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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Love's Lovely Counterfeit

cover image By: Cain, James M. (male)
Publisher: Avon Publications, Inc. (581)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 211: PS3505 .A3113 L6 1942
Contributor: J. Fitzpatrick


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: James M. Cain Geographic Locale: United States; fictional Midwestern towns are Lake City, Lakeside and Quartz. Castleton is another town located in another state in the mountain time zone. Other important places are Lake Koquabit and Lowry Run. Date of Publication: 1942  |  Original Date: 1942 Setting: urban; hotels, municipal offices and the city court Motives: jealousy, revenge

Plot Summary

Benjamin L. Grace, driver for racketeer Sol Caspar, leaks information about Caspar's illegal dealings to June Lyons, aide to Olaf Jansen's mayoral election campaign. Jansen is running against the incumbent, who is supported by Caspar and his political machine with its links to organized crime. Once June releases the information, there is a murder and a disappearance. June, who is supporting her sister, Dorothy, by repaying debts from items Dorothy has stolen, gets involved with Grace when he gives her money to pay off the debts. When Jansen wins the election, Ben takes over Sol's rackets, paying off the city's new attorney, chief of police and June. Both Jansen (who is married) and Ben are in love with June, and Ben uses her to get Jansen to go along with his rackets. But when Ben meets Dorothy, they fall in love. Meanwhile, Caspar, who had fled the country, is caught in Mexico, and when he returns to Lake City, he escapes from the police and tries to kill Ben, but Dorothy kills Caspar and they hide the body. As Ben's rackets are exposed, he and Dorothy try to flee, but Ben is shot and they are arrested. Ben outsmarts the police by having Lefty Gauss marry him and Dorothy so that she cannot testify against him, but he dies from his wounds.

Major Characters

Benjamin L. Grace "Ben" or "Benny", adult male, near 30 years old, over 6 feet tall, athletic build, blue eyes, light hair, ex-football player (high school, college and professional)

June Lyons adult female, 25 years old, black eyes, wavy black hair, lawyer who works for the mayor in his campaign and as chief of social services in his administration

Sol Caspar (Salvatore Gasparro) adult male, short, brown eyes, mid-30s, married with a 4-year old son, owns the Columbus Hotel

Richard Hosea Gauss "Lefty", adult male, ex-con and ex-preacher, works for Caspar, then for Grace

Joseph P. Cantrell adult male, police inspector who becomes Chief of Police in Lake City

Dorothy Lyons adult female, 22 years old, June's sister, college student who got in trouble for stealing

Guy Horner adult male, bank cashier

Arch Rossi adolescent male, 19 years old, bank robber

Richard Delany "Dick," adult male, 40 years old, connected to Chicago gangsters, owns horses

Olaf Jansen adult male, Swedish, his wife is in a sanatorium, dairy farm owner and mayor

Bugs Lenhardt adult male, Caspar's bodyguard

Goose Groner adult male, Caspar's bodyguard

Yates adult male, attorney

Oliver Hedge Bleeker "Ollie" adult male, city prosecutor/district attorney

Hovey Dunne adult male, U.S. attorney



Level of Violence

victims are all shot. Delany is then cemented into a barrel and dropped in the lake. Violence is not described in detail.


sex is implicit, although sexual attraction does play a role between June and Ben, and June and Dorothy. Ben is jealous of June and Jansen.

Gender Roles

traditional for both males and females

Law Enforcement

Joseph P. Cantrell is an Inspector who becomes Chief of the Lake City Police after Jansen wins the election, replacing Chief Dietz. Also, there is County Sheriff Orcutt and the judge is Magistrate Himmelhaber.

Added Features

political corruption is a theme of this complicated story, involving organized crime, sexual attraction, and love.

Subject Headings

Murder/ Crime and Criminals/ Gangsters/ Corruption (In Politics)/ Adultery