Title[s] : Cold-Blooded Murder
Author[s] : Freeman Wills Crofts
Cover art : Ann Cantor
[New York, Avon Paperback, 1947. No. 126. Original title: Man Overboard (Dodd, Mead, 1936). “An Inspector French mystery.” – cover].
This is one of my all-time favorite vintage paperback covers. Ann Cantor's design is over-the-top even by the standards of one of vintagedom's most sensationalist practitioners, Avon Books. The lighting and content – dead man’s [severed?] head, redheaded woman in low-cut red dress, and the bit of blood on cover – are reminiscent of those great Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 1960s, though in this case the book beats them to the punch by at least a decade.
I must confess that I never heard of Freeman Wills Crofts before I came across this book. My research reveals that he was pretty big in the UK in the between-the-wars group of mystery writers. One of his more unlikely admirers was Raymond Chandler.