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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Fourth Postman

cover image By: Rice, Craig (pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig) (female)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (651) - 1st printing
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 360: PS3535 .I2217 F6 1950
Contributor: S. Sechrest


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Craig Rice Geographic Locale: Chicago, Illinois Date of Publication: 1950  |  Original Date: 1948 Setting: urban; several scenes in and around the Fairfaxx household, Helene and Jake Justus' house, Malone's office and the Angel's City Hall bar Motives: murder, greed

Plot Summary

Rodney Fairfaxx, who is expecting but hasn't received a letter from his sweetheart (who has been dead for more than thirty years), is accused of murdering three postmen. His lawyer, John J. Malone, doesn't believe that to be a strong enough reason to kill, but he has no way to prove Rodney's innocence. And then a fourth postman arrives with a letter that solves the mystery and identifies the murderer.

Major Characters

Captain Daniel von Flanagan adult male, police officer

John J. Malone adult male, fast-talking and perpetually-drinking criminal lawyer who gets involved in detective work

Helene Justus adult female, beautiful, blonde heiress, friend of the Fairfaxxes

Jake Justus adult male, Helene's husband who comes down with the chicken pox

Rodney Fairfaxx adult male, gentle, wealthy eccentric, still expecting a letter from his sweetheart, lost at sea more than thirty years ago

Maggie adult female, Malone's long-suffering secretary

Bridie adult female, the Fairfaxx maid

Kenneth Fairfaxx adult male, Rodney's nephew and an heir to his fortune

Elizabeth Fairfaxx adult female, Rodney's beautiful niece

Violet adult female, housekeeper for the Fairfaxx family

Mrs. Abby Lacy adult female, unpleasant neighbor of the Fairfaxxes

Gay Lacy adult female, Mrs. Lacy's daughter, engaged to Kenneth Fairfaxx

Ernie Fairfaxx adult male, Rodney's half-brother

Glida adult female, mother of six twins

Dr. McSmith adult male, irate physician

Bob Allen adult male, actor, on whom Elizabeth Fairfaxx is sweet

Huntleigh adult male, devoted Lacy butler


hammer (brief description given in one case)

Level of Violence

minor; three people are killed, three more are injured


only romantic attachments, except that there is a slight hint that Huntleigh's devotion to Gay Lacy might be something more than a butler's devotion to the daughter of his master

Gender Roles

progressive; women enjoy an equal footing, although the protagonist is a man


none, although Malone is described as "the little Irish lawyer"

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

Malone is an incurable drinker, but the attitude toward alcohol is sympathetic. No drugs.

Law Enforcement

Captain von Flanagan is a policeman who doesn't always enjoy his job, but he is hard-working and straight

Subject Headings

Illinois - Chicago/ Law and Lawyers/ Murder