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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Glass Mask

cover image By: Offord, Lenore (female)
Publisher: Dell Publishing Co. (198)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 344: PS3529 .F467 G53 1944
Contributor: S. Sechrest


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Lenore Offord Geographic Locale: Valleyville, California (fictional small town in the Sacramento valley) Date of Publication: 1944  |  Original Date: 1944 Setting: small town Motives: greed over family fortune leads to murder

Plot Summary

Nella Peabody asks pulp mystery writer Todd McKinnon to prove her absent soldier husband Gilbert innocent of his wealthy Aunt Adeline's murder which took place four years earlier. Her death was supposedly due to natural causes, but gossip in their small town has branded Gilbert a poisoner. Todd is on a holiday with his fiance Georgine Wyeth and her daughter Barby. They are invited to stay in the old Victorian mansion Gilbert inherited from his aunt. Todd and Georgine interview the other relatives and the aunt's doctor and nurse. While there, they also plan a quiet wartime wedding. Barby is menaced by someone looking for the aunt's jewels in the attic. Todd gathers all the suspects together and gets Horace Tilsit to confess to his great-aunt's murder. Todd cannot prove his case, but the town will know who the real killer is. Todd and Georgine marry and return to San Francisco.

Major Characters

Todd McKinnon adult male, slim, mustache, draft classification 4-F due to a bad lung, crime writer for a pulp fiction magazine

Horace Tilsit adult male, tall, blonde, wears glasses, druggist

Adeline Tilsit adult female, elderly, stroke victim, used a cane, independently wealthy

Nella Peabody adult female, attractive, nervous, has a heart condition, married to Gilbert Peabody, housewife and landlady

Susan Labare adult female, tall, gaunt, white-haired, practical nurse

Mary Helen Crane adult female, not pretty but attracts attention, animated, great-niece of victim, doctor's ex-wife, real estate agent

Georgine Wyeth adult female, attractive, widowed, engaged to detective
Barbary Wyeth "Barby," child, female, 8 years old, asthmatic

Theron Tilsit "The Judge," adult male, elderly, wrinkled, bent, autocratic, victim's brother

John Crane adult male, tired, graying, ex-husband of Mary Helen, physician

Gilbert Peabody adult male, tall, thin, balding, photographer, serves overseas in the Army


poison, prescription sedative

Level of Violence

it is implied that an old woman was poisoned. Someone runs down the stairs and knocks Todd down. A child is put in a garment bag and menaced (by threatening to drop a heavy headboard on her) but she is uninjured.


the only sexual activity consists of heterosexual kissing between Todd and Georgine. It is made clear that they are waiting for marriage. It is stated that Horace has a married mistress.

Gender Roles

traditional; the judge tries to start a rumor that Todd and Georgine have an illicit relationship.


none evident

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

social drinking; murder is caused by an overdose of a prescription sedative. It is hinted that an earlier death might have been a mercy killing caused by the same medicine.

Law Enforcement

local police; Todd befriends a local officer who lets them leave town when the Judge tries to get them arrested.

Added Features

Todd prepares plot outlines implicating each suspect. Excellent World War II homefront atmosphere -- rationing, domestic life, etc.

Subject Headings

Greed/ Murder/ California

Psychological Elements

anxiety; Nella Peabody is worried about her husband and troubled by odd noises in the attic. Her nervous condition aggravates her heart condition.