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The Key

Short Story (4,320 words)

The story is set in an unnamed country, presumably Yugoslavia. Jan Dorac has been arrested by Captain Sistrovic of the secret police and is being taken in handcuffs for interrogation and probable execution. The car they are travelling in breaks down, and they have to stay overnight in a peasant's hut. Dorac is a doctor, and Sistrovic is suffering from terrible toothache caused by an abscess. Can Dorac persuade the captain to let him pull the tooth, and can he use it as an opportunity to escape?

The story is one of several short story by-products of Canning's visit to Yugoslavia in 1949 to research the background of the novel A Forest of Eyes.

John Bull, 20 June 1953.
Reprinted in John Creasey's Mystery Magazine, vol 1, no. 1, 1956.

Included in the collection Italy and the Balkans, ed. John Higgins, 2010.