The Glass Key Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Ned Beaumont reports to his friend, Paul Madvig, the political boss of a town in the New York City area, that he has found the dead body of Taylor Henry, the son of Senator Henry, Madvig’s candidate for reelection. When Madvig fails to show much interest, Ned tells his story to the police. The next day, he goes to Bernie Despain to collect $3,250 that he had won betting on a horse race. He finds that Bernie has vanished, leaving behind IOUs made out by Taylor Henry to the worth of $1,200. Ned asks to be appointed special investigator in the district attorney’s office so that he can work on the Taylor Henry case. What he really wants to do is to find Bernie and get his money.

His first step is to get the help of Madvig’s daughter, Opal, who had been meeting Taylor secretly. Ned did not find a hat on Taylor the night of the murder. Opal gave him one from the room she and Taylor had rented. Then Ned goes to a speakeasy in New York that Bernie frequented. Bernie comes in accompanied by a burly bodyguard who, when Ned demands his money, strikes Ned a terrific blow. With the help of Jack Rumsen, a private detective, Ned trails Bernie from the hotel where he is staying to a brownstone house on Forty-ninth Street. There he tells Bernie that he planted Taylor’s hat behind a sofa cushion in Bernie’s hotel room and will leave it there for the police to find if Bernie does not pay him what he owes him. Bernie pays.

Back in town, Ned goes to see Farr, the district attorney, who shows him an envelope enclosing paper on which are typed three questions that implicate Madvig in Taylor’s murder. Meanwhile, Madvig has decided to have the police close down several speakeasies belonging to gangster and ward boss Shad O’Rory. O’Rory has reopened the Dog House, and when Ned goes there for information, O’Rory has him tortured for several days. Ned finally escapes and is taken to a hospital.

There he has many callers, including Madvig and Taylor’s sister, Janet Henry. Opal Madvig goes to tell Ned she is sure her father killed Taylor. Ned assures her that he does not believe Madvig committed the murder. Partly recovered, he leaves the hospital against orders.

Shortly afterward, Ned and Madvig dine with Senator...

(The entire section is 920 words.)