Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, September 4, 2014


One of my favorite detective characters from the past is John J. Malone, Craig Rice's hard-drinking defense lawyer.  One way or another, Malone will get his client off the hook -- even if it means bribing someone.  (Yes, Malone can be considered the ancestor of Lawrence Block's far more amoral lawyer Ehrengraf.)

Malone first reached print as a second banana to characters Jake Justus and Helene Brand in the novel Eight Faces at Three.  The soon-to-be-married Jake and Helene quickly moved into the second banana position to make way for the rumpled little lawyer.   (And, as time went by, Jake and Helene were absent from much of the series.)  Malone appeared in many short stories as well as eleven novels by Rice -- the last novel apparently being and early draft written just before her death.

Rice, whose real name was Georgiana Randolph Craig, also published a series featuring Bingo Riggs and Handsome Kusak, stand-alone mysteries, true crime articles, and ghost-written work for Gypsy Rose Lee and George Sanders.  She was the first mystery author (albeit disguised as a man) to make the cover of Time.  Malone stories were the basis of three movies made from 1945 and 1950.  He was featured in a fondly remembered 13-episode television series in 1952-3.  And he had his own radio show, The Amazing Mr. Malone (also known as Murder and Mr. Malone), which appeared on
ABC radio in 1948 and ended on NBC radio in 1951 with the title character played variously by Gene Raymond, Frank Lovejoy, and George Petrie.  Despite her success, Rice had a troubled life and died way too early at the age of 50.

In 1960, Larry M. Harris (perhaps better known as Laurence Janifer) continued the Malone saga with the mystery The Pickled Poodles.  Book-ending this novel, he wrote three classic SF novels with Randall Garrett under the joint pseudonym Mark Phillips whose protagonist (Kevin Malone) is hinted to be John J. Malone's descendant.

The link takes you to three of the radio episodes.


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