Friday, May 24, 2013

Paperback 644: The Talking Clock / Frank Gruber (Penguin 545)

Paperback 644: Penguin 545 (1st ptg, 1944)

Title: The Talking Clock
Author: Frank Gruber
Cover artist: H. Lawrence Hoffman

Yours for: $14


Best things about this cover:
  • Very early Penguin. More woodcut than painting. Not terribly exciting, but interesting as a historical curiosity. 
  • That's a 'stache variety you rarely see anymore. I'm gonna call it the "Germanic shopkeep."
  • This book is really well made. Spine lean and reading crease, but tight as hell, with perfectly even (and white pages). I think production quality might've dipped in future years.
  • According to interior inscription, this book was once owned by Laura Burns of 14642 Bringard Drive, Somewhere, U.S.A.


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Blurb, schmurb—buy some more of our damned books!"

Page 123~
"Hello, Madigan," he said. "I see the punk's talked to you."
Punk?" exclaimed Johnny. "Why the Lieutenant and I are practically pals. I help him solve his case. The tough ones."
Lieutenant Madigan grunted. "You know what happened in Hillcrest? And you, Mrs. Quisenberry?"
Bonita Quisenberry's face was like old ivory, yellow and hard.
I don't know what's happening here, but I do know this book has a woman named Bonita Quisenberry in it, which is more than enough for me. If I ever met a woman named Bonita Quisenberry, I would immediately ask her to run away with me. Or bake me a pie.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Jean said...

I once had a math teacher named Quesenberry, but I don't know her first name...

D.A. Trappert said...

The only address like that I find in Google Maps is in Detroit. From the looks of the picture of the house, I'm sure it is the same one.

Benjamin L Clark said...

I read The Navy Colt by Frank Gruber a couple years ago and it was pretty OK if you like that vintage. It was on a list of bibliomysteries, but was not. I think the only bilio-ness of that one was the PI and his sidekick hide in a library at one point, and my have posed as door-to-door Encyclopedia salesmen for two sentences.

Anonymous said...

5 minutes work on the internet and I found out the following: According to the 1940 census, Laura Burns lived at 14642 Bringard Drive, Detroit, MI, with her husband John and daughter Marilyn. She was born on 6 Feb 1909 and stopped hearing clocks talking on 27 Oct 1989. No Burns' live at that address today.

Darryl said...

Bonita means pretty or nice in Spanish & Portugese. It's also the name of a fish. So, if you're thinking of naming your daughter Bonita, think of how that will be used against her in Jr. High or High School. It's 10:1 that "Bonita smells like dead fish" is what she'll hear throughout her critical teen years.

Oh, they'll also probably dig up the old "there are two things in the world that smell like dead fish. One is dead fish.. " joke.

Karl said...

If it weren't for the title of this book, I'd swear that Mr. Germanic-Shopkeep-'stache is weirded out not by the clock, but by that creepy, googly-eyed penguin in the corner. I mean that little guy is-- ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO-PENGUIN!!

DemetriosX said...

This is mostly interesting as a step in the evolution of the paperback. Artwork is starting to creep onto the front cover, but we're still without blurbs or synopsis on the back. The quality of the paper is a bit surprising, considering this was published during the war.

There was a very good pitcher for the KC Royals back in the 80s named Dan Quisenberry. He was known as something of an oddball, saying things like, "I found a delivery in my flaw." Died much too young of brain cancer.

Frank Gruber on the other hand makes me think of Ed Gruberman from "Boot to the Head" by the Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Mr. Joyboy said...

Rex, the front-cover snark was nifty, but you just phoned in the back cover. How could you have missed a softball like 'Hag's Nook is your meat'?

Keir said...

How about a cover to one of Morris Renek's books in memory of his passing: