Friday, January 30, 2009

Paperback 193: Naked Nurse / Ben Anderton (Chariot Books CB-216)

Paperback 193: Chariot Books CB-216 (PBO, 1962)

Title: Naked Nurse
Author: Ben Anderton
Cover artist: [Robert Maguire]

Yours for: SOLD (June '09)

Best things about this cover:

  • Semicolon? Really? Did you think that would look fancier than your run-of-the-mill comma? And what is up with that first dash, after "Raw"? What did the comma ever do to you, copywriter guy?
  • That's right, my first comment about the cover of a book called "Naked Nurse," which depicts an honest-to-god naked nurse, was about punctuation. That is how I roll.
  • "She admired his skill in surgery" - Really? She does not look like she is "admiring" anything. She looks like she is cowering in fear. Naked fear.
  • The art is actually first-rate and looks suspiciously like the work of the legendary Bob Maguire (his female faces and hair are very distinctive)
  • Ben Anderson's chosen pseudonym was woefully inadequate

Best things about this back cover:

  • Oh god. And I thought the front cover had punctuation issues. It's a bloodbath back here. "White capped" needs a hyphen, the dash after "nurse" is ridiculous and superfluous, there should be a comma after "Young" ... jeez louise, there's subject / verb disagreement in the description of "Lynn!" I can't go on. You can see the carnage for yourself. I wonder if Chariot Books outsourced their cover copy-writing to, let's say, the Ukraine, and then had the Ukrainians forward their work to Laos for proofing...
  • "Penetrating" - tee hee
  • "For Men" - you don't say ...

Page 123~

The local minister who performed the ceremony, so far from the strident complexities of the city, had expressed his pleasure in learning that the community was to have a new expert surgeon to help care for their ills.

Oh boy, an expert surgeon! No more getting appendectomies from Floyd the Barber! Hurrah!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Paperback 192: Strip for Murder / Richard S. Prather (Gold Medal 508)

Paperback 192: Gold Medal 508 (PBO, 1955)
Title: Strip for Murder
Author: Richard S. Prather
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $10

Best things about this cover:

  • The picture does Not deliver on the promise of the tagline. No invasion. No nudity. Come on!
  • What are these people doing? He looks dead, or asleep. He's under a blanket but he's still got his stupid trench coat on, and she appears to be wearing a tablecloth. Is she trying to get him to shut up? Is he licking ... something ... off her fingers? Would reading the book help me understand?
  • Seriously, they couldn't be more unnude if they tried. Rip-off.
  • Love the semi-arbitrary sales figure: 3, 937, 652. Pocket Books went through a phase where it printed the alleged sales figures on every book.
  • I had no idea Prather sold that well. He's not well known anymore except among die-hard fans of vintage crime fiction, to whom he is a minor legend. His stories are known for wackiness and comedy, and I have to say, the parts I've read are pretty damned funny, though much of the humor seems to derive from the apparently inherently funny premise of group nudity. I went looking to see what other Prather I had, and the first one I picked up was "Gat Heat," which opens with Shell Scott "invading" a pool party ... where everyone is naked. At least the lady on the cover of that one is wearing a bikini - that's at least close to naked. I can't forgive our cover's lack of skin. It's shameful, really.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Why is she holding the door handle as if it were a writing implement?
  • "Migawd!"
  • "... an eye as private as a telescope ..." - is that very private or not-at-all private?
  • "Tomato" is one of my favorite bits of bygone slang. Up there with "gams."

Page 123~

Man, these characters had a lot of energy - swimming, croquet, tag - but at least it all looked normal

Yeah, you hate to see abnormal croquet. That'll turn your hair white.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paperback 191: The Listening House (Popular Library 69)

Paperback 191: Popular Library 69 (1st ptg, 1946)

Title: The Listening House
Author: Mabel Seeley
Cover artist: [H. Lawrence Hoffman]

Yours for: $16

Best things about this cover:

  • Yeah, if the house I was walking past suddenly grew a gigantic ear, I'd run like hell too.
  • Is the runner holding a boomerang? Is he texting someone? Did the ice cream fall out of his cone? His forward hand looks very wrong.
  • While I love the more realistic, lurid, 50s-60s covers the most, I have a strange affection for these more abstract early covers. Hoffman did some great work in the 40s. I'm pretty sure I have more from him coming up in my collection.

Best things about this back cover:

  • This description sounds more Gothic than Mystery. A creaky old house ... on a cliff?
  • I love the can-do, plucky optimism of the early paperbacks. They all had adorable slogans back then - "Mysteries of Proven Merit" Not sure what's going on with the quotation marks. When you say it about yourself, it's not really a quote.

Page 123~

"Mrs Dacres, did you ever spend any thought at all on why society makes such a hue and cry about murder? After all, by and large, I've found out that most of the people who get murdered leave the world better off for their absence."

Now that's a quote that makes me want to keep reading. For once.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Paperback 190: Deadlock / Ruth Fenisong (Dell 808)

Paperback 190: Dell 808 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Deadlock
Author: Ruth Fenisong
Cover artist: John McDermott

Yours for: SOLD! (1/23/09)

Best things about this cover:

  • This guy doesn't look dead. He looks tuckered out after an evening of sloppy hamburger-eating. He's got that silly, sated grin on his face. He does have dead-hand, though, I'll give him that. That, or he's amusing his house guest by making shadow puppets on the ground
  • This man, and thus the couch, is apparently 8 feet long. Seriously, if the dead guy stood up, his head would clearly no longer be in picture.
  • This is the day that Dr. Carlotta Fiore decided, "No more housecalls!" - another day, another gigantic, drunk, ketchup-stained man.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Torn from today's headlines! ... seriously, TORN. See the tears. We tore it. Torn!
  • "Gridley Nelson" is officially my new crossword-solving moniker / alter ego. I might even have to keep the "Lieut." title.
  • "Basement sordidness"!!! Man, I really need to know what that is.

Page 123~

"No." Gaudio turned his wobbly head from side to side to implement the weak denial. The effect was grotesque.

Though surely no more grotesque than the use of "implement" as a verb in that first sentence. Yikes.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Paperback 189: The Sound and the Fury / William Faulkner (Signet D1628)

Paperback 189: Signet D1628 (1st ptg, 1959)

Title: The Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
Cover artist: photo

Yours for: SOLD! (1/19/09)

Best things about this cover:

  • Best thing? Hmmm. I can't decide. It's either the sound or the fury.
  • I see the "Fury" (Yul Brenner tries to strangle Joanne Woodward) - the "Sound"? I guess it's the sound of me gasping at the sight of Yul Brenner with hair.
  • This blue tint is so dark that it renders the picture almost irrelevant. I love the hand-drawn fon on the title. Makes the book look like an adaptation of a wacky Disney movie.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "DECAY" - Why would I read any farther after that? That is perhaps the best single-word tagline I've ever seen on a book. And the bright, whimsical font! Inspired.
  • By the picture, I would surmise that this is the story of an aging pirate with a bad hairpiece and massive pit stains who wants nothing more than for Maria from "Sound of Music" to admire his chest hair.

Page 123~

"Oh, forget your damned clothes. Does your eye hurt?"

I can't believe I just Page 123'd William Faulkner. John Faulkner, sure, but William? The indignity!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Paperback 188: Witch of Salem / Benjamin Siegel (Gold Medal 307)

Paperback 188: Gold Medal 307 (PBO, 1953)

Title: Witch of Salem
Author: Benjamin Siegel
Cover artist: A. Sewell (not sure where I got this info ... you can see the initials "A.S." in the bottom left corner)

Yours for: $13

Best things about this cover:

  • The trees. I mean, Goody Housewife is very hot and all, even in the Dracula cape, but those trees are something else.
  • "The exciting story of a woman ... who was concerned that it might be starting to rain."
  • I like that the dying of men and women and the fighting of God and Satan are made to sound like coincidental events. "People were dying everywhere you turned. Meanwhile, at God's house ..."

Best things about this back cover:
  • "The children began it" is a horribly ominous sentence. Also, a horrible sentence. "It?" Man, don't make me go back into the previous paragraph looking for the referent.
  • "Too young for love" was, I believe, a Frankie Valli song from 1962

Page 123~

"Harboring a witch, she was. Two of them. And mayhap she herself is no innocent, though up to now Abigail has made no charge against her."

"Witch of Salem," by Benjamin Siegel. Additional dialogue provided by Yoda.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Paperback 187: Cabin Road / John Faulkner (Gold Medal 178)

Paperback 187: Gold Medal 178 (PBO, 1951)
Title: Cabin Road
Author: John Faulkner
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • "If you loved William, then it's within the realm of possibility that you might not hate ... John Faulkner!"
  • Erskine Caldwell paperbacks sold by the bushel, and they invariably featured unspeakably hot hillbilly women who had all their teeth. I guess the idea was that the poor were "earthy" (i.e. liked to do it). So there is a kind of post-"Tobacco Road" vogue in backwoods babery that you can see in a number of 1950s paperbacks.
  • Can a hillbilly be "ribald?"
  • This woman is a mess from the neck up. It's like someone photoshopped her head on wrong. Or broke her neck, waited for rigor mortis to set in, and then propped her up there.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Uh, nothing
  • Again with the "ribald"
  • See, I told you - "Tobacco Road"-ishness was clearly the selling point here
  • Steinbeck? *William* Faulkner? OK, now you're pushing it
  • "Earthy" "Ribald" "Lusty" ... "female problems"!? Does that mean the same thing it means now? Hey, what does it mean now? Wasn't that the name of a movie starring Divine?

Page 123~

"I don't see nothing to want to stand over there about," George said. "Hit looks like to me the floor's about the same as it is where at you're standing, what of it you can see fer them dogs. Ain't you comfortable there?"

I'm ... going to need a translator.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Paperback 186: Danger Is My Line / Stephen Marlowe (Gold Medal 947)

Paperback 186: Gold Medal 947 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Danger Is My Line
Author: Stephen Marlowe
Cover artist: Uncredited (looks like Barye Phillips a little)

Yours for: SOLD! (Jan. 11, 2009)

Best things about this cover:

  • "Oh, don't mind me, I'm just..."
  1. "tying my ... pump"
  2. "doing some very advanced step aerobics"
  3. "trying to figure out the most auspicious way to present my magnificent rear end to the world"
  • Chester Drum looks like he's prepping to give someone a very unpleasant exam
  • "Danger Is My Line" is a beyond-lame title - along with the author's last name (Marlowe), it furthers the impression that the book will be a horrid rip-off of Chandler (who wrote "Trouble Is My Business")

Best things about this back cover:

  • So Chester Drum is ... a lamb. Either that, or one of Mary's lambs wants to screw her.

Page 123~

Maybe he got the belly from drinking too much beer or maybe he got it from eating criminals alive - but the overall impression he gave, penguin-body, rimless hexagonal glasses, merry twinkling eyes, was about as deadly as a house-cat's. Still, I told myself, these things are relative - house-cats are pretty deadly: to rats.

"Deep Thoughts," by Chester Drum


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paperback 185: Honey West: Dig a Dead Doll / G.G. Fickling (Pyramid R-1355)

Paperback 185: Pyramid Books R-1355 (2nd ptg - 1st thus, 1966)

: Honey West: Dig a Dead Doll
Author: G.G. Fickling
Cover artist: photo cover

Yours for: $11

Best things about this cover:
  • Alliteration? Check. Hot girl with gun? Check. Ocelot? Check.
  • Fencing in the foyer!
  • The Honey West novels were first published before the TV series, then reissued as TV tie-ins like this one. The series was short lived. More here.
  • This cover makes me sad, as I am sure that cat is drugged

Best things about this back cover:

  • Grrrr. Seriously, grrr, taking this fucking leash off, lady.
  • "Look, I give. You are very, very hot. I can't deny it. Now just put down the gun and dear god let the cat go already ..."

Page 123~

He shoved an elbow in my ribs. ". There is no place better to hide a body, no?" His eyes slid down to my hips. "Speaking of bodies, it is a shame to hide yours."

"Thanks," I said, patting his swarthy cheek. "You're not so bad after all."

Non-threatening lecherous Mexicans who love word play = comedy gold.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Life on Mars" gets the pulp cover treatment

Check out this awesome tribute to detective Ray Carling (played by "Sopranos" vet Michael Imperioli) from TV's "Life on Mars":

X Offender: Ray Carling by *suburbanbeatnik on deviantART

The reason I feature it here is because it was directly inspired by the covers of one of my paperbacks - a cheesy 70s version of Gil Brewer's "The Squeeze" (Paperback 43):

I actually watch "Life on Mars," so I find this visual tribute to the show super cool.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Paperback 184: The Case of the Haunted Husband / Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket Books 4512)

Paperback 184: Pocket Books 4512 (11th ptg, 1962)

Title: The Case of the Haunted Husband
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Cover artist: McGinnis or an imitator

Yours for: $8

Best things about this front cover:

  • "Well, hello there, Tall, Dark and ... Immaterial."
  • I think she is the one being haunted. Not to nitpick, but ...
  • "Even after death, Steve was an abusive alcoholic asshole" - seriously, he's totally going to throw that miniscule, undead martini in her face
  • I love McGinnis and McGinnis-esque women; I can never tell what age they are - they have young women's bodies, I guess, but there's a maturity to them that is world-wise and dead sexy. Women, not girls.
  • This woman, while very hot, has some evolutionary defect, as her right "hand" is clearly some kind of withered, three-fingered claw / lizard appendage.
  • The early 60's were all about the Down Arrow! Why, who can forget Paperback 181 ...?

Best things about this back cover:

  • Random arm!
  • I question the editorial decision to leave back-cover readers with the word "stink" lingering in the air

Page 123~

"Did you examine the steering wheel of the car to see whether there were any traces of lipstick on it?"

Sometimes I like to put lipstick on my steering wheel ... you know, so I'll have someone (imaginary) to talk to on the way to work.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Paperback 183: Death is the Last Lover / Henry Kane (Avon T-291)

Paperback 183: Avon T-291 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Death is the Last Lover
Author: Henry Kane
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $13

Best things about this cover:

  • The color scheme. It's gutsy - pink, baby blue, and then ... some kind of maroon
  • The title - sensationalist writing at its best / worst. Does she literally sleep with Death, or does her John kill her, or what?
  • Thank god Death was her last lover - that makes a much better title than "Herb the Copier Salesman from Wichita is the Last Lover"
  • Her face is unfortunate. The painting makes her look vapid, which is inherently unsexy. I do dig that oversized hat box she's sitting on, though. Her legs and cleavage aren't awful either.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Personally, I like "bosoms and brandies" with pretty much anything.
  • That negligee has too many adjectives. It stopped being sexy right around adjective #3
  • Oh look, it's that insipid face again. Nope, it's no sexier in blue tone.

Page 123~

I sat near her, enjoying the warmth of her thigh. "Honey," I said, "you're a nice, sweet, attractive gal, and I'm crazy about you."

"Yeah, I remember," she said.

Wow, she talks a lot cooler than she looks.