Friday, 9 October 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books - THE CORPSE MOVED UPSTAIRS - Frank Gruber

Another offering for the Friday's Forgotten Books series masterminded by Patti Abbott and The Rap Sheet.

Every now and again I dip into my pile of old Gold Medal and Bantam paperbacks, crack open the fusty, musty, dusty pages and hope that there isn't a squashed spider lurking inside. This time there wasn't a squashed spider, just a great romp - 'rip-roaring' as it says on the cover.

THE CORPSE MOVED UPSTAIRS (originally called THE MIGHTY BLOCKHEAD) is the seventh in a series of fourteen books published between 1940 and 1964 which feature Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg - dodgy characters, book-salesmen, occasional PIs. Johnny is the quick-thinking, smooth talking charmer; Sam is the big lug who acts as the muscle in the partnership. Johnny and Sam always have an eye out for the main chance - there's always a scheme on the go, always a body or two, and invariably a hot dame. Their main way of earning income is for Sam to show off his strength while Johnny hawks a book called 'Every Man A Samson' which apparently tells you how to be as strong as Sam.

In THE CORPSE MOVED UPSTAIRS, Johnny and Sam come back to their regular flophouse in New York, their books in a trunk, waiting for their next scam. Unfortunately, somebody thinks their trunk is the ideal place to dump a dead body.

The back cover copy says:

"Johnny Fletcher tried to find a clue to the million dollar secret that caused the brutal murder of the too-friendly corpse. The corpse may have been friendly, but everyone Johnny met among the living proved to be deadly enemies:

Beautiful, blonde Jill - the curvy cartoonist who knew all the wrong people.

Langford, a three hundred pound dealer in rare books, who was anything but cultured.

Lascivious Lulu - the two-timing wife who always knew where the money was.

Murphy, a shrewdie who managed more than his girlie movie theatre.

Johnny was sure it would be a cinch to solve a small case of murder and fraud, until one murder became two and the fraud was worth one million dollars."

Wisecracks, good fun, a fast-paced plot and some endearing and entertaining characters. If you like Richard S Prather's Shell Scott series, you'd like this, I think.


  1. Sounds quirky and fun! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Those Johnny Fletcher books are all light, quick reading and always fun. Can't recall any continuity in the series, but I remember The French Key was the first, and was made into a film with Albert Dekker as Johnny and Mike Mazurki (Murder, My Sweet's Moose Malloy) as Sam. I have a copy of The Mighty Blockhead with one of the rare paperback dust jackets, and will be showing it off one of these days on my blog.

  3. Margot - you're welcome!

    Evan - Thanks for that - I shall look out for that film!

  4. I'm going to link this too if that's okay. Hope to see you flying by at Bouchercon.