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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Knocked For a Loop

cover image By: Rice, Craig (pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig) (female)
Publisher: Pocket Books (1215) - 1st printing
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 360: PS3535 .I2217 K6 1958
Contributor: E. Griffin


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Craig Rice Geographic Locale: Chicago, Illinois Date of Publication: 1958  |  Original Date: 1957 Setting: urban Motives: theft, blackmail Alternate Title: The Double Frame

Plot Summary

Chicago lawyer John J. Malone finds himself framed for the murder of anti-crime crusader Leonard Estapoole and implicated in the kidnapping of Estapoole's stepdaughter Alberta Commanday. While trying to find the real murderer, or at least clear his name, Malone is befriended by ex-chorus girl Tommie Storm and aided by crime boss Max Hook. Things get more complicated when Malone's old friend Jake Justus reports that his wife Helene has gone missing after rushing to Chicago to visit the Estapooles, an affable but complex combined family full of suspects. Malone's efforts to solve the case are further complicated by a kidnap victim who insists on staying kidnapped and a second murder. Along the way, he falls for a "thoroughly nice" girl and manages - barely - to keep himself and his friends out of jail.

Major Characters

John J. Malone adult male, short, dark, messy, lawyer

Frank McGinniss adult male, dark, handsome, apparently a small-time crook

Jane Estapoole adult female, petite, brown hair, occupation not given

Leonard Estapoole middle-aged male, thin, ascetic-looking, financier and anti-crime crusader

Antonio (Tony) Clancy aka Art Medinica, adult male, chauffeur, crook

Jake Justus adult male, publicity agent

Helene Justus adult female, blonde, beautiful, publicity agent and socialite

Daniel von Flanagan adult male, police officer, head of the homicide squad

Bernice ("Tommy") Storm adult female, blonde, beautiful, ex-chorus girl, private secretary


blunt objects, specifically a bronze Buddha and a brass statue

Level of Violence

fairly mild despite two murders by bludgeoning. Descriptions are implied and brief.


references to promiscuity and adultery, but no explicit sexual content

Gender Roles



not a factor

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

frequent and excessive social drinking

Law Enforcement

the local police, represented by von Flanagan, serve mostly as an obstacle to Malone's sleuthing.

Added Features

humor; written in a breezy, humorous style

Subject Headings

Kidnapping/ Blackmail/ Murder/ Alcohol/ Police/ Wealth/ Murder/ Illinois - Chicago/ Law and Lawyers

Psychological Elements

substance abuse - Malone drinks heavily and often, but the novel treats this as a character quirk rather than a problem.