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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Having Wonderful Crime

cover image By: Rice, Craig (pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig) (female)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (289) - 4th printing
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 360: PS3535 .I2217 H2 1946
Contributor: S. Sechrest


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Craig Rice Geographic Locale: New York City Date of Publication: 1946  |  Original Date: 1943 Setting: urban; mostly the high rent parts of Manhattan Motives: greed, revenge, murder

Plot Summary

Chicagoans John J. Malone and Helene and Jake Justus are visiting New York City where they encounter a drunken bridegroom named Dennis Morrison. The next day, the decapitated body of a beautiful woman who is not the bride is found in the bridal suite. The victim is identified as model Gloria Garden by her father, Dr. Puckett. Malone is hired to find the missing bride, the wealthy Bertha Morrison, by her trustee, Abner Proudfoot. It's discovered that the head and the body belong to two different women. For their own reasons, Malone and the Justuses investigate the murders independently. They discover that Gloria was secretly married, Proudfoot is broke, and Dennis worked for a dubious escort service. Finally, they catch Dennis looking for his wife's head in Dr. Puckett's garden. The doctor shoots him in self defense. It is revealed that Morrison killed Bertha for her money and he killed Gloria to cover up their bigamous marriage. Malone covers up the fact that the doctor did the decapitations to revenge himself on Morrison.

Major Characters

John J. Malone adult male, middle-aged, short, stocky, black hair, blue eyes, small paunch, lawyer

Jake Justus adult male, big, bony, ungainly, blue eyes, red hair, freckles, nightclub owner, former reporter and press agent

Helene Justus adult female, beautiful, blonde, tall, long-legged, independently wealthy

Dennis Morrison adult male, dark hair, blue eyes, handsome, male escort

Dr. Puckett adult male, middle-aged, short, receding gray hair, glasses, friendly intelligent face, physician

Bertha Lutts Morrison adult female, round-faced, dull-looking, independently wealthy

Gloria Garden (ne Hazel Puckett) adult female, dyed blonde hair, beautiful, model

Abner Proudfoot adult male, middle-aged, tall, angular, gray hair, grim gray face, lawyer

Howard Lutts "Howie," adult male, homosexual, handsome, tall, dyed blonde hair, male escort

Wildavine Williams adult female, medium height, stringy brown hair, glasses, no makeup, bright-colored clothing, poet


hands (strangulation), knife, guns

Level of Violence

two women are strangled and decapitated before the story starts. A man is knifed, police shoot a criminal, a man is shot, a man is beaten up. Level of description: implied. Frequency: medium.


Dennis Morrison kills his bride, Bertha (who has married him to cover up her homosexuality), for her money. Bertha offers Wildavine money for sexual favors, but dies before she can collect. It is implied that Malone and Wildavine are intimate.

Gender Roles

traditional; sexist attitudes are not evident.


not evident

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

all three detectives drink heavily. Morrison gets drunk after he murders the two women.

Law Enforcement

Inspector Peterson of the New York Police Department works with the detectives some and takes the credit. Three lower-ranked policemen befriend Malone and get drunk with him.

Added Features

Jake Justus is trying to write a mystery and gets involved in the murder case to gain fame as a detective. Malone spends a lot of time comparing New York unfavorably to Chicago.

Subject Headings

Law and Lawyers/ New York (N.Y.)/ Revenge/ Murder