Friday, April 9, 2010

Avon Books No. 159, 1948

Title : This is murder, Mr. Herbert, and other stories
Author : Day Keene
Cover art : Ann Cantor
  [One of Keene’s first books, this is a collection of four hardboiled stories drawn from the pulp magazines. Includes title story plus : With Blood In His Eye; Sweet Tooth Of Murder; If A Body Meet A Body].

style ***
substance ***
collectibility ***

Avon 159 benefits from terrific bondage-style front cover art : a guy brandishes a pistol and terrorizes a tied-up woman in red dress, while a hand grips the Venetian blind in background. I always thought the guy on the front cover of This is Murder was one of the creepiest looking villains in vintage paperback history. He’s not really sinister, but instead repellant in a geeky sort of way – pudgy, with unkempt hair and a deviant look in his eyes, holding a gun in his left hand held against the girl’s neck. His right hand appears to have a grip on the shoulder strap of her dress, pulling it down in most sleazy fashion [1]; the poor woman in red dress has every right to look a little uncomfortable! And what a great touch, the hand slithering through the blinds! It’s all done with the gaudy colors and over-the-top panache typical of Avon Books in their glory years.

 [1] But is he really pulling on her dress, or rather holding the lamp which is inserted in the cover a bit clumsily? Whatever. It’s still a bold, eye-catching cover design.

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