Cover image for Groucho Marx, secret agent
Groucho Marx, secret agent
Goulart, Ron, 1933-
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2002.
Physical Description:
219 pages ; 22 cm
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It could be said that in this episode Groucho Marx operates as a Hollywood-style Scarlet Pimpernel, with a repertoire of outrageous puns covering the steely, daring life of a counterspy. But, as Groucho might retort, his cover is at the dry-cleaner, and, besides, Groucho is not one to hide his light under any bushel (even one of stuffed clams). So he and Frank Denby, his sidekick, scriptwriter and close friend, set out to uphold their reputation as amateur sleuths by looking into the death of British director Eric Olmstead. First Olmstead fainted at a star-studded Halloween party after a man dressed as the Grim Reaper had whispered to him and then disappeared. But it is not until the next day that he is found dead -- presumably by his own hand.
It is 1939; everyone expects the U.S. to join the war raging in Europe. And everyone is looking under the bed for spies. Soon the questions surrounding the death of Eric Olmstead takes on an odor of espionage.
The police call Olmstead's death a suicide. After all, he did leave a (typed) note. His widow refuses to believe that her husband shot himself, and persuades Groucho and Frank to look further. Soon the pair is enmeshed in FBI agents and Los Angeles police, while the grieving widow clamors for revenge. Here is where Groucho proves his genius as a detective--he seizes on the clue that reveals the death to be murder.
This, however, is only the beginning. There is another murder. Groucho and Frank are attacked; Frank is shot at (but not hit); Groucho is hit (but not shot at; just knocked to the floor by the fleeing assailant). They not only survive, but they pinpoint theNazi spy and the Hollywood figures working with them.
In a romp made delightful in spite of spies, murders, and occasional dire peril, Goulart uncannily resurrects the most garrulous Marx brother and his unique brand of patter. The Groucho Marx of these stories is the next best thing to the capering of the late comedian himself, and a happy gift to everyone who remembers him fondly as well as those meeting him for the first time.

Author Notes

Ron Goulart was born on January 13, 1933 in Berkeley, CA. Goulart has been a professional writer for over forty years and has published over 180 books. He is best-known for his mystery and science fiction books and is also considered the leading authority on comic books and strips. Goulart has been nominated twice for the Edgar Award. His first nomination was in the category of Best Original Paperback for his novel, After Things Fell Apart, in 1971. He was nominated again in 1989 in the category of Best Critical / Biographical work for his non-fiction work, The Dime Detectives. He also writes under the pseudonyms: Kenneth Robeson, Frank S. Shawn, Joseph Silva, and Con Steffanson.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

This fifth entry in a charming and funny series isn't quite up to its predecessors' standards, but the story is peppered with enough Groucho gags and '30s movie trivia to make it good fun all the same. Scriptwriter Frank Denby, whose cartoonist wife, Jane, is pregnant, joins with his best pal, Groucho, to solve another Hollywood murder. Frank, Jane, and Groucho are attending a studio Halloween party when someone dressed as the Grim Reaper approaches director Eric Olmstead, who passes out after the figure whispers in his ear. The next day, Olmstead is found dead. Olmstead's wife, famous actress Dinah Flanders, doesn't believe the director shot himself and hires Groucho and Frank to find out what happened. The setup grabs our interest, and the pre-WWII era suggests all sorts of intriguing possibilities; unfortunately, Goulart resorts to a weak, cliched story involving Nazi agents. Luckily, Groucho saves the day with his witty comebacks. A slight stumble in a highly entertaining series. Jenny McLarin.



Groucho Marx, Secret Agent One G roucho Marx got back into the detective business again on Halloween of 1939. This time he solved, with some help from me, two more Hollywood murders and also managed to break up a spy ring and almost start another radio show. He was proud of what we were able to accomplish as detectives and counterspies. "I can modestly state that I taught the FBI a few new tricks," Groucho told reporters afterwards. "Of course, J. Edgar Hoover may never have the need to saw a woman in half or pull a rabbit out of his hat." The case, although we didn't know it at the time, actually commenced for us on the night of Monday, October thirtieth. That was when Groucho bumped into, among others, Death, Satan, Paulette Goddard, and three separate Napoleons. I'm Frank Denby, by the way, and I'd been working again with Groucho on a proposed new radio show. Before I became a scriptwriter, I was a crime reporter with the Los Angeles Times . I'm married to Jane Danner, the best-looking cartoonist in America. Even though Jane wasn't feeling exactly great that night, we decided to go to a large costume party at the enormous Seascape Pavilion over in Santa Monica. My wife was dressed as her mother's favorite author, Jane Austen, and I went as--feeling somewhat sheepish about it--the Shadow. Jane and I had been doing very well, and I was experiencing somethingthat came close to being happiness. Still I couldn't help thinking that this Halloween gathering, with its images of skeletons, ghosts, and death, was all too appropriate just now. The Second World War had officially started and was in full swing in Europe. Hitler had invaded Poland early last month; both England and France had then declared war on Germany. Meantime, the Soviet Union had signed a nonagression pact with Germany that put the two countries more or less on the same side. America was, so far, remaining neutral. But just about everybody, except the most dedicated isolationists, expected that would change, maybe before Christmas. What none of us was aware of that night was that most of the essential figures in our next murder case were attending that Halloween party. Among them were one of the murder victims, plus the murderer, the head of the Nazi spy ring, and our client. Let me explain who was giving this particular lavish Hollywood party and why Jane had convinced me it would be a good idea for us to accept the invitation. Our host was Warren Lockwood. He was one of the wealthiest men in Southern California and came darn close to being a Howard Hughes doppelganger. Enormously influential, eccentric, and notorious for his romancing of glamorous movie actresses, Lockwood owned the Warlock Pictures movie studio, as well as the Lockwood Aero aircraft factory and a controlling interest in the Amalgamated Radio Network. The Hollywood Molly radio show I was writing, based on Jane's hit newspaper comic strip, didn't air on Lockwood's radio network. But the new radio show I was working on with Groucho looked like it had a good chance of getting an Amalgamated slot. On top of which, my agent had been telling me I was probably going to get hired at Warlock Pictures to do a rewrite of the movie script for Ty-Gor and the Ivory Treasure. Jane was reiterating the above reasons, and a couple more, as we waited in the line of automobiles in front of the gleaming pavilion for an attendant to park our car. "To sum it up, Frank, kowtowing to Warren Lockwood right now couldn't hurt," she concluded. "Besides, Groucho'll be there too." I glanced out at the fog that was drifting in across the dark Pacific Ocean. "It's just that it might be too much of a strain for you." "I can stand spending a few hours around Groucho." "C'mon, I mean that in your condition, the physical stress and--" "Hey, this isn't the Olympics," she pointed out. "And I'm only three-months pregnant, remember?"     T he fans who were lined up outside the big bright-lit glass and wrought-iron building were scrutinizing the occupants of the slowly moving cars. "There's Carole Lombard!" somebody shouted out in the night. "Like hell it is!" "Sure, that's her dressed up like Joan of Arc." "Naw, Lombard'd never do anything that dumb." When the scarlet-coated parking guy came around to my side of our Ford sedan, I asked Jane, "You're sure you're up to going to this shindig?" "Absolutely. I'm fine. So relax." Smiling, she opened her own door and stepped out into the misty evening. "Who's she?" cried a roped-off fan. "She's nobody," shouted another. Joining my wife and taking her arm, I told them, "That's all you know."     D uring most of the first half hour or so, I devoted myself to fetching a glass of ginger ale for Jane, whom I'd left sitting in one of the many alcoves overlooking the Santa Monica beach and the misty night ocean. The Seascape Pavilion was a huge dome-ceilinged place, a cross between the Crystal Palace and a zeppelin hangar. The vast dance floor was ebony hued bordered by walkways of turquoise tile. There was already a crowd of over three hundred colorfully costumed people, the great and near-great of Hollywood, filling the place. On the bandstand at the left, Warren Sattler and His Kings of Swingwere playing. He'd had a fairly successful cover record of "I'll Never Smile Again" and the band was playing that as I worked my way through the luminaries of the movie colony plus a large assortment of the usual fringe people. I was easing my way toward the nearest bar and also hoping to spot Groucho in the crowd. I thought I saw him once, but it turned out to be, I'm fairly sure, his brother Harpo in a Groucho outfit. I encountered a few actors and actresses I knew. Chester Morris, decked out as Henry the Eighth, stepped on the edge of my Shadow cape. He apologized and added, "We ought to do another radio show, kid." Somebody goosed me, and I turned to see Carole Lombard, who was indeed in a Joan of Arc costume. Richard Dix, who'd been one of my idols in my youth, was dressed as a Royal Canadian mountie and already unsteady on his feet. He gestured with the hand holding his bourbon and water, asking, "Have you ever seen such a gathering of assholes?" I answered, "Often, alas," and pushed onward. Looming up ahead of me in the costumed crowd was Larry Shell, a photographer who was still with the L.A. Times . He was wearing one of his usual rumpled gray suits and, as a concession to the occasion, a lopsided pirate hat. He raised his camera and snapped a picture of a redheaded starlet in a hula skirt. Standing next to her, one thick hand on her arm, was Jack O'Banyon. Actor and amateur fascist, O'Banyon had organized a group of sympathetic cronies a couple years back and dubbed it O'Banyon's Silver Shirt Brigade. Dressing up in specially tailored uniforms, the gang practiced military drills and rode horses in mock cavalry exercises. Sort of storm troopers on horseback. O'Banyon, a wide, thickset man about six-foot-one, was wearing a Silver Shirt Brigade uniform that night. It consisted, as might be expected, of a silver shirt, black jodhpurs and boots, and a crimson armband that displayed a Maltese cross in a white circle. Groucho and I had had a run-in with the guy while we were investigating the Sherlock Holmes murder case. As I got closer, I heard the bulky actor saying to Shell, "Hey, pansy,didn't you hear what I said? No pictures of me and my girl." "Hey, this is still a democracy, Jack, and I'm free to--" "Give me the goddamn camera, Shell." The actor let go of the hula girl to hold out a hand. Like several of the other guests, he'd had a head start on his boozing. I pushed toward them. "Back off, O'Banyon, and forget about it," I advised. He scowled at me. "Oh, it's the extra Marx Brother. The honorary Hebrew boy," the thickset actor said with an uncordial smile. "Keep your nose out of my damn business, Denby." Shell grinned at me. "Hi, Frank," he said, lowering his camera. "If you're the Shadow, aren't you supposed to be invisible?" "It comes and it goes, Larry. How've you--" "Hey, you two bastards," cut in the Silver Shirt, "I want that frigging camera right now." "Fellows, this is a party, and everybody has to get along." Ronald Reagan, dressed as a cowboy, had left the side of his fiancée, Jane Wyman, and stepped between O'Banyon and us. Lowering his voice, O'Banyon leaned close to the Warner actor. "Listen, Ronnie, I don't want any pictures of me and this particular dame printed anyplace. So I've got to have--" "Larry and the Times won't run any pictures that'll bother you, Jack," Reagan told him, glancing back over his shoulder at Shell. "Isn't that so, Larry?" "Hell, I was planning to crop the son of a bitch out of it anyhow," the photographer said. "Now he's calling me names and--" "Fellows, let's have a truce," advised Reagan, pushing up the brim of his tan Stetson with his thumb. "You and Miss Truett go one way, Jack, and Larry and his friend will go another. Okay?" After mumbling for a few seconds, O'Banyon grabbed his date's arm and moved away. "Thanks, Ronnie," said Shell. "That was very diplomatically handled." "I seem to have a gift for this sort of thing," he admitted, smiling. "And I'm really not fond of these uniformed bullies." He returned to Jane Wyman. "Thank you, too, Frank. I think I could've handled O'Banyon, but I appreciate your support," Shell said. "And how's Jane?" "Expecting." "Boy, that's swell. Keep in mind, by the way when it comes to picking a name, 'Larry' is a lot snappier than 'Groucho.'" He glanced around. "Lot of rival camera guys here tonight, so I better be mushing on. See you around, buddy." I continued my journey toward the bar. Dashiell Hammett, whom I'd met once, seemed to be in civilian clothes. Maybe he'd come as his own Thin Man, but I couldn't ask him. He was passed out at the bar, slumped on a stool with his gray head resting next to an abalone-shell ashtray. The fellow standing next to me while I waited for Jane's ginger ale and a Regal Pale beer for myself was dressed as some sort of Egyptian god. I was fairly certain he was Boris Karloff, but he might've been George Zucco. Because of the jackal-head mask, it was tough to tell. Myrna Loy bumped into me as I was struggling my way back to Jane, and a little of the hard-won ginger ale went splashing out of the glass and onto my dark cloak. Groucho had introduced me to her at a party a couple years back, but it was obvious she had no recollection of that. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry," she apologized. "That's okay," I said. "Who're you supposed to be, by the way?" "I'm not at all sure. I ordered Maid Marian, but they sent this by mistake. Any ideas?" "Madame Curie?" "Not with this plunging neckline, no. And you're supposed to be?" "The Shadow." She nodded, smiled, said, "How charming," and moved on. I noticed Dinah Flanders just after that, but had no premonition that I'd soon be entangled in her life. A strawberry blonde, she was a discoveryof Warren Lockwood's and, at the moment, the most popular and successful star that Warlock Pictures had. Her latest movie, This Dame Is Dynamite , had been a box-office smash earlier in the year, and she was at work on a new one, tentatively titled She Sure Did . That night she was dressed, even though she wasn't carrying a head on a platter, as Salome. About five months ago, with considerable attention from all the newspapers, wire services, and movie-fan magazines, Dinah had married director Eric Olmstead. A Britisher, he'd come to the States in 1937, after directing a couple of very successful films in England. There was talk he might soon be working on a big-budget movie with his wife. A lean, balding man in his early forties, he was dressed as Sinbad the Sailor. When I worked my way around the couple, they seemed to be having a quiet disagreement. "You really ought to go home, Eric," the actress was urging. "No, I'm perfectly all right, darling. I assure you." "If you aren't careful, kiddo, you'll ..." I pushed forward into the crowd and didn't overhear anything further. Up close the director had looked very pale. "Glad you could make it, Frank, old man." Warren Lockwood was standing in my path, grinning. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man in his late thirties, handsome in a somewhat weather-beaten way. It was news to me that he knew me by sight, since we'd never met and the invitation had been sent out by his staff. "Good evening, happy Halloween," I said. "Very nice party. Cozy." He shrugged. "Too many assholes in attendance, but that's the way it goes in Hollywood." "So I hear." "And I'm sure a lot of them have contagious diseases, but you have to risk that once in a while. I understand you're doing a swell job with the Hollywood Molly radio show, Frank. Is the lovely Jane here with you?" "I left her over yonder. I'm on my way to--" "Give her my best. Very charming young lady, and such a terrificartist. I'm thinking of starting a newspaper syndicate of my own, and I may see if we can buy up her contract. I wanted to be a cartoonist myself, but I got sidetracked." "It usually doesn't pay as much as you're--" "Oh, and talk to Bob Wiener at Warlock about rewriting that lousy Ty-Gor script. What we have now is a piece of crap. We can use some humor, and see what you can do about the damn elephants. Oh, and we--" A very languid Julius Caesar had pushed up to us and taken hold of Lockwood's arm. It was the director Jason Smollet, lean, in his fifties, not more than five-foot-five. He was accompanied by a very handsome, very suntanned blond young man who was apparently impersonating Puck. Earlier in the thirties Smollet had had great success with a string of lavish historical epics in the Cecil B. DeMille manner, among them Rendezvous in Vienna and My Lady Greensleeves. Lately, though, he'd slipped some and his most recent film, released nearly a year ago, was a Columbia B movie called Bride of Satan . Making an excuse-me gesture in my direction, Lockwood shook free of the director's grasp. "You're looking well, Jason." Smollet laughed, very briefly. "I can assure you, Warren, that I am not feeling well," he said. "Truth to tell, I'm feeling rather lousy." "Sorry to hear that. Maybe you should've stayed home and--" "I'm feeling bad, Warren dear, not because of any illness," Smollet told him, "but, rather, because you seem to have betrayed me." "He double-crossed you, for Christ sake," said the handsome Puck. "Hush, Rudy," advised the angry director. "I'm perfectly capable of handling my own--" "How, exactly, did I betray you, Jason?" "You promised me, not three months since, that I'd direct the epic you were planning to do with Robert Taylor." "We've been having trouble with MGM about loaning Taylor out to us," said Lockwood. "Soon as we iron out certain--" "Oh, really, Warren dear? I'm not, you know, some pea-brained little starlet you're trying to lay on your casting couch," cut in Smollet."I can't be screwed with an obvious line of bull." His voice, growing angrier, was also rising. "We can take this up in a few days, Jason. Make an appointment to--" "Such an obvious stall is beneath you, Warren dear. I was just talking to George Cukor over by the bar, and he tells me that Louis Mayer has already agreed to loan you Bob Taylor." "George is a fine director, but he tends to exaggerate." "He also, being a dear friend of mine," continued the angered director, "informed me that you're offering the picture to that pudding-faced Limey, Eric Olmstead." "Not at all true. And now I really have--" "Just because you used to sleep with Dinah Flanders is no reason to give this project to that talentless husband of hers." Very quietly and evenly Lockwood said, "We'll drop this for now, Jason." The handsome blond, Rudy, said, "There's Olmstead over there near Patsy Kelly." "Splendid, Rudy. I'll go thrash this out with Olmstead here and now." Smollet turned away. "He's a mediocre director, but a fairly honest man. He'll tell me the truth." Lockwood warned, "I don't want one of your tantrums at my party, Jason." Adjusting his laurel wreath, Smollet glanced over his narrow shoulder. "I won't go beyond a snit, Warren dear," he promised as he and Puck left us. "I suppose I should've told him I have no intention of ever hiring him for a damn thing," said Lockwood. "Probably not the right occasion," I said. "Oh, and if you bump into Groucho, mention to him that I like that idea you boys have for a radio show. I think that's going to work for us." He grinned, patted me on the arm, and surged into the crowd. He was the tallest Napoleon I'd run into thus far. As I drew closer to the vicinity of my wife, I had to ease around anactress I didn't quite recognize and a slim young man she seemed to be pleading with. She was dressed as Martha Washington, and he was wearing white tie and tails, a top hat, and a black cape. Him I recognized as Will Blackburn, a very popular and successful Hollywood psychic just then, and I thought he was probably dressed as Mandrake the Magician. He had a Mandrake moustache, but also a goatee. Could be it was his own facial hair. The actress was clutching both of Blackburn's arms just above the elbows. "C'mon, Will darling, you can surely tell me that much. Shall I take the damned part or not?" "This is my day off," he said, smiling. "No predictions." "But I have to let my agent know by tomorrow afternoon." "I can fit you in for a reading at eleven A.M.," the psychic offered. "That's the best I can do." "Can't you at least give a little hint as to ..." I moved beyond hearing range. When I reached my wife at long last, I found Groucho sitting at her feet smoking a cigar. "Good evening, Julius," I said. "Rollo," he said, popping to his feet, "do you realize what a grave injustice has been done to me?" I handed Jane the glass of ginger ale. "There was more when I left the bar." Taking the drink, she said, "Groucho's been grieving because Lockwood didn't ask him to bring his guitar and sing tonight." "My guitar wasn't invited," he confirmed, exhaling smoke. "And my horse was ignored as well." "You don't have a horse," I reminded him, moving closer to Jane and putting my free hand on her shoulder. "They're not getting off that easy. I know a snub when I see one," Groucho said. "In fact, I know a shrub when I see one, which makes me just awfully popular in horticultural circles." I attempted to lure him onto a different topic. "What's your costume meant to be?" "I'm Abraham Lincoln, obviously." Though he had applied thegreasepaint moustache he used in his movies, there was no Lincolnesque beard in evidence. Instead of a stovepipe hat, he was wearing one of his old Captain Spaulding pith helmets. And over the shoulders of his tweedy autumnal sport coat, he had thrown a shawl. "You don't look much like Abe Lincoln." "Neither did Abe Lincoln." "He never, for instance, wore a pith helmet." "He never happened to wear one when there were photographers around, true," admitted Groucho. "But he was often seen with a shawl very much like this one draped over his careworn shoulders." "I doubt Lincoln's shawl had "Souvenir of Youngstown, Ohio" embroidered across--" "As a chap who's gotten himself tarted up to resemble a potential pallbearer for Orson Welles, you're in no position to cast aspersions," Groucho informed me. "We might allow you to cast a few nasturtiums later in the evening, however, so stick around." "I just encountered Lockwood and--" "That poltroon. He invites Ted Timberlake, Warlock Pictures' answer to Gene Autry, to yodel some ditties from his cow operas and plunk his guitar at tonight's festivities. Yet he misses the golden opportunity of having the man who's known far and wide as the Kosher Segovia to--" "Timberlake happens to be a very hot singing cowboy right now, Groucho, and Warlock is promoting the guy," I cut in to remind him. "And lots of people, as inexplicable as it may seem, like cowboy tunes more than they like Gilbert and Sullivan." "I wasn't planning to render my popular medley of ditties from The Mikado," he informed me. "I would've favored the throng with 'Lydia the Tattooed Lady' the hit tune from our new Marx Brothers movie. I understand it's been climbing on the Hit Parade charts. At the same time I myself have been climbing a greased pole." "How's At the Circus doing at the box office?" Jane asked. The film had opened nationwide about two weeks earlier. "MGM won't tell us, but the last time Chico drove by the studio, he noticed they'd hung black crepe on all the gates," he answered."And I hear that Louis B. Mayer is planning to replace their Leo the Lion mascot with Leo the Turkey." Jane suggested, after sipping her ginger ale, "Maybe Ted Timberlake will loan you his guitar after he's finished performing, and you can--" "Would you ask Rubinstein to play on a piano loaned to him by Frankie Carle?" I remembered to sample my beer. "Despite the fact that Lockwood hasn't availed himself of your musical services," I said, "he sure seems favorably inclined toward us. I think we've got a hell of a good chance of selling our show to his Amalgamated Radio Network, Groucho." "And why not, might I ask, since Groucho Marx, Secret Agent is the most brilliant comedy show to come along since Kay Kayser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge?" He turned toward Jane. "Have you read your hubby's script of our planned new show, my dear?" "Twice." "And what is your humble opinion of same?" "I honestly think it might even be a shade funnier than Kay Kayser." "Exactly. And it's guaranteed not to give you dishpan hands." A Los Angeles advertising agency had approached Groucho with the notion of doing another radio show. Since we'd worked together on a couple of earlier ones, including Groucho Marx, Master Detective, he'd brought me in on the new project. Groucho would be playing J. Edgar Bedspread, undercover man, and so far we had Margaret Dumont lined up to play an over-the-hill spy named Mata Herring, and Hans Conreid was going to portray a foreign agent named Herman Boring. Everybody had been very enthusiastic about my sample script, and we were set to cut a demonstration acetate early in November. Groucho noticed a tall, lanky fellow go walking by, spurs jingling. He was wearing a high-crown black Stetson and a fringed movie-cowboy outfit. "Can that be Timberlake, the noted musical sodbuster of whom we were recently speaking?" he inquired, eyes narrowing. "If I accidentally stepped on his strumming hand, do you think--" "Relax, Groucho," I said, recognizing the guy. "That's only Les Michaelson, Timberlake's stunt double." "No use incapacitating the fellow then." Gesturing again at the costurnedcrowd, Groucho asked, "Would, do you think, a cinemactress of the stature of Paulette Goddard attend such a brawl as this in the guise of Little Bo Beep?" "Is this a rhetorical question?" Using his cigar as a pointer, he said, "That young miss over there looks very much like the lady in question. And in a moment of madness I do believe that I promised her a dance." He bowed toward my seated wife. "If you'll excuse me, Lady Jane." As he went loping in the direction of the potential Paulette, he bumped into a guest who was in the costume of the Grim Reaper. Black cloak and cowl, scythe, skull mask. I had no idea who it was under all that. "Not ready yet, old boy," Groucho told Death, and continued on his way toward Little Bo Beep. Apparently it wasn't Paulette Goddard, but she and Groucho danced anyway. The swing orchestra was playing "Three Little Fishes." A few moments later, just after a Satan had danced by with Mary Astor, Jane reached up and took hold of my hand. "This is sort of odd," she said quietly. I leaned closer. "Something wrong?" "Well, I don't know why I should be experiencing morning sickness at this time of the night ... but, I'm sorry, I'm feeling kind of rotten all of a sudden, Frank." "Okay, we'll get you home." "You can stay, and I'll send for a cab to--" "Nope, ma'am, where I come from an hombre always escorts the filly he brung back safe to her spread," I assured her. "You sure this is nothing serious?" Standing up, she smiled at me. "I'll be fine, but just now I think I best head for home." "C'mon," I said, putting an arm around her slim shoulders and guiding her toward a doorway. As we stood out in the foggy night waiting for our car, Jane shivered. "That was all very spooky," she said. "As it should be. Halloween is noted for being a spooky occasion." "No, it's something else." She shook her head. "There was a grim feeling in the air." "You think maybe being pregnant is making you psychic?" "It's a possibility," she answered as the attendant delivered our car. "All I know is, I have this feeling something unpleasant is going to happen in there." "Gosh, and we're going to miss it," I said, opening her door for her and then walking around to the driver's seat. It turned out Jane was pretty much right. GROUCHO MARX, SECRET AGENT. Copyright (c) 2002 by Groucho Marx Productions Inc. and Ron Goulart. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010. Excerpted from Secret Agent by Ron Goulart All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.