Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Handle With Fear

cover image By: Dewey, Thomas B. (male)
Publisher: Graphic Publications
Place of Publication: Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Catalog #: Kelley Box 836: PS3507 .E883 H36 1954
Contributor: K. Klier


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Thomas B. Dewey Geographic Locale: Chicago, Illinois and areas located a few hours outside the city Date of Publication: 1954  |  Original Date: 1951 Setting: urban; with a concentration in the Italian sections of Chicago and the small town of Preston Motives: murder for money

Plot Summary

Joe Spinder, a resident of the Preston Hotel comes across Nick Andrews who has a suitcase with $250,000 and is being pursued. Nick's wife, Constancia, was recently murdered and now people are after him for the murder and for the money. After putting the money in the bank, Joe enlists the advice of Singer Batts, who is intrigued by Nick's situation. The three of them head to Chicago to help Nick, for the simple reason that they have nothing better to do. They soon get entangled in the murder of Nick's sister-in-law and an international crime boss who is interested in their search. After investigating every possible scenario, the truth is revealed by Singer back in the small town where it all started. Murder and violence culminate in a thrilling climax where the truth is finally revealed.

Major Characters

Joe Spinder adult male, 38 years old, intuitive, tough

Singer Batts adult male, Shakespeare scholar, humble, owner of the Preston Hotel

Nick Andrews adult male, 23 years old, black hair combed back, blue eyes, uses the alias Jay Perry

Marcella Cipriano adult female, blonde hair, early 20s, worked as a dice girl in a strip bar and at Mother Perri's Pizzeria

Angelo adult male, Italian, mid-20s, dark hair, works for Caesar Fortunata, uses knives, Marcella's boyfriend

Caesar Fortunata older adult male, Italian, gray hair, lives in an expensive penthouse and is part of the American division of an international crime organization

Pat McCreery adult male, private detective, used the alias Arch Whitney

Mr. Moynahan adult male, reddish-brown hair, looks Irish but has no accent, chief of Spark-EE Corp., a manufacturer of beverage patents

Mrs. Burton adult female, masquerades as a parlor maid

Big Red Brooks adult male, former welterweight boxer, red hair and beard, runs a working man's hotel, a fountain of useless information and often keeps notebooks of facts


guns, knives, and a rope for hanging

Level of Violence

characters are threatened with guns and knives, beatings, a few brief fight scenes, characters are kidnapped, shot and stabbed. A murder is made to look like a suicide. At the end of the novel, Singer says he's "sick of violence."


one scene takes place in a strip parlor where dice games are played

Gender Roles

the affairs mentioned were viewed as the fault of the women; both men and women are threatened equally towards the end.


most of the Italian characters have ties to some crime organization, but the stereotypical Mafia is mentioned only briefly.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

the characters often go to bars and drink; cigarettes are smoked during conversations and the police even offer Joe a cigarette while questioning him.

Law Enforcement

although the characters find evidence that the suicide was actually a murder, the Chicago police keep it a suicide. When the name Caesar Fortunata is mentioned, the police tend to do as he asks. In the end, the Preston town marshall detains those responsible for the murder.

Added Features

Chicago is described in great detail.

Subject Headings

Murder/ Illinois - Chicago/ Gangsters