A woman, Carrie Sloan, runs down the street and pauses for breath. She glances down at a circus poster of a clown on the sidewalk, and runs on. Carrie comes to another poster of the same clown, mounted on a wall and startles in terror. A man wearing a clown mask and gloves grabs her throat and Carrie screams.
Yancy and Pahoo are walking down the street when they hear the scream. They run over and find the woman stabbed to death. Dr. Frank Bishop comes by and Pahoo escorts him over. Carrie is alive, but her attacker cut a hank of her hair off. Frank checks her and confirms that Carrie is beaten but okay. They take her to Francine's
At a private room in the club, Frank makes sure that Carrie is okay. Yancy tells him that Carrie can stay the night, and notes out that Frank just happened to be there at the right time. Frank says that he was on his way home after a call, but admits that it was lucky. When Francine complains that it's the fifth attack and they haven't caught the Clown yet, Frank points out that the administrator puts up with all of the other sins, including gambling. She takes offense and Yancy offers to buy her a drink, but Francine insists on staying with Carrie.
The next night, Bart Ogilvie, leader of the Freedom League, is riling up the citizens to go out and hunt down the Clown. He insists that the League will guard the streets and make them safe. Yancy and Pahoo watch from the back and then walk off. Bart's wife Karen comes over and invites Yancy to join the League. Frank joins them and says that he believes in the League's goals. Meanwhile, Bart demands that they get rid of John and then comes over to join them. When he asks what Yancy thought of his speech, Yancy abruptly leaves without comment.
Yancy and Pahoo go to the club and the girls all sigh in relief when they see Yancy. Francine admits that she had to shut down the club, and insists on the girls staying there for the night. Yancy accepts her offer to stay the night, and they go to their rooms. Later, one of the girls comes down for a glass of water and Pahoo draws on her until Yancy confirms who she is.
Francine is preparing for the night when the Clown breaks into her room and cuts off a hank of her hair. When she screams, Yancy and Pahoo hear her and run upstairs. When they run into the room, they discover that the Clown has escaped out the window and Francine is unconscious from being beaten. He tells Pahoo that now they'll kill.
Later, Yancy meets with John, who insists that they have dedicated all of their resources to finding the Clown. He's asked Yancy there to find the killer, and Yancy figures that each girl has been victimized after a story appeared about her in the paper. There was no story about Francine, and Yancy figures that the attack was a warning. They figure the next victim will be a woman in the public eye, and Madame Alma Hauptman, a touring European opera singer, will be the target.
As Yancy leaves for the opera house, Fry brings Bart and Karin in. Bart demands John's resignation on the grounds of inefficiency and fraud. He insists that John isn't doing anything about the Clown, and says that he's from Providence, RI, but now a proud citizen of New Orleans. Bart figures that John consorts with gamblers criminals. Fry calls Bart a liar, and John tells the Ogilvies that he's not going to resign. He explains that he's only answerable to the President and the Secretary of War. Bart says that they are already in touch with the War Department and leaves with his wife. Fry then tells John that there is no news about the Clown.
Later at the opera house, everyone takes in Hauptman's performance. She receives a standing ovation, but doesn't come out for a third bow despite the applause. Yancy goes backstage where Pahoo and Fry are standing guard. Fry says that Hauptman is in her dressing room, but there's no answer when they knock. The three men go in but there's no sign of Hauptman and her bouquet is on the floor. A clown mask is on the changing screen, and Fry insists that Hauptman never came out. Searching the room, Pahoo finds a wig... and Yancy finds an unconscious Hauptman strung up behind the dresses.
Frank arrives and tends to Hauptman. Outside, he tells John that Hauptman will be all right... no thanks to her protectors. Yancy asks how he happened to be there, and Frank says that he's been the opera house's doctor for three years. Once he leaves, John is relieved that no one has been killed. Yancy warns him not to push his luck. A telegram comes from DC for John. He tells the others that he's been summoned to DC, and leaves the matter in Fry's hands. Fry says that he'll contact Yancy later, and John warns that he may not be back. Yancy assures him that he will and John thanks him for his support.
Yancy and Pahoo go to the club and Yancy summons New Orleans' major criminals: Foxy McClure, Sneaky Joe, Mother Snitch, and Mumbles Bailey. He says that the Clown is working for the League, and if they take over then it will eliminate the criminals as well. They agree, and Yancy asks them to check with their contacts and find out anything that they can about the Clown. Bart and his men shove their way in, and Bart says that they're the new law. When Francine objects, a fight breaks out. Yancy, Pahoo, and Mumbles soon take down the League. Fry and his men arrive and arrests the League members.
The next night, Karin takes over for her injured husband and calls a League meeting at the opera house. She says that Bart was injured by the same criminals who control New Orleans, and rouses the members to replace John. Karin receives a letter and steps off-stage, and Yancy and Pahoo toss a blanket over Karin's head. She assumes that it's one man and tells him to stop it. As they take her away, Frank comes backstage looking for Karin but finds no one.
Yancy and Pahoo take Karin to the club and lock her in Francine's bedroom. They figure that she'll be the Clown's next victim, and Yancy leaves Pahoo there to guard the woman. Meanwhile, the Clown enters Francine's bedroom. Karin assumes that it's Frank and complains that he took long enough to get there. She removes the mask... and discovers that it's Yancy. He explains that Karin words at the opera house indicated she wasn't afraid. Yancy figures that Karin runs the entire show with Frank and Bart helping her. Karin invites Yancy to join them, and he says that he ought to kill her.
Bart breaks in, gun drawn, and orders Yancy to come with them. They go to the stairs, and Frank and three League members are waiting downstairs with a torch to burn the place. Yancy shoots Bart and leaps on Frank, the torch falling into the drapes. Pahoo comes out and helps Yancy against the three men. Francine shoots one man, and Fry arrives and shoots the other. After Yancy tosses Frank out the window and Fry's men put out the fire, John comes in and tells Yancy that his trip to DC doesn't seem necessary.
Written by Gadfly on May 11, 2017