Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

So Dead My Lovely

cover image By: Keene, Day (male)
Publisher: Pyramid Books (G395)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 313: PS3521 .E282 S6 1959
Contributor: M. Skiba


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Day Keene Geographic Locale: Los Angeles, California (State Highway 118) and Redondo Beach, California Date of Publication: 1959  |  Original Date: 1959 Setting: rural, a desolate highway; the scene then moves to an apartment two city blocks from the beach Motives: robbery, rape, abduction, and ransom demands

Plot Summary

The story revolves around James Carson and the rape and abduction of his wife Shannon while returning from their two-week honeymoon. As James joins up with his new sister-in-law to try and find his wife, the Sheriff's Department begins to investigate him and his possible involvement in the crime, which they believe ended in Shannon's murder. James is eventually arrested for the murder of his wife and returned to the scene of the crime for questioning. The sheriff hopes this strategy will result in James leading them to his wife's burial location. After escaping police custody, it soon becomes obvious to James that he has been the victim of a set-up. The story concludes with the revelation that there is more to his wife's untimely demise than meets the eye.

Major Characters

James A. Carson adult male, recently-married, 36 years old, oil executive

Shannon Grey Carson adult female, 20 years old, recently married to James Carson; sells children's encyclopedias

Shirley Grey adult female, Shannon's 22 year old estranged sister, a strip-bar singer

Ford Yancey adult male, deputy sheriff, first law enforcement officer to respond to the crime scene

Lieutenant Phillips adult male, police officer initially in charge of the investigation

Inspector Rosencrans adult male, takes over the investigation from Lieutenant Phillips


switchblade, revolver, homemade blackjacks

Level of Violence

violent episodes are briefly described. James is beaten and knocked unconscious after being forced to watch the rape of his wife. At the ransom transfer, James is beaten again and is shot in the legs as he attempts an escape.


sexuality plays a major role in the storyline. The two Grey sisters are compared several times with regard to their sexual experience, attitudes and willingness to engage in sex outside of marriage. Carson's sexual excitement upon meeting his sister-in-law for the first time eventually leads to adultery.

Gender Roles

women are viewed as sexual servants to men, whether it be the "good girl" role of the wife or the "bad girl" role of the sister-in-law. James Carson's manliness is viewed as suspect with his report of being able to do nothing while the two assailants raped his wife. He is repeatedly questioned as to why he didn't try to do anything to stop the attack -- was he afraid?


racist activities or beliefs are not evident

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

the assailants are described as behaving as if they had smoked marijuana -- having no sense of time and acting as if they were floating. In newspaper reports, the teens are labeled drug addicts. Later they are described as "lopheads" willing to do anything for a fix, including violence when necessary. While James and Shirley make the circuit of bars looking for information on the assailants, Shirley points out to James that she will have to drive because he will need to drink in each of the bars, and she didn't want anyone to think that her "kid sister had married a creep."

Law Enforcement

the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is involved in the investigation of Mrs. Carson's abduction. While the department is hard-working and interested in solving the crime, Mr. Carson soon finds himself to be their main suspect. From that point on, he is unconvinced of their crime-solving abilities, and remarks several times on their poor observational skills. For example, as two ransom messages are left at his front door, investigators who are watching his house don't see a thing.

Subject Headings

Kidnapping/ Rape/ Adultery/ Murder/ California - Los Angeles/ California - Redondo Beach

Psychological Elements

the two teens are described as "sexual schizophrenics" who would be slapped on the wrist by the criminal justice system due to their psychiatric condition leaving them "not responsible."