Title: A Taste for Blood
Author: John B. West
Cover artist: Barye Phillips
Yours for: $6
Best things about this cover:
- Jeez, that's a Lot of blood. Hard to admire the naked lady with slasher movie-level gore on the wall.
- "Rocky Steele" is a name that one might call "over-compensating." It's a hair's breadth away from "Cock McJohnson."
- I have this theory that the P.I. novel essentially died in 1954 with "The Long Goodbye"; it devolves into self-parody after that (though there had been elements of self-parody almost immediately after the P.I. novel became a thing). This book is a minor but perfect example of what I'm talking about. Toughness, hardness—it's a formula, a pose. I know there are many fine practitioners of the P.I. novel who have written since and write now, but it usually feels like the author is wearing old clothes—might make 'em look good, but they're still a costume. A form of nostalgia. Signifiers standing in for substance. [I hope it's clear that I'm speaking narrowly of the traditional P.I. novel here—the crime fiction genre more broadly is clearly thriving—though Sturgeon's Law, as always, applies]
Best things about this back cover:
- Wait, my accountant wrote a crime novel?
- Ha ha, he's a physician! So let me start over: "Wait, my doctor wrote a crime novel!?"
- These fake little back-cover bios, where authors are made to seem like men's magazine adventure heroes, always slay me.
He thanked the operator and laid the phone down like it was a hand grenade and then turned back to me.
I'm no munitions expert, but is that what one does with a hand grenade? I'm having a hard time not picturing Rocky Steele just hurling the phone across the room then hitting the ground and covering his head.
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