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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Corpse Moved Upstairs

cover image By: Gruber, Frank (male)
Publisher: Belmont Productions, Inc.
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 261: PS3513 .R866 C67 1964
Contributor: C. Bellinger


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Frank Gruber Geographic Locale: New York, NY and Iowa Date of Publication: 1964  |  Original Date: 1942 Setting: urban (Times Square, New York City) and rural (Waterloo, Waverly and Shellrock, Iowa) Motives: theft of the rights to the most popular comic book in the United States Alternate Title: The Mighty Blockhead

Plot Summary

Johnny Fletcher and his sidekick Sam Cragg arrive at the 45th Street Hotel in New York City's Times Square to find a body in their trunk in their room. They are soon involved with a mystery involving the rights to The Mighty Blockhead, the most successful comic book in America, partly due to Sam's uncanny resemblance to the title character. The clues lead them from the publishing houses of New York to rural Iowa in their rush to solve the mystery and save the lovely Jill Thayer. Familiar characters include Mr. Peabody, the hotel manager and Lieutenant Madigan who act as foils for Johnny's quick wit and snappy repartee.

Major Characters

Johnny Fletcher adult male, physically fit but not large, travelling salesman selling bodybuilding books

Sam Cragg adult male, strong, travelling salesman, Johnny Fletcher's assistant and sidekick

Ken Ballinger adult male, cartoonist

Ned Lester adult male, middle-aged, roadhouse operator

Dan Murphy adult male, burlesque house manager, former comic book publisher

Matt Royce adult male, middle-aged, comic book publisher

Egbert Craddock adult male, middle-aged, cartoonist

Jill Thayer adult female, cartoonist

Harry Hale adult male, comic book editor

Lieutenant Madigan adult male, middle-aged, police detective


guns, fists

Level of Violence

one gunfight in which one person is wounded; an attempted shooting, one major brawl; two attempted fistfights


heterosexual kissing, some comments about the attractiveness of specific women; limited description, almost none at all

Gender Roles

traditional; there is one scene that takes place in a burlesque house, but there is no description of the strip tease act.


there is one remark about "Japs."

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

some of the action occurs in bars and at a party where there is drinking. One character is constantly drunk.

Subject Headings

New York (N.Y.)/ Sales personnel and selling/ Swindlers and swindling/ Publishers and publishing/ Iowa