Friday, November 14, 2008

Paperback 163: Hungry Dog Murders / Frank Gruber (Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12)

Paperback 163: Avon Murder Mystery Monthly 12 (1st ptg, 1943)

Title: Hungry Dog Murders
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: [William Forrest]

Yours for: $14

Best things about this cover:

  • Well, I guess they weren't that hungry ... this guy's corpse looks in pretty good shape
  • "If only I had used the leash and collar ... right ... there ... so close!"
  • This guy's face is gruesome.
  • The scariest part of this cover: The risen skeleton of Andy Warhol! Wearing academic regalia?! That is the weirdest logo you are likely to see in the world of paperbacks (or anywhere)
  • This book is really well made - it's beat to hell but still completely solid: no loose pages, very square. It's an early, digest-sized paperback, produced during wartime, in the first five years of the existence of the mass-paperback market. Lots of experimenting still going on in terms of design, packaging, promotion, etc. Check out these features:

On the inside flap, an explanation of how important the activity of READING is during wartime:

Reminds me a little of the recent idea that we could fight terrorism by shopping. Precedent!

The first page actually looks remarkably similar to that of many modern, hardbacked, "literary" books of today - tons of blurbs:

A War Bonds ad at the end - "Yeah, we're talkin' to you too, Canada!":

A miniature drawing at the beginning of each chapter!

And then there's the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Thrillers" used interchangeably with "Mysteries" - interesting in the history of genre nomenclature. Slippage! Conflation!
  • A. Merritt was a big deal scifi writer, and "Creep Shadow Creep" is one of the greater titles I've ever seen
  • Avon was clearly really, really big on getting you to get on board - "Order! Ask your Newsdealer! Do it! Creep Shadow Creep!"

Page 123~
"Ha-ha," Johnny laughed mirthlessly.
"It just struck me as funny, Johnny. That fat slob, Maggie. I never had a fight with a woman before. But you - you treated her just as if she'd been a man."

Ah, the '40s. Following a precedent (precedent!) set by Dick Tracy (it's true), Johnny Fletcher liked to smack broads around and then laugh about it afterward. "Women these days ... sometimes you just gotta hit 'em!"



Maughta said...

"...That fat slob, Maggie..."

I am neither fat nor a slob. Well, okay, I am did you know?!?

Sobriquet Magazine said...

I think you should make a new header with the Dead Warhol picture repeated eight or nine times in different colors. You need to keep the "Looks like you've been behind the barn," though.

Michael5000 said...

Having Dead Warhol presiding over the long, wordy scree about how important it is to read and relax isn't especially relaxing...

Laura Linger said...

David Niven: the shameful Rent Boy years.

JamiSings said...

Surprised you didn't comment on the "COMPLETE and UNEXPURGATED" on the cover. That's what stood out to me.

Of course, maybe that's because I had to look up unexpurgated. (I'm just so used to "unabridged.")

For those who, like me, never heard of this word before -

1 dictionary results for: UNEXPURGATED
WordNet - Cite This Source - Share This unexpurgated

not having material deleted; "volumes of the best plays, unexpurgated"- Havelock Ellis

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
Cite This Source

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