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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Hoods Take Over

cover image By: Demaris, Ovid (pseudonym of Ovide E. Desmarais) (male)
Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc. (Gold Medal Books 680)
Place of Publication: Greenwich, Connecticut
Catalog #: Kelley Box 518: PS3554 .E4555 H66 1957
Contributor: K. Quinlivan


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Ovid Demaris Geographic Locale: Los Angeles, California Date of Publication: 1957  |  Original Date: 1957 Setting: urban; various homes and neighborhoods in and around L.A., including middle-class homes and apartments in Hollywood as well as palatial Bel Air mansions Motives: revenge, murder

Plot Summary

Mild-mannered teacher Alan Avery leads a quietly unspectacular life until the night he inadvertently witnesses a violent beating and knifing in a Hollywood parking lot. After reporting his story to the police, he finds himself the target of powerful organized crime bosses who regularly maim and/or murder anyone who happens to cross their path. Over the course of two days, Alan's unassuming life is turned upside down. His picture appears on the front page of the local newspaper, and he is identified as a law-abiding citizen, willing to take a stand and testify against the murderers. The two thugs who perpetrated the crime are the henchmen of Marty Kahn, a powerful Los Angeles mobster who controls every vice racket in the city and is long sought-after by the L.A.P.D. Kahn, fearful that the East coast Mafia is about to invade his lucrative territory, masterminds Avery's demise, directing operations from his mansion in the Hollywood hills. Despite warnings from his wife and others, Avery remains confident that virtue will triumph, only to have his idealism shattered by a final horrific act of violence.

Major Characters

Edie Avery adult female, 31 years old, dark brown hair, pregnant, loving and loyal wife of Alan Avery

Alan Avery adult male, tall, thin, respectable teacher, willing to do his duty as a citizen even in the face of danger

Slick Danchick adult male, average height and weight, dark complexion, black, curly hair, criminal with a long track record in the underworld

Joe Ricca adult male, middle-aged, tall, stocky, black hair, crime syndicate boss with thirty murders under his belt, runs prostitution and narcotics rings

Abe Doto "the Axe", adult male, short, very fat, large head, not overly bright, thug

Marty Kahn adult male, middle-aged, short, stocky, organized crime boss in charge of bookmaking, gambling and extortion

Ernie Tucker adult male, 40 years old, tough police sergeant whose burning hatred of all criminals is the driving force in his life

Bob Cross adult male, 24 years old, rookie patrolman

Sam Johnson adult male, middle-aged, robust, hardened homicide lieutenant who's seen more than his share of violence

Don Merkle adult male, electronics expert who specializes in eavesdropping

Bryce Barker adult male, middle aged, partially deaf lawyer who specializes in defending thugs

Jimmy Gracio adult male, middle-aged, tall, handsome, Mafia organizer who specializes in extortion

Jack Nitta adult male, average height, thin face, Mafia honcho

Marie adult female, blonde hair, baby-voiced girlfriend of mobster Marty Kahn

adult female, tall, slim, blue eyes, black hair, girlfriend of Bryce Barker

Al Rebos adult male, thinning hair, nervous twitch, speech impediment, explosives expert


knife, explosives

Level of Violence

there are vivid descriptions of the murder scenes: "the knife made one long, quick stroke and Slick's throat burst open....the blood spurted out, black and warm and sticky." There are several knifings, beatings, and a bomb explodes; the gangsters derive great pleasure from their use of weapons and force.


there are several fairly explicit descriptions of sexual encounters ranging from a crime boss who enjoys watching his mistress run naked around the pool, to a character whose sexual performance is hampered by his dependence on alcohol.

Gender Roles

traditional; the women are either wives or mistresses completely dependent on the men in their lives for economic and emotional support. Most of the male characters are tough-talking macho types who use muscle power rather than brain power to achieve their goals. One exception to this male stereotype is Alan Avery, who is depicted as sensitive, caring, and idealistic.


the domestic servants in the mobster's home are Mexicans who are subjected to brief derogatory remarks by their maniacal employer.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

the bad guys drink frequently and excessively. Bryce Barker, a disillusioned lawyer who can't forget his turbulent past, turns to alcohol in an attempt to escape his memories and the guilty knowledge that he has done the legal dirty work for a gang of violent thugs.

Law Enforcement

Sergeant Tucker is hard-working and dedicated, an honest cop disillusioned by the corruption he encounters both on and off the force. He hates organized crime because its victims are poor and innocent, and he goes to great lengths to expose a corrupt fellow police officer. Alan Avery has a nave faith in the goodness of the police and their ability to protect him from the gangsters.

Subject Headings

Gangs/ Juvenile Delinquency/ California - Los Angeles/ California - Hollywood/ Murder/ Gangsters/ Teachers/ Mafia

Psychological Elements

Sergeant Tucker states that "I haven't met the hood yet that wasn't a mental case." One of the mob bosses is characterized as a severe manic-depressive, whose mood swings are described in detail, alternating from euphoric highs to suicidal lows that take a noticeable toll on everyone around him. Another character is a guilt-ridden alcoholic, a problem that is traced to his father's suicide many years before and his mother's alcoholism.

Film Adaptations

Gang War, 1958, Twentieth Century Fox