John J. Malone

Created by Craig Rice (pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig; 1908-1957)

"Never look a Greek in the mouth when he comes bearing a gift horse" Malone said cheerfully. He paused in the act of opening the bottle. "I mean beware of the Greek when he comes bearing a horse in his mouth."

-- Malone dispense timeless advice in Trial By Fury (1941)

Call it screwball noir, call it hard-boiled farce, call it whatever you want comedy, but very few writers have managed to combine the hardboiled detective novel and comedy. Jonathan Latimer succeeded with Bill Crane, Norbert Davis had a good long run with it and Craig Rice did it with JOHN J. MALONE, her ne'er-do-well bibulous attorney.

Despite being billed as "Chicago's noisiest and most noted criminal lawyer," Malone acts more like a private eye than a member of the court. And a particularly hard-drinking private eye, at that. Despite a rep for courtroom pyrotechniques, he's far more likely to be found at Joe the Angel's City Hall Bar than in any court.

Along with his boozing buddies, Jake Justus and Helene Brand (later Justus), an affable young couple, he drank his way through a whole slew of novels and short stories, not to mention later film, radio and television appearances. Seemingly inept and irresponsible, he nevertheless somehow (luck of the Irish?) managed to crack the case everytime.

Even if his methods were a wee bit, uh, unorthodox, and his interpretation of the law rather elastic. Malone always seems less interested in going to trial than in playing P.I. Still, although he's a drunk and a blowhard, he seems to inspire extreme loyalty in his pals and acquaintances. Malone has a secretary, the long-suffering, lovestruck, albeit frequently unpaid Maggie Cassidy, and is often assisted in his capers by Jake and Helene. He can also count on the aid of Captain Daniel von Flannagan of the Homicide Squad.

Later, Rice teamed up with Stuart Palmer and the two of them cowrote a mess of short stories featuring Malone and Hildegarde Withers, Palmer's equally comic spinster sleuth. The stories were later collected in 1963's People Vs. Withers and Malone.

In films, Malone tended to be played as a heavyweight tough guy. On radio, Malone was rather cynical and humourless, but by the time he made it to the tube, he was a svelter, more happy-go-lucky type with girls stashed everywhere, a rather lightweight version of Craig Rice's original character.

You want the real deal, go back to the original books and stories. Those zany plots, wacky characters, and weird plot bounces will keep you going...


  • Eight Faces at Three (1939; aka "Death at Three')
  • The Corpse Steps Out (1940) . Buy this book
  • The Wrong Murder (1940) . Buy this book
  • The Right Murder (1941)
  • Trial by Fury (1941)
  • The Big Midget Murders (1942) . Kindle it!
  • Having a Wonderful Crime (1943)
  • Lucky Stiff (1945)
  • The Fourth Postman (1948) . Kindle it!
  • My Kingdom for a Hearse (1957)
  • Knocked for a Loop (1957; aka "The Double Frame")
  • People Vs. Withers and Malone (1963)
  • But the Doctor Died (1967)
  • ALSO
  • The Pickled Poodles (1960; written by Larry M. Harris)


  • "Hanged Him In the Mornin' " (March 1943, EQMM; aka "His Heart Could Break"
  • "The Bad Luck Murders" July 1943, Baffling Detective Mysteries; aka "Dead Men's Shoes")
  • "Good-Bye, Good-Bye!" (June 1946, EQMM)
  • "Once Upon a Train" (October 1950, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "Cherchez la Frame" (June 1951, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "Good-Bye Forever" (December 1951, EQMM)
  • "And the Birds Still Sing" (December 1952, EQMM)
  • "The Tears of Evil" (March 1953, Manhunt; 1958, The Name Is Malone)
  • "The End of Fear" (August 1953, Manhunt)
  • "The Dead Mr. Duck" (August 1953, Verdict; aka "The Man Who Swallowed a Horse")
  • "Life Can Be Horrible" (September 1953, Manhunt)
  • "Motive" (September 1953, Verdict; aka "Smoke Rings")
  • "... And Be Merry" (January 1954, Manhunt)
  • "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" (February 1954, Manhunt)
  • "The Little Knife That Wasnít There" (May 1954, Malcolm's; aka "Malone and the Missing Weapon"; "Malone and the Missing Weapon")
  • "I'll See You in My Dreams" (June 1954, Nero Wolfe Mystery Magazine)
  • "No Vacancies" (June 1954, Manhunt)
  • "Autopsy and Eva" (August 1954, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "Murder in the Family" (November 1954, The Saint Detective Magazine)
  • "Flowers to the Fair" (December 25, 1954, Manhunt)
  • "Beyond the Shadow of a Dream" (February 1955, EQMM)
  • "Rift in the Loot" (April 1955, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "No Motive for Murder" (July 1955, The Saint Detective Magazine)

Expanded into the novel Knocked for a Loop (1957); UK title: The Double Frame (1958)

  • "The Headless Hatbox" (1955, Double-Action Detective Stories #3)
  • "The Frightened Millionaire" (April 1956, The Saint Detective Magazine)
  • "No, Not Like Yesterday" (November 1956, The Saint Detective Magazine)
  • "Say It With Flowers" (September 1957, Manhunt; also 1997, American Pulp)
  • "One More Clue" (April 1958, Manhunt)
  • "The Very Groovy Corpse" (November 1958, The Saint Mystery Magazine)
  • "The Murder of Mr. Malone" (1958, The Name Is Malone)
  • "Life Can Be Horrible" (1958, The Name Is Malone)
  • "He Never Went Home" (1958, The Name Is Malone)
  • "The End of Fear" (1958; The Name Is Malone)
  • "Withers and Malone, Brain-Stormers" (March 1959, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "They're Trying to Kill Me" (February 1959, The Saint Mystery Magazine)
  • "Wry Highball" (March 1959, EQMM)
  • "People vs. Withers and Malone" (1963, People vs. Withers and Malone; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
  • "The Butler Who Didn't Do It" (1960; also Alfred Hitchcock Presents: 16 Skeletons From My Closet)
  • "Hardsell" (1960, Ed McBain's Mystery Book #1)


  • The Name Is Malone (1958) .
  • People vs. Withers and Malone (1963, with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers & John J. Malone)
  • Murder, Mystery and Malone (2002)...Buy this book


    (1945, RKO)
    70 minutes
    Based on characters created by Craig Rice
    Written by Howard J. Green, Parke Levy and Stewart Sterling,
    Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
    Produced by Robert Fellows
    Associate producer: Theron Warth ....
    Starring Pat O'Brien as MICHAEL J. MALONE (John J. Malone in novel)
    with George Murphy as Jake Justus
    and Carole Landis as Helene Justus
    Also starring Lenore Aubert, George Zucco Anje Berens, Richard Martin, Lénore Aubert, George Zucco, Gloria Holden, Charles D. Brown, William 'Wee Willie' Davis, Blanche Ring, Chili Williams, Josephine Whittell.

    (1949, United Artists)
    99 minutes, black & white
    Based on characters created by Craig Rice
    Screenplay by Lewis R. Foster
    Directed by Lewis R. Foster
    Produced by Jack Benny
    Associate producer: William T. Lackey
    Starring Brian Donlevy as JOHN J. MALONE
    Also starring Dorothy Lamour, Claire Trevor, Irene Hervey, Marjorie Rambeau, Robert Armstrong, Billy Vine, Warner Anderson, Virginia Patton, Richard Gaines, Joe Sawyer, Larry J. Blake

    (1950, MGM)
    69 minutes, black & white
    Based on the story "Once Upon A Train" (aka "The Loco Motive") by Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice
    Screenplay by William Bowers
    Directed by Norman Taurog 
    Original music by Adolph Deutsch 
    Produced by William H. Wright
    Starring James Whitmore as JOHN J. MALONE
    Also starring Marjorie Main, Ann Dvorak, Fred Clark, Dorothy Malone, Phyllis Kirk, Clinton Sundberg, Douglas Fowley, Willard Waterman, Don Porter


    (aka "Murder And Mr. Malone")

    (1948, ABC; 1951, NBC)
    30 minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Craig Rice
    Writers: Craig Rice, Gene Wang
    Director: Bill Rousseau
    Producer: Bernard L. Schubert
    Starring Eugene Raymond as JOHN J. MALONE
    (also played by Frank Lovejoy and George Petrie)
    Also starring Larry Haines as "The Police Lieutenant"

Mr Malone
From Old Time Radio


    (1951-52, ABC)
    13 30-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Craig Rice
    Director: Edgar Peterson
    Producer: Edward Peterson
    Starring Lee Tracy as JOHN J. MALONE
    Also starring George Petrie, Roger Koven

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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