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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Kiss Tomorrow Good-Bye

cover image By: McCoy, Horace (male)
Publisher: New American Library (Signet Books 754)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 327: PS3525 .A1715 K57 1949
Contributor: J. Lukin


Era: 1930s Author as on Cover: Horace McCoy Geographic Locale: fictional; a small unnamed city in middle America Date of Publication: 1949  |  Original Date: 1948 Setting: small town; wide-ranging, from a prison farm to an apartment in the slums to a gay bar to an exclusive country club Motives: robbery, often necessitating murder

Plot Summary

Arrogant, university-educated "Ralph Cotter" (we ultimately learn that his real name is Apperson) busts out of prison and sets out to resume his criminal career in a small city with the help of his moll and the man who rented him a getaway car. Initially hoping to steal a few bucks and head for a warm climate, Apperson quickly discovers that the level of corruption in the city is irresistible to an up-and-coming criminal psychopath such as himself. With his willingness to commit cold-blooded murder whenever necessary, he quickly gains the respect of a corrupt attorney and a number of evil policemen. Unfortunately, the psychosis that made him a criminal also makes him susceptible to an encounter with the wayward daughter of the city's most powerful businessman. This eccentric young woman arouses terrifying memories of the childhood trauma that turned Apperson bad. Her relentless pursuit finally forces him to confront the roots of his personality disorder, curing his criminal behavior and making him vulnerable to the vindictiveness of his unreconstructed former allies.

Major Characters

Apperson aka Ralph Cotter, aka Paul Murphy, adult male, tall, 30 years old, Phi Beta Kappa, proud of his intellect, career criminal

Holiday Tokowanda adult female, 20s, blonde, beautiful, professional criminal and seductress
Keith Mandon "Cherokee," adult male, middle-aged, 5 feet tall, big pointy eyebrows, flat nose, proud of being a shyster lawyer

Jinx Raynor aka Joseph Stockton, adult male, surly, thug

Vic Mason adult male, 40 years old, homosexual, club foot, blue eyes, rents and repairs cars for criminals

Charlie Webber adult male, late middle age, medium-small, steely-eyed, corrupt police inspector

Lieutenant Oliver Reece aka George, adult male, medium-sized, corrupt and lecherous, police officer

Ben Downey adult male, a cop with a gay partner

Mildred Dobson aka Midge, aka Margaret, adult female, 20s, pale black-haired beauty, interested in theosophy (today's "new Age"), living on her family's spectacular wealth

Ezra Dobson adult male, 60 years old, big, bald, aristocratic, ex-politician, multimillionaire industrialist

Level of Violence

seven people are shot to death with automatics, an unknown number are machine-gunned, two are killed with blows to the head, four are robbed at gunpoint, one is slapped around. Violence is usually described with interest and enjoyment.


narrator Apperson recounts sexual relations by descending into grandiose purple prose, then fading out with ellipses.... The two women in the novel are presented as sexually promiscuous. The narrator is tolerant of homosexuals (if they don't come on to him), but only because he realizes that his own rebellion against societal standards involves sexual "pathology."

Gender Roles

both women depicted are spoiled and accustomed to manipulating men, one with sex and the other with money. Apperson's initial trauma involved a punitive woman. The gay men who play a role in the plot are presented as less tough than the straight characters.


the narrator feels that the lawyer's black manservant is insufficiently obsequious and that the Native American lawyer is awfully ugly.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

some social and celebratory drinking occurs.

Law Enforcement

no laws are enforced. The police and prison guards are as corrupt as the novel's professional criminals but less courageous.

Subject Headings

Crime and criminals/ Prisoners and prisons/ Murder/ Homosexuality/ Personality disorders/ Hallucinations and illusions/ Robbery/ Police

Psychological Elements

in the era of the novel, homosexuality (an orientation which four significant characters possess) would have been seen as a psychological disorder. Margaret Dobson's fascination with the occult is viewed by her family as a threat to her mental health. Holiday is prone to irrational, vindictive rages. Apperson is a writhing mass of psychoses: he suffers auditory and olfactory hallucinations, paranoia, megalomania, an exagerrated sense of disgust with others, and a bloodlust that surprises his fellow criminals. The novel's psychoanalytic assumptions attribute all these pathologies to a trauma involving sex and death that he suffered at about the age of eight.

Film Adaptations

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, 1950, Warner Brothers