Author : Richard Marsten
Cover art : uncredited
[Crest Giant s178. Paperback. First Crest printing, August 1957. Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) writing as Richard Marsten. Cover art of a woman in bright red high heels standing over a dead? man on the floor is rendered in late fifties, quasi-expressionist, Mitchell Hooks style].
The golden age vintage paperback cover artists well understood the erotic charge of high heels and women’s legs, but seldom do high heels become the focal point of the cover, much less the book’s story itself. But that’s exactly the case with (you gotta love the title!) The Spiked Heel, a novel of nefarious doings in the shoe industry. The terrific, spicy, and alas, anonymous, cover art for the Crest printing is an eyeful, and perhaps has an allegorical as well as representational function. To wit : “Would you like to know the secret of success? I’ll tell you. Smile. Smile, and crack skulls. Crack them, but smile while you’re doing it.”
Fascinating to compare the original cover art with the re-worked Third Printing cover of Crest d581 . Granted, the latter has a certain felicitousness with the image of the girl’s legs inside the form of a giant white high heel, but I much prefer the elegance of the 1950s version; even its lettering is better!