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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Murder Mistress

cover image By: Colby, Robert (male)
Publisher: Ace Books, Inc. (D-361)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 836: PS3553 .O437 M86 1959
Contributor: J. Vourgourakis


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Robert Colby Geographic Locale: Miami, Florida Date of Publication: 1959  |  Original Date: 1959 Setting: urban Motives: robbery

Plot Summary

"Driving to Miami, Scott Daniels paused to rescue a lady in distress. She was in a roadhouse, abandoned by her date, and so Scott offered Valerie a lift. No sooner had they started off, than they spotted the boy friend's car smashed in an accident. Valerie begged Scott to save her good name by salvaging her suitcase from the wreck before the cops could find it. But no sooner had he done so, than he learned that instead of being filled with pink unmentionables, it was loaded with green negotiables -- hundreds of thousands of them! Curiosity being stranger than caution, Scott kept his eye on Valerie after dropping her off in Miami. And thus found himself the only element between a gang of ruthless criminals and the perfect crime." (from the inside cover).

Major Characters

Scott Daniels adult male, television announcer whose star was rising fast until stage fright turned him to the bottle and he ruined his career by appearing drunk on TV

Valerie McLean adult female, drifting from lover to lover in search of financial support

Clay Scofield adult male, bank vice-president, married the daughter of the bank president and moved up in the ranks through this connection. His wife's dissatisfaction with his indolence and his own dissatisfaction with his wife's frigidity ended in separation and divorce is imminent. Will do anything for Valerie, but first he must get rid of his wife.

Martin Bates adult male, watchmaker who takes part in the bank robbery

Roy Whalen adult male, drifter, seasoned thief who masterminds the bank heist

Level of Violence

at the beginning of the novel, Clay sideswipes Martin Bates' car in order to steal a suitcase full of cash, but the accident proves fatal to Bates. Roy breaks into Valerie and Clay's home with the intention of raping Valerie and getting her to tell him where the money is. Valerie shoots Roy in the head. At the end of the novel, Clay attempts to kill Daniels, but is shot instead by a policeman who enters the scene.


Valerie is described as an intensely sexual and alluring woman. In almost every scene, she is described in terms of her figure, usually her breasts. Her sexuality is what drives Scofield to plan the bank heist and what lures Bates into confiding in her.

Gender Roles

typical; Scott Daniels provides the active support of the household, bringing in the paycheck and physically protecting his wife while she stays home and provides emotional support. Even when Scott fails in New York, his wife keeps his spirits up, knowing that he will make it again some day. In contrast, Clay and Valerie are depicted as tied together through sex and money. The neediness of these characters, Valerie's lust for money and Clay's lust for sex that drive them to commit crimes of theft and even murder.



Alcohol/Drug Abuse

all characters drink socially. Scott became an alcoholic because of the stress of his job in New York, but at the opening of the novel he has been alcohol-free for a year. The novel ends with Scott's wife fixing him a martini to symbolize Scott's overcoming of his fears and his newfound self-reliance and control.

Law Enforcement

the police are depicted as ineffective

Subject Headings

Alcoholism/ Florida - Miami/ Murder/ Robbery

Psychological Elements

Scott's fear of success causes him to drink and eventually lose his big-time job. When the novel opens, Scott is living in Florida with a small-time job, and has just returned from a trip to New York where he tried but failed to convince his old bosses to rehire him. When he gets involved in the mystery of Valerie and begins to solve the crime, he faces his own fears and succeeds in capturing the killers and regains his former self-esteem.