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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Draw the Curtain Close

By: Dewey, Thomas B. (male)
Publisher: New American Library (736)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 229: PS3507 .E883 D72 1949
Contributor: B. Battleson


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Thomas B. Dewey Geographic Locale: Chicago, Illinois Date of Publication: 1949  |  Original Date: 1947 Setting: urban; variety of dwellings and neighborhoods from a wealthy lakeside Warfield estate, the upper class gated Amberley Apartments complex, the urban, working class area of Chicago's North Side, and the seedy, dingy Crosley Arms Hotel Motives: murder, theft, stalking, kidnapping, greed, power

Plot Summary

What do you say to a man like Warfield when he offers you one thousand dollars plus $500 a week plus expenses? The job? To keep an eye on his wife, Cynthia, who's just walked out on him. She's in danger. He doesn't mention from whomIf you're Mac, the answer is "No." And on the way out you'll notice a slight breeze pass your cheek -- a breeze with a knife stuck through it. You'll pull the knife out of the door and return it to Warfield the length of the room, politely missing his heart, too -- just in case he's got one. But after Mac gets a look at Cynthia Warfield, it seems a lot easier to keep an eye on here than otherwise. With her around, the fact that someone is trying to rub him out is scarcely noticeable anyway. Also, the Gutenberg Bible belongs to her -- and it seems to be a lethal possession. Aside from the Bible, there's an Aztec jewel that's unaccounted for. There's also a nice little nest of sluggers around Marilyn Mayfair who try to render Mac unconscious whenever possible -- a hazardous job, at best. (From the dust jacket of the 1947 Jefferson House first edition).

Major Characters

Mac adult male, former police officer turned private investigator. He is "rugged, like a real man, someone a girl could really latch onto."

Scarpone Warfield adult male, formerly Luigi Scarpone, he is a stereotypical Mafia type. "He really looked like a man who owned half of the city and the people in it and had done the things you have to do to get to own them."

Cynthia Warfield adult female, Scarpone Warfield's wife. Her marriage to Warfield was arranged after she completed her education in a prestigious Eastern finishing school. She is dignified, knows the way she is expected to behave, and is aware of her "place." However, she is a strong woman whose actions surprise even Mac.

Marilyn Mayfair adult female, red-haired singer/dancer from the Mobile Club. She is Warfield's mistress, but resides at the Warfield Estate.

Alex adult male, Warfield's butler. Formerly a fighter in the 1920s, about 7 feet tall. "He was ugly enough, with his smashed nose, too frequently reset jaw and cauliflower ears, to scare the daylights out of anyone."

Lieutenant Donovan adult male, homicide detective for the police department. Stubborn but hard-working and very thorough. He was Mac's mentor when he served on the police force. Mac views Donovan as a father-figure.

"Crooked Nose" Burnett adult male, a thug who runs the Mobile Club at which Marilyn Mayfair is a performer. Burnett is searching for Chnthia Warfield, or rather, the very valuable book that belongs to her. His henchmen are "Lefty," Lou and Al.

Callahan adult male; one of Warfield's "boys" during the 1920s. "Big fellow. Pale face. Curly black hair. Handsome devil. Great ladies' man."

Herman Losche adult male; former professor of English at an Eastern finishing school where Cynthia Warfield was a student. He had fallen in love with her and followed her to Chicago, but had fallen on hard times, having become an alcoholic with a large gambling debt to Burnett.

Senor Garcia adult male; a large man of Mexican ethnicity. He is a mystery man who keeps turning up throughout the story.


guns, fireplace poker, knives, fists, feet

Level of Violence

most interaction between characters involves violence or the threat of violence. Assault is the most common, but there are a number of murders and attempted murders.


there is clearlysexual tension in the interactions between Mac and Cynthia Warfield. During a search of her apartment he notices "her atmosphere was all over the bedroom. It was nice atmosphere." He admires and is clearly attracted to her, but he constantly fights the urge to become sexually involved so as not to lose sight of his job. Surprisingly, Mac is not interested in the very sexy Marilyn Mayfair. "I don't hate women, generally speaking. But I don't go for that forward type."

Gender Roles

Men hold the power and control in this novel and are also the perpetrators of most of the violence. The two female characters are very different in demeanor from both the male characters and from each other. The dignified Cynthia Warfield is the wife of Scarpone Warfield, strong, yet "properly schooled" and aware of her "place." The red-headed, cigarette-smoking Marilyn Mayfair is a club singer/dancer whom Mac refers to as Warfield's "playmate."


Warfield is of Italian ethnicity and is often referred to as "dago." In one heated interaction between Donovan and Mac, Donovan -- obviously Irish -- calls him a "lousy godforsaken Scotchman." The single black mentioned in the story is a Negro polishing the brass doorknobs of the Mobile Club. He is referred to as "the boy" and speaks in a stereotypical dialect, rolling his eyes and calling Mac "boss." Two characters of Mexican ethnicity, Pedro and Miguel, are described as "little brown men" and "little brown-skinned ragamuffins."

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol is common throughout the story, especially with Mac. It is primarily used as stress relief. There is one alcoholic who is considered pathetic and pitiable. Smoking, especially cigars, is common among the men. Of the women, only Marilyn Mayfair, a woman of questionable character, smokes.

Law Enforcement

Mac is a foprmer police officer whose mentor on the force was Lt. Donovan. He has a good semi-cooperative relationship with the police, who are portrayed favorably throughout the story. Mac is often called "shamus" which seems to be somewhat degrading when used by the police.

Subject Headings

Detectives, Private / Illinois--Chicago /Murder / Police / Theft /Assault and battery / Kidnapping

Psychological Elements

There is not anything blatant. Cynthia Warfield is probably the most troubled, regretting her marriage to Scarpone and trying to escape that life, all while also trying to adhere to the tenets of her "proper education." That is, she knows her role but is desperately trying to escape it. Mac struggles to be a good private investigator, but fights temptation to cross the line. "There are jobs I can't do." He tries to work with the police, an institution that betrayed him, and views his profession in a less than admirable light. He faces two challenges in this novel: 1) solving the murder of a person whose death was not unwelcome, and 2) struggling with the attraction he has to Cynthia Warfield