Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ace Double D-379 (1959)

Title[s] : Drink with the Dead ; Mistress of Horror House
Author[s] : J. M. [Jay] Flynn ; William Woody
Cover art : Paul Rader (Drink with the Dead)

style ***
substance **
collectibility **

A winning Ace Double, this, arriving rather late in the company’s evolution. Dead has terrific cover art by Paul Rader : a sculpture-like tough guy with impossibly large hands and forearms has a menacing grip on neck of pretty blonde. There's a review at Vintage Hardboiled Reads.

Mistress has an even more interesting if less polished cover: a curvaceous, floating-in-mid-air blonde in see-through negligee and high heels dominates the cover. A Siamese cat lurks at her feet. The background includes missiles and nuclear explosion, and sketchily drawn figures of desperate-looking man and two tussling shadowy figures. It all makes for a wonderfully surrealistic if conceptually scattered design. I’d never heard of the book's author William Woody. In any case this is decidedly the junoir partner of this Ace double production, the fetching cover nothwithstanding. See also the aforementioned review for a brief description of the book.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Brit noir

Title : Gunning in England
Author : William J. Elliott
Cover art : uncredited
  [London: Gerald Swan, 1946. First printing. Miniature-size hardcover. “Ed. Gunning takes the stage again in Gunning in England, a thriller by William J. Elliott”—T.p.]

style **
substance ***
collectibility **

It's tough to find biographical information about British mystery writer William Elliott, whether the sources be print or online. We glimpse him in places like Classic Crime Fiction and ABE Books. He apparently wrote quite a few mysteries for Swan in the 1940s, and his sprightly style might be described as a Britishised Chandlerese. The cover art for the present book reflects the slightly different British take on the tough formula – leaden figures which don’t quite capture the buoyancy of the vintage American style. Pluses include the vintage Forties car and the girl’s red hair & green dress. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dell 833 (1952)

Title : Recipe for Homicide
Author : Lawrence Blochman
Cover art : Verne Tossey

style ***
substance **
collectibility **

Despite the girl's rather melodramatic pose this cover stands out for a certain delicacy and restraint, qualities we don't usually associate with the vintage pb style of ca. 1950. See also review at Pulp International : Two Covers for Recipe for Homicide.