Books: Germs

2 minute read

THE MOTIVES OF NICHOLAS HOLTZ— Thomas Painter and Alexander Laing—Farrar & Rinehart ($2).

Nicholas Holtz was a fiend in tycoon form, but he was also a potent and respectable citizen. The unseen tsar of a million destinies, he had in his grasp three U. S. towns, complete with their industries, police force, politics. In devious but sufficiently direct ways he controlled everything that went on therein. Of the many simmering pies to which his finger had the prime right of poke, his armament industry was the pet. And armaments meant not simply steel but explosives, gas, chemicals.

Tom Howerth, brilliant young research chemist, neither knew nor cared who hired him, who fitted out an expensive laboratory for him and then left him to his own devices. He thought it was queer, but because he was hot on the trail of a great discovery he soon forgot to wonder. What Howerth thought he was after, and then thought he had, was the creation of organic life from inorganic matter. When his invention turned out to be a deadly virus that killed his only friend, he was horrified. But Nicholas Holtz was pleased, chalked up another long shot turned asset.

When Holtz had Howerth’s laboratory burned down to get rid of a corpse that might be even uglier if found, Howerth risked his life to save his deadly but still beloved serum, and was blinded for his pains. When a sudden and fatal epidemic broke out in one of Holtz’s destitute mining towns, the few who knew what Howerth had been up to began to suspect that Holtz had taken over the experiment. While Howerth and his assistants worked feverishly to find an antivirus for the plague, Holtz wiped out his human liabilities by the thousand.

Howerth finally conquered the monster he had created, and diabolic old Nicholas Holtz was at last cornered by a kitten. But long before this ingenious horror story lays out its final cadaver, many a germ-haunted reader will be thinking seriously of gargling.

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