Thursday, August 4, 2016

Paperback 966: I.O.U. Murder / William Francis (Signet 865)

Paperback 966: Signet 865 (1st ptg, 1951)

Title: I.O.U. Murder
Author: William Francis
Cover artist: uncredited

Estimated value: $6-10
Condition: 3/10

Best things about this cover:
  • This is pretty brutal. Normally, these dead-ladies-reclining-over-beds-or-couches covers are pretty sexed-up affairs, and there's definitely a sexual element here, but the violence of the scene, particularly her chillingly open eyes, really undercuts the eroticism. Which is probably as it should be.
  • That window is oddly free of ... well, everything.
  • That circle in the middle—the one that makes her look like she died doing some kind of odd trick with a hula hoop—is not original to the cover. Someone set something circular and tacky on the book, and then yoink: circle. Puts me in mind of a peeping tom's telescope lens. A happy accident.
  • I'd've fought hard for keeping "Rough on Rats"

Best things about this back cover:
  • A hard-boiled tagline if I've ever seen one.
  • Also, nothing says "hard-boiled" like "third-rate Los Angeles bar."
  • That last line spirals off into incoherent purple territory. Otherwise, fine, standard-issue crime fiction cover copy.

Page 123~

I waited in the car for Barney. He joined me in a few minutes and we drove back to the office and hauled the case up to my rooms. I paid Barney, and watched the elevator drop out of sight before I went in and locked the doors and opened the suitcase. It was full of round, flat cans, each of which held a spool of film.

The best part of this is that after the first sentence, my mind imagined the entire scene as part of an episode of "The Flintstones."


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Bram said...

And you know if it's Rockwell, it's hard-boiled.

vintagehoarder said...

Trivia time: in the 19th century there was a popular arsenic-based rat poison called "Rough on Rats". Needless to say, "Rough on Rats" was used to get rid of things other than rats - if you get my meaning!

Unknown said...

I think that's Robert Maguire's signature there at lower right on the table.