Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paperback 294: Lady in Peril / Ben Ames Williams (Popular Library 164)

Paperback 294: Popular Library 164 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Lady in Peril
Author: Ben Ames Williams
Cover artist: Rudolph Belarski

Yours for: $23

It's "LADY IN PERIL" week at "Pop Sensation" — three early Popular Library covers all featuring ... yes, you guessed it, LADIES IN PERIL. First up, "LADY IN PERIL" —

Best things about this cover:

  • "I'll be back in five minutes, I swear!"
  • You have to be superhot to pull off wearing that much of that color. This lady (in peril) succeeds. Dress alone = OK, but dress + long gloves = wow.
  • This cover rules and Rudolph Belarski was a pulp art genius. Such great lurid action. Just the idea of a lady dressed like this trying to escape out of what appears to be at least a second-story window — that's enough to convince me that peril is for real.
  • Hand-on-wrist action right in the dead center of the cover, combined with the vividness of her splayed, aqua hand, really creates a sense of immediacy here.
  • Her hair is fancy, her horrified expression believable, her rack exquisite.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Inspector Tope, HA ha. That character writes itself. Not enough fall-down-drunk detectives in the crime fiction canon for my tastes.
  • The sentence that begins "During..." is so convoluted that it makes me want to shoot myself, others.

Page 123~

And it was only when her back was turned that he realized she wore over her nightgown a negligee of metal cloth, bright as silver. This was Lola Cyr!

When are metal negligees going to make their comeback? I like a lady who's not afraid to wear chain mail to bed.


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Deb said...

Can't help but think about Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Couldn't I just have a little bit of peril?"

Evan Lewis said...

GREAT stuff, Rex. Can't get enough Belarksi.

Alix said...

Cover: Bad color for the gloves -- makes 'em look like old-timey surgical gloves.

Back cover: What nobody could afford to justify the type on the back cover? Or were they purposely going for a blank verse affect? Some of the least tense, absorbing text I've read in a while.

Page 123: Whoa -- a nightgown AND a negligee? And the negligee is somehow worn *over* the gown? This sounds awkward at best. And dear Lord, shouldn't a bright, silvery metal garment be detectable from ANY angle? Dude needs new specs.

Alix said...

Oh dear, lots of typos in the above comment. "Effect" for "affect", please, and a sweeping apology for everything else.

Brian Busby said...

A 'a negligee of metal cloth'? Sounds cold... and, possibly, sharp.

Tulse said...

By the author of "Title       Divided".

Why are pulp novel covers so often poorly typeset? They can pay somebody to create cool, evocative art, but can't get reasonable spacing on the text?

Ms Avery said...

I'm telling Mr. Avery I want a metal negligée for Christmas.

justjack said...

She was beautiful but damned.
She was damned beautiful.

MP said...

I've never heard of this book, and Williams has been largely forgotten, perhaps justifiably so. But in the mid-40s he wrote a pretty good thriller (of sorts) called "Leave Her to Heaven" that was made into an even better movie, same title. The novel is still in print and the movie became available on DVD about a year ago.

justjack said...

Leave Her To Heaven was a terrific movie. The scene on the lake is chilling. Who knew Gene Tierney could act?

fabio blanco said...

Booth Theather? That's a nice touch.

Michael5000 said...

Like Alix said, total blank verse effect. I want to read the back cover prose wistfully, with a portentious pause at the end of each "line." But cooler heads shall prevail.

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