Showing posts with label Killer POV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killer POV. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Paperback 694: Stop This Man! / Peter Rabe (Gold Medal 763)

Paperback 694: Gold Medal 763 (2nd ptg, 1958)

Title: Stop This Man!
Author: Peter Rabe
Cover artist: Darcy

Yours for: $14


Best things about this cover:
  • A great, brutal cover marred only by the stupid slab of yellow Erskine at the top.
  • Love the unfinished quality of painting toward the bottom, the obvious dilapidation on the ceiling, the dynamic use of perspective, the framing of his left hand in the dead middle of the page, the believable fear on her face, the simple, understated, off-center title ... all fantastic.
  • Not sure what that shirt's made of though? Taffy?


Best things about this back cover:
  • OK, is it "could not put this book down," or, as the cover clearly states, "couldn't put this book down." I call bullshit.
  • I love (sarcastically) how this book basically belongs to Erskine Caldwell now. Sorry, Peter Rabe. I know it must be tough to get shown up on your own cover(s) by a 3-to-1 margin, but that's show business. Gotta move product.
  • The NYT review clearly has no appreciation for how much I like "the lurid modern crime thriller."

Page 123~

They put handcuffs on the Turtle and put him in a police car. Then they drove him downtown, to the office of the FBI. The Turtle didn't say anything during the long ride. He didn't think that funny talk would make any difference any more.

Aw, c'mon, The Turtle, you're not trying hard enough. Do your Nixon impression!


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paperback 601: Ace Double D-347 (1st ptg / PBO)

Title: Play For Keeps / The Corpse Without a Country
Authors: Harry Whittington / Louis Trimble
Cover artists: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $25


Best things about this cover:
  • Perspective!
  • Other shoe!?
  • Come on, Vogue!
  • Garters!?!?! Even in imminent-death, sexy as hell.
  • I am very, very, very distracted by the placement of his pinky finger / left side of his hand.
  • Is that Fear Hand or Buh-Bye Hand?
  • "GOOD"!!! LOL x a million.


Best things about this other cover:
  • Death Is A Sexy Southern Belle Raining Fuchsia Death From Above.
  • The Corpse Had Womanly Hips.
  • Actually, that looks like me coming out of savasana at the end of yoga class.

Page 123~

"I should have killed you. I knew. When you came in. You'd figured it. I knew. I saw it in your face."
"Too bad, Tony. It's all too bad."

Too Bad Tony would be a great nickname. Also, "It's all too bad, Tony" would be the closing aria if this were a musical / opera.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paperback 439: The Dark Tunnel / Kenneth Millar (Lion Books 48)

Paperback 439: Lion Books 48 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: The Dark Tunnel
Author: Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald)
Cover artist: E. Walter

Yours for: $28


Best things about this cover:
  • It's like we've caught her midway through morphing into a snake.
  • Why is she looking at us? Her potential killer is ... there. Over there. To your left, lady. Stop looking at me, Serpentina!
  • Of all the gay taglines I've seen, this one of the weakest. Tells me nothing about what happens. No sense of story. No sense of action. Tagline doesn't clearly go with picture. Yuck.
  • "Dark Tunnel" is a not-very-subtle title for a novel pre-occupied with homosexuality.


Best things about this back cover:
  • The dark tunnel is all of a sudden a bright doorway.
  • Lion deals with male homosexuality on its covers more frequently and earlier than most other publishers. It's truly remarkable how obsessed the cover copy is with the gender/sexuality of this spy—which is not even an important issue in this book until the end, and even then seems more tacked-on than essential (if I'm remembering correctly—I could be conflating it with "I, the Jury").

Page 123~

I went into this inner room to look up 'taillour.' My throat was constricted with excitement. For the first and last time in my life, I knew how philologists must feel when they're on the track of an old word used in a new way.

And this immediately becomes the nerdiest thriller of all time. Sidenote: This scene takes place at the Middle English Dictionary, housed at University of Michigan, where both Kenneth Millar and I earned Ph.D.s in English (50+ years apart). The Dark Tunnel was his first novel (orig. pub'd 1944).


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paperback 302: Behold This Woman / David Goodis (Bantam 407)

Paperback 302: Bantam 407 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Behold This Woman
Author: David Goodis
Cover artist: William Shoyer

Yours for: $40

Best things about this cover:

  • Only four?
  • Behold these boobs!
  • Love the guy's hand: "... must ... not ... fondle ..."
  • Notice how often woman is front and center on pb covers while man is off to side, lopped off, seen from behind, kind of in shadows, etc. Woman is meant to be a very particular dish, while man is usu. a kind of Everyman. Or Anysap, I guess.
  • Now that I look more closely at the picture, I think that the guy is an interior decorator who is having a coronary after witnessing the pink rococo orgasm that is this room.

Best things about this back cover:

  • I'm going to go with ... the knife jammed into the window sill. Yes, that's the best thing.
  • Actually, I'm loving the little blue and pink Yes / Buts.
  • Wow, the original cover girl for "Behold This Woman" was all kinds of ugly.

Page 123~

The gray-haired man was annoyed. "What do you mean, help you?" he said. "What do you take me for, an ignoramus?"


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paperback 298: Call Me Deadly / Hal Braham (Graphic 152)

Paperback 298: Graphic 152 (PBO, 1957)
Title: Call Me Deadly
Author: Hal Braham
Cover artist: Walter Popp

Yours for: $30

Best things about this cover:

  • Nearly everything — this is late 50s paperback gold. Love the weird cropping provided by the ornate frame, and then again by the beaded curtain! Then there's Fabulous Girl Art (killer dress), jazz guitar, mystery hand w/ gun, Broderick Crawford lookalike with fat cigar ... all in a tight, barely read paperback.
  • The title is awesome in inverse proportion to the cover painting's awesomeness, i.e. the title is a sad, unimaginative rip-off of a Mickey Spillane title (movie version of which came out just a couple years before this novel). Paint brush font on "Deadly" is kind of cool, though.
  • Love Graphic Novels for their (frequent) crediting of the cover artist on the publishing info page, though here you can actually see the artist's signature (right under "25c").
  • Gun/vagina proximity here is oddly common. Here's a variation. There will be more. Maybe I should make "guncrotch" a label... oh, wait, it already is.

Best things about this back cover:
  • See that red dot separating the paragraphs? It's like it was drilled into the cover with a bore. Deeply embossed. Weird as it sounds, it's the first thing about this cover that caught my eye.
  • Love their dockside dancing! Put any energetic music on your iTunes and then look at this painting. They are totally dancing. Nothing else can explain what she's doing with her left hand (mysterious hand gestures ... seems like a recurrent theme).
  • I love how the cover copy starts out campy and ends up in nearly incoherent lunacy.
  • "... between them, an unholy shadow murmured: 'There's no way you can tightrope walk in that dress, Gini ... Go on, I dare you ...'"

Page 123~

She said finally, "So this is the lion's den. What do you do with your spare time, Dillon?"

I shrugged. "I have the television for sport, there are books and records. It depends."

"Gets a bit monotonous, doesn't it?"

"It does," I admitted.

This is like the "Don't" column from a 1950's "How To Pick Up Hot Chicks" manual.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paperback 296: The Dreadful Night / Ben Ames Williams (Popular Library 155)

Paperback 296: Popular Library 155 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: The Dreadful Night
Author: Ben Ames Williams
Cover artist: Rudolph Belarski

Yours for: $16

Best things about this cover:

  • "Hello, police, I'm being pursued by ... hello? ... damn, this isn't my phone!"
  • Rudolph Belarski: Master of DramaticHands (TM)
  • That look is not fear. It is sadistic glee. And the man with the hands is not coming after her. He's about to keel over backwards. See, she has just plucked his heart from his chest with one vicious, kungfu strike. "Ha, take that, you bastard! Hey, I can hear the ocean in this thing..."
  • "A Novel of Love, Hate and Death" — yep, that pretty much covers it.
  • That's some structured swimwear, that is.
  • Why is she at the seashore during a thunderstorm?

Best things about this back cover:

  • Text me!
  • "Adah Capello!" — no offense to all the ADAHs out there, but come on!
  • God, these Popular Library back cover write-ups are dreadful. It's like a 9-yr-old kind of sort of recounting what happens in a book he's just read.

Page 123~

Marco the dog was there [I want to stop the quote right there], swimming this way and that, barking incessantly in a frenzied and pitiful fashion; behind his head a wide ripple spread as he quested to and fro..."

Uh ... "quested?" Is he a knight-dog?


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paperback 282: If the Coffin Fits / Day Keene (Graphic 43)

Paperback 282: Graphic 43 (PBO, 1952)

Title: If the Coffin Fits
Author: Day Keene
Cover artist: uncredited

Yours for: $50

Best things about this cover:
  • One of the greatest hypo covers of all time (yes, "hypo covers" is a thing — very collectible)
  • And the award for "Most Realistic Depiction of Hand Hair" goes to ...
  • God that spike is glorious. I almost want to start doing heroin just to experience the feel of something so elegantly designed.
  • Joe Shirtless does Not want to shoot up, but stone-faced blond guy can't wait. He has that barely-contained psycho-sadistic look about him. I think it's the posture, plus the intent stare: [Trembling ever-so-slightly] "This is going to be @#$#ing awesome!" Maybe he's a hypo connoisseur. Or just likes handling terrified man flesh.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ugh, small type. Less is More!
  • This book should be called "Badger Game" — I'd read it just to figure out what the hell that phrase meant.
  • Why is "Jail Bait" capitalized and italicized? Is it a novel? (actually, it is, and I own it, but I don't think the book is what's meant here).
  • "Mr. Big" — Ouch. One million points off for lack of originality.

Page 123~

I said that was a lot of heifer dust. He was inclined to argue.

I believe "heifer dust" = "bullshit," but it would be a great street name for some drug ... something way, way worse than "angel dust." "We cut the PCP with cow shit ... try it!"


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperback 166: Wild Wives / Charles Willeford (RE/Search, unnumbered)

Paperback 166: RE/Search nn (unknown ptg, 1987)

Title: Wild Wives
Author: Charles Willeford
Cover artist: Terri Groat-Ellner

Yours for: $25

Best things about this cover:
  • "Go on, big boy. Do your worst! I ain't ascared of your gun."
  • Something about her pose makes her look not sexy but lopsided. Like her torso is the upper layer of a cake that is shifting.
  • I don't know what you call this style of dress, but it is hot. Hott.
  • I need a word for "gun/crotch" interaction. Wait. I think I just coined it.
  • It's weird / disturbing the lengths to which the gun/phallus connection can be taken in cover art

This is a late 80s reprint of a 1956 paperback ("Wild Wives" was first published as a special bonus story within the covers of another Willeford novel, "High Priest of California").

Charles Willeford is a Noir Fiction god. Coincidentally, I just finished teaching his "Pick-Up" in my crime fiction class (seriously, just finished ... yesterday). Smart, beautifully (clearly) written, often funny, and, in parts, genuinely shocking. I have a strong hankering now to read as much of his stuff as I can.
This reprint is surprisingly rare, hence the price. Willeford is pretty collectible in any form (except, perhaps, the Library of America version I used in my class - that volume ("Noir Fiction of the 1950s") is gold: Highsmith, Thompson, Himes, Goodis, and Willeford. Here's a review by Terry Teachout (another weird coincidence - I just mentioned Teachout, specifically his bio of Mencken, in my last post for this blog)

Best things about this back cover:

  • Blurbs from actual people / media outlets you might have heard of
  • What is with the insane, jagged, fire-licking design?
  • This book is dated 1987 ... and yet we are told that Willeford died in 1988 ... That's foresight.
Page 23~

I gathered the heavy tweed of her skirt in my hands, and lifted. The heat of her body reached out for my hands. The flesh of her was firm and yet oddly relaxed.

The rest of the quote you can see in bold on the back cover of the book (!).


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Paperback 23: Hillman 18

Paperback 23: Hillman 18 (1st ptg, 1949)

Title: Collusion
Author: Theodore D. Irwin
Cover artist: N/A

Yours for: $12

Best things about this cover:

  • Jazz hands!
  • "What a scoop!" - that giant flashbulb is hilarious
  • That headboard! Where do you get something like that? Versailles? Goes great with the cheap red veloure bedspread and motel-grade bedside table and lamp.
  • Her hair! (so tightly coiffed)
  • Her eyebrows! (so highly arched / obviously penciled)
  • What's the story here? "Woman Found in Bed ... Alone!"

Best things about this back cover:

  • "... but divorces are made on earth?" Not where I thought you were going.
  • "Night years," cute
  • "A sincere plea for more liberal divorce laws" - 'cause nothing says "sincere plea" like a lingerie-laden paperback
  • Check out the other authors in the Hillman stable: lots of nobodies with three names ... and Balzac.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Paperback 20: Graphic 55

Paperback 20: Graphic 55 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: A Shot in the Dark
Author: Richard Powell
Cover artist: Unknown

Yours for: $9

Best things about this cover:

  • "I'm dancing as fast as I can!"
  • "What's a pretty girl like you doing in a grotto like this?"
  • Artist has no sense of perspective - assailant appears to be pointing gun at some object well off-screen to the left
  • That's some intense light in her ... crotch region
  • You know what this cover needs? A boat. Hey, look! I found one - just under her left elbow (honestly, before uploading this picture, I had never noticed the boat, even though the first line of copy on the back cover mentions "salmon fishing in Canada"...)


Monday, August 6, 2007

The Great Paperback Project - Paperback 1: Ace Double D-27

As some of you know, and most of you don't - why would you? - I have a fairly sizable collection of Vintage Paperbacks. They date from about 1939 (the beginning of mass-market paperbacks) to about the mid-'60s, when book design (especially the covers) started to get unimaginative and ugly. I like beautiful books. With libraries so abundant, there is little point owning books any more unless they a. are very useful to you, or b. are beautiful. Cheaply made books with stupid, generic, cooked-up-in-some-marketing-lab covers depress the hell out of me. Someday, I will share with you my theory of contemporary book design (including the ironic similarity between the cover art of "women's literature" and snuff films), but for now, I begin a much happier project - putting my beautiful books on display, web-style! A few times a week, I will post a new picture of a vintage paperback cover from my collection. At that rate, my entire collection should be on-line in about ... 12-15 years. May we all live that long.

These covers will appear in no particular order (just as the books sit on the massive shelves next to me). I pull book off shelf, I scan, up it goes. I hope to spread some wee bit of appreciation for the beauty of mid-century paperbacks. I knew nothing about them until I stumbled on pictures in Robert Polito's great Jim Thompson biography. I found out that I could Never afford any of Thompson's paperback originals (not true, I own a couple now), but when I went into one of the many local used bookstores in Ann Arbor, I found that there were lots of Thompson-era (i.e. '50s) paperbacks lying around, lots of them with sensational cover art, and often available for reasonable prices. So I started buying. And buying. And Buying. This is what I did instead of writing my dissertation. Seriously. Thank you, Mellon Foundation. I know I didn't get my dissertation done during my fellowship like I was supposed to, but I amassed a hell of a paperback collection, so your money was well spent.

Paperback 1: Ace Double D-27 (PBO / 1st ptg, 1953)

Titles: Double Take / The Fingered Man
Authors: Mel Colton / Bruno Fischer
Cover artists: "Paul" / Norman Saunders

Yours for: $17

"Don't shoot him! He's doughy. Shoot me between the shoulder blades instead."

Best things about this cover:

  • She is hot
  • Tag line: "She Was Hard To Meet And Deadly To Know" - "Meet" and "Know" are like the least active active verbs ever ... unless "Know" is biblical, in which case I take it back
  • Brightness of her clothes (and lips) against drabness of the rest of the scene
  • Love the "Killer's Eye View" - you'll see a number of these in my collection
  • The gun is her spine - lots and lots of interesting / disturbing juxtapositions of women and weapons in my collection
  • That's the roomiest interior I've ever seen on a standard automobile

And on the Flip Side...

"OK, ma'am, first thing you're going to want to do is stop choking yourself."

Best things about this cover:

  • Her insane eyes, and insaner mouth
  • The haunted phone that has wrapped its tentacle around her arm and is now forcing her to choke herself
  • The gigantic, unmelting blocks of ice that look like three cars trying to pull into a narrow glass tunnel
  • The original title: "Quoth the Raven," HA ha. Literary!
  • The artist's signature ("Saunders") nestled along the edge of the newspaper

Ace Doubles are iconic mid-century paperbacks. Almost all paperbacks cost just a quarter from 1939 well into the '50s, but Ace Doubles were a little more, for good reasons. Double the content, double the cover art. Value!

One down, a couple thousand to go.