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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Peeping Tom Murders

cover image By: Baynes, Jack (pseudonym of Bertram B. Fowler) (male)
Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc. (Crest Original Novel 234)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 196: PS3503 .A96 P44 1958
Contributor: K. Quinlivan

General

Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Jack Baynes Geographic Locale: Hollywood, California and environs Date of Publication: 1958  |  Original Date: 1958 Setting: urban; motels, apartments, restaurants in various neighborhoods in and around Hollywood; glamorous homes of wealthy film industry executives Motives: blackmail, greed

Plot Summary

Hard-hitting private detective Morocco Jones is hired to investigate a blackmail threat against wealthy Brazilian playboy Gardo Parano. It seems that a powerful ex-hood turned cult leader, named Santash, known throughout Hollywood for his sleazy business dealings, is demanding $500,000 or he will go to the police with evidence that Parano was involved in a murder. In order to clear Parano's name and free him from the extortion threats of Santash, Morocco launches a no-holds-barred investigation. He quickly becomes embroiled in the ruthless dealings of Hollywood movie moguls, exploring the connections between a spiritualist cult, a blackmail ring with a mob syndicate tie-in, and a determined squad of hired killers. Despite constant threats of danger and violence from all directions, Morocco makes spectacular getaways look routine before wrapping up his case.


Major Characters

Morocco Jones adult male, strong features, gray eyes, brown hair, powerful build, trained in counter espionage; tough but sensitive, private detective

Doheny adult male, tall, big build, brutal, power-hungry police officer

Lassister adult male, tall, smart, analytical police detective

Santash (real name Joel Trucks), adult male, African-American, smart, smooth, magnetic, leader of a psychic cult, extortionist and blackmailer

Cliff Rankin adult male, blonde hair, blue eyes, former movie producer turned scandal sheet owner and blackmailer

Sam Gurney adult male, big shot movie studio executive, tough, determined, fond of beautiful young women

Vic Ward adult male, tall, fit, deeply tanned, strongman and troubleshooter for Sam Gurney

Gardo Parano adult male, Hispanic, tall, dark hair, full lips, aristocratic features, olive complexion, wealthy, snobbish playboy

DeBreva adult male, Hispanic, clever, dapper little man, black eyes, clipped mustache, Brazilian lawyer

Chaco adult male, Hispanic, enormous, muscular, ape-like build, speaks only in grunts, bodyguard

Saul Bogardus adult male, African-American, heavyset, runs a numbers racket

Sonya Langley adult female, purple eyes, dark hair, high cheekbones, seductive, budding actress

Albert Hawser adult male, late 30s, thin, scenery designer and alcoholic

Dorcas Hawser adult female, blue eyes, light brown hair, sister of Sonya Langley

Ham Potter adult male, tall, thin, enthusiastic, friendly, newspaper reporter


Weapons

guns, fists


Level of Violence

frequent fistfights are described in vivid detail and portray Morocco pitting his unbelievable physical prowess against all who oppose him. Morocco wins every encounter, no matter what the odds. One thug dies of a broken neck, numerous characters are knocked unconscious, one suspect is beaten to death and others die of their injuries after being severely beaten.


Sexuality

Morocco openly admires attractive women whenever and wherever he encounters them, despite the fact that he has left his girlfriend back in Chicago. The women, especially the movie-star hopefuls, dress provocatively, flirt constantly, and willingly hop from bed to bed in their quest for stardom.


Gender Roles

traditional for both men and women. Hollywood starlets trade sex for a chance at fame and fortune, and the female characters are able to manipulate men quite readily. Male characters are either tough guys interested only in money and the next big business deal, or hard-hitting stooges with more brawn than brains.


Ethnicity

domestic servants in the homes of the wealthy are Asian-Americans, depicted as quiet, hard-working and inscrutable. African-Americans are generally referred to as "colored" or "Negro", and segregation is briefly hinted at in the description of neighborhoods and local gangs. A powerful Hispanic family is depicted as a South American Mafia with vast wealth and underworld connections.


Alcohol/Drug Abuse

social drinking for the purposes of relaxation; this is treated as commonplace. The portrayal of an alcoholic character is generally sympathetic.


Law Enforcement

the police resent the arrival of a private detective and are not shy about their dislike. As one officer says, "We don't like out-of-town peepers coming into this town and fogging up and complicating our work." Detective Lassister is a tough, smart cop who harbors a secret admiration for the independence enjoyed by private investigators. There are a few references to the fact that the police can be manipulated by the big crime bosses.


Subject Headings

Cults/ California - Hollywood/ Blackmail/ Police/ Motion Pictures/ Detectives, Private


Psychological Elements

Morocco occasionally feels guilty because he is getting paid a huge sum to protect the reputation of a man he considers snobbish, weak and greedy, but his guilt never prevents him from doing his job. Overall, Morocco seems satisfied with his life and relatively well-balanced.