days and no further clues, Cub happens to fall into conversation with some French children. They have been marked by a Gypsy girl with a purple-blue Maltese cross. Vanderskell had said that his two children had been tattooed with this mark for recognition purposes, should the police ever be called upon to identity them or their bodies. Cub speaks with this Gypsy girl, named Sara, and sees she has this tattoo. Speaking with her "father" and offering him large sums of money, Cub finds out that Sara is not his daughter at all. She had been rescued from the flooded river many years ago. Cub is convinced that Sara is Vanderskell's missing daughter. He is astonished at the irony of the situation. He has been sent to find Vanderskell's son but instead finds his daughter by pure chance! Keeping this secret for the time being, further enquires reveal the girl came from the house of a man called Cristiano Zabani. Cub goes to make enquiries about the whereabouts of that man and asks the custodian who showed them around the old chateau. Cub is embarrassed to discover that he is Cristiano Zabani and has to make excuses for his enquiries. Cub suspects the kidnapped boy may be in the dungeons of the chateau as they were not part of the tour. Cub and Copper follow Zabani to Nice where he meets with notorious American gangster, Joe the Snout. Another of their party is Pinkshirt, the poet. Cub returns to Vallonceau and uses a ladder to get into the old chateau and explore. He can't get to the dungeons without tools and has to abandon his recognisance. The next morning, Joe the Snout arrives at the Hotel du Midi in Vallonceau and offers Cub money to leave. Cub realises that his actions have caused suspicion to fall on him and that he has to go. Cub moves to a hotel in Nice but returns on foot to access the dungeons of the chateau. The gangsters see Cub's return and men are sent after him to kill him. Cub is forced to cross a dangerously high viaduct and jump a gap in the middle of it. A gangster is waiting for Cub at the other end when Gimlet lends a hand by arriving and knocking the man out (a scene depicted on the cover of the book). This is Gimlet's first appearance in the book at page 151. Our heroes get into the chateau and see Zabani go into the dungeon. Following him down, they find a hidden passage underground. This leads to a room where young Johnny Vanderskell has been kept but now he has gone. The boy is being removed in a Buick car but Trapper is able to delay it. Gimlet is able to rescue the boy and hold the American gangsters at bay with his gun. Not being able to take them prisoner, he sends them on their way. They go to collect the ransom money without the boy and are all caught. Our heroes then go to meet Mr. Vanderskell where Cub will pick up his reward money. Mr. Vanderskell can then make arrangements to meet his long lost daughter.
Gimlet Lends a Hand
Subtitle - A "King of the Commandos" Adventure.
Publication Details - originally published by Brockhampton Press Ltd.
Click on the Frontispiece to enlarge it