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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Bullets for the Bridegroom

cover image By: Dodge, David (male)
Publisher: Popular Library (252)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 231: PS3507 .O248 B84 1944
Contributor: R. Brandt


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: David Dodge Geographic Locale: Reno, Nevada Date of Publication: 1944  |  Original Date: 1944 Setting: urban and rural Motives: sabotage, murder

Plot Summary

San Francisco CPA and tax consultant James "Whit" Whitney and his fiance Kitty McLeod are driving to Reno to get married. They've picked Reno because a friend of Whit's family, Pop Foster, is a Justice of the Peace there who'd made Whit promise that if he ever got married, he would let Pop do the "matrimonial welding job." When they finally reach Pop's house, they find a pair of thugs, Walter Gates and weasel-faced Sammy Kohler inhabiting the house with Pop. Whit, however, has neglected to pick up a Nevada marriage license and the wedding must be postponed, but not before Gates, who is actually a German spy sending coded messages to Japanese submarines about U.S. weapons movements in the Pacific, becomes convinced that Whit is a federal agent sent to track down his transmitter. Whit and Kitty have to forego the idea of Pop marrying them and instead get married in town. Along the way, they pick up -- or, rather, are picked up by -- Jess Caldwell and casino-owner Lorenzo Colusa, two of Gates's associates. They also run into Pete Weston, a newspaperman and former buddy of Whit's, and Gladys Warren, a "pocket-size taffy blonde." Whit then discovers another former buddy who happens to be the real FBI agent hunting Gates posing as a street bum in Reno. When Gates and Co. start letting bullets fly in Whit's direction, Whit calls in his former bodyguard to intercept them for him amid a host of colorful, well-drawn characters, including G-men (and G-girls) and spies. When Whit and Swede track down the radio, the whole cast is involved in the final climactic shootout.

Major Characters

James Whitney "Whit", adult male, mid-30s, big, 6 feet tall, heavy, dark hair, clean-shaven, Certified Public Accountant, tax consultant

Walter Gates adult male, middle-aged, stocky, heavy-set, graying hair, pale blue eyes, dirty fingernails, spy, saboteur

Samuel S. Kohler "Sammy", adult male, small, long nose, small eyes, not much chin, "a face like a weasel", gunman

Jess Caldwell adult male, average height and weight, average coloring, average looks, dirty fingernails, spy, saboteur

Lorenzo Colusa adult male, Italian, handsome, beautiful wavy black hair, nice profile, "a wolf", nightclub owner, spy

Pop Foster adult male, elderly, white hair, thin, lined face, Justice of the Peace

Durham adult male, middle-aged, heavy, balding, talkative, FBI agent

Kathryn McLeod Whitney "Kitty", adult female, brunette, pretty, blue eyes, "the prettiest pair of gams west of the Mississippi"

Kenneth C. Jones "Casey", adult male, dirty, bearded, shabby, "a down and out" FBI special agent (undercover), electrical engineer

Swede Larson adult male, big, heavy, dished nose, scarred face, San Francisco police officer, bodyguard, ex-pug

Gladys Warren adult female, "under 30", beautiful figure, doll's face, "a pocket-size taffy blonde," FBI agent (undercover)

Pete Weston adult male, tall, pleasant, collegiate clothes and a bow tie, FBI special agent (undercover), newspaperman

John Masilikos adult male, Greek, close-cropped hair, bull neck, covered with black hair, huge hands, FBI special agent (undercover), fry-cook and diner owner, former pro wrestler

Alex Hotaling adult male, elderly, small, leathery, talks "like a Zane Grey character", livery stable owner



Level of Violence

physical violence is fairly explicit. Whit and Casey knock out "weasel-face" Sammy Kohler when Kohler tries to stick Whit up; Whit is knocked unconscious and kidnapped by Jess Caldwell; Swede beats Lorenzo Colusa to a pulp after Colusa slaps Kitty. The climactic gun battle between the saboteurs and the FBI (including the newly-deputized Whit and Swede) is also described in graphic terms, with Swede shooting Gates "between the eyes" and Whit taking a bullet "in the belly."


Gladys uses her sexuality to assist her in her role as an undercover (so to speak) FBI agent. After all, who would suspect a cute, dumb, fun-loving blonde -- who's been married three times -- of being a G-girl? No sexual acts are described, however Whit and Kitty are on their honeymoon and there is some sexual banter between them. It is also made clear that they do, in fact, consummate their marriage.

Gender Roles

male: traditional, female: progressive. Both female characters display strong, progressive attitudes and actions. Kitty is strong-willed and decisive. When a drunken Colusa starts manhandling her, she reacts by giving him "a jolting uppercut that snapped his head back." Gladys, who is an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a dumb blonde, takes charge and gets Kitty and Swede away from the nightclub. She also saves the sheriff's life during the gun battle after he is trapped in his burning automobile.


not a significant factor

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol use is fairly frequent. Much of the action takes place in nightclubs, along with the attendant drinking. However, both Whit and Swede are very good at holding their liquor. In fact, Swede is mad at Whit when Whit makes him drink only beer so that he will be alert in case anything starts happening. This plan backfires on Whit when the beer makes him have to use the restroom, where Caldwell jumps him.

Law Enforcement

Casey, Pete, Gladys, John, and a dice man named Jackson are all undercover Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their assignment is to locate a secret transmitter being operated in the Reno area by a gang of spies and saboteurs led by Walter Gates. Gates and crew are sending information about U.S. ship movements in the Pacific to the Japanese. Before they move in to capture the spies, Casey enlists the help of the local sheriff and his deputy; he also deputizes Whit and Swede so they can take part in the raid.

Added Features

in effect, this is a World War II spy novel, unique because the action is set in Reno, Nevada after the surrender of Germany. The villains are Germans who are spying for the Japanese.

Subject Headings

Accountants/ Nevada - Reno/ Federal Bureau of Investigation/ Spies/ World War, 1939-1945