Cover art unidentified, although there are two P’s in the upper and lower portions of a boxed H to the left of the lady’s leg (her right). I’ve lightened the image slightly for a better overall look.

Craig Rice- The Lucky Stiff

BANTAM. Simon & Schuster (Inner Sanctum), hardcover, 1945. Reprint hardcovers: Unicorn Mystery Book Club [four-in-one], 1946; World, 1947. Paperbacks: Armed Services Edition 914 [oblong binding]; Pocket 391, 1947; Bantam edition, June 1987.

      From the front cover:

   “Extra good.” — SATURDAY REVIEW

      From the back cover:

            dead girls have more fun

   The reporter at her trial wrote: “Anna Marie St. Clair, convicted murderess of Big Joe Childers, seemed like a woman carved out of stone.”

   A sentence of death by electrocution will do that to a murderess. The problem was, Anna had not, in fact, killed her lover. She’d been cruelly framed.

   Then, at the eleventh hour, the true murderer confesses. Anna becomes a free woman. A free woman with a frightening plan. She blackmails the authorities into reporting her execution. Now the world at large, including those who had sent her up, thinks she fried.

   Anna’s next step is to seek out gin-soaked, falling-in-love lawyer J. J. Malone. And with his exuberant approval, Anna sets out on a devilish trail of haunting revenge.

    “The wildest series of adventures that Craig Rice has yet put on paper.” — THE NEW YORK TIMES

[FOLLOWUP COMMENTS] 11-26-07. The back cover fails to report that Craig Rice’s other pair of sleuths, Jake and Helene Justus, are in this book, a significant oversight, I would say.

   As for me, I failed to report that there was a movie made of The Lucky Stiff, and the link will lead you to the IMDB page for it. Brian Donlevy played Malone, and Dorothy Lamour was Anna Marie St. Clair. Jake and Helene Justus were not in the movie, which does not seem to be available, either commercially or on the black market.

   The book itself is part of the online George A. Kelley collection, where you’ll find a detailed write-up of the entire story. For much more about Craig Rice’s career in mystery fiction, mostly of the comic variety, check out Mike Grost’s website. Magnificent!