Monday, May 25, 2015

Paperback 885: The Scarab Murder Case / S.S. Van Dine (Graphic 89)

Paperback 885: Graphic 89 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: The Scarab Murder Case
Author: S.S. Van Dine
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $15-20

Best things about this cover:
  • I seem to have entered the "Mystery Hands With Daggers" portion of my collection (?!).
  • "Uh, no thanks, I gave up stabbing. For Lent."
  • "Thanks, but my letters have all been opened. My nightgown, on the other hand ..."
  • If you wanna deflate her heaving bosom, you're gonna need more than a dagger, big boy.
  • I can't tell what tore a hole in the cover—the dagger, her smoky gaze, or her potent thoracic thrust.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Hmm, a tiki etui radio. Cool.
  • "Penetrates twisted passions"—there's no way the book lives up to the image in my head.
  • I've never been less convinced of something's best-ness.

Page 123~

"Why not try to cerebrate occasionally?"

Sadly, not a typo.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Karl said...

Yow, it's pointy boobs versus pointy dagger! And judging by that limp, yielding hand, the boobies have already won.

Re. page 123: Oh, great; for the next week or so I'm going to have Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" stuck in my head, only with all the "celebrate"s replaced with "cerebrate"s.

Cerebrate good times, come on!
(Let's cerebrate)
Cerebrate good times, come on!
(Let's cerebrate)

vintagehoarder said...

I've read some of Van Dine's mysteries, and they're mostly second-rate imitations of British Golden Age mysteries being published on the other side of the Atlantic. This cover looks like it belongs on something a lot more hardboiled--and a lot more interesting!

Rick said...

Ogden Nash famously wrote of Van Dine's recurring detective hero:
"Philo Vance needs a kick in the pance."
Does he ever....

A said...

A much classier version of 'Dagger of the Mind'

Anonymous said...

Clearly the author was left alone with the back cover blurb and a blue Sharpie just before they went to press...

Benzadmiral said...

I sampled S.S. Van Dine back in my early teen years, on the recommendation of John Dickson Carr, who'd written that Van Dine handled suspects "with dexterity." (Maybe that was some kind of special suspect-handling tool?) Alas, no. Philo Vance is annoying, polysyllabic, over-educated and always willing to show it off; and the plots aren't that good either. Van Dine wrote 12 in the series; I gave up after 4.
To be fair, they do date from the mid-1920s.

Ellery Queen modeled their detective, Ellery Queen, on Vance, because the Vance books were best-sellers in their day. But EQ had the sense to modify Ellery and make him more likeable, and fallible, over 45 years.