Friday, October 28, 2022

Paperback 1064: The Big Four / Agatha Christie (Dell 0562)

Paperback 1064: Dell 0562 (1st New Dell Edition, 1972)

Title: The Big Four
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: Uncredited

Condition: 9/10
Value: ~$10
Best things about this cover:
  • These objects-only covers are fairly common for Christie paperbacks of the '60s and '70s. I think (William) Teason is the name of the artist I know who has done several like this. Maybe this cover is Teason's work too, dunno. Anyway, it's very evocative ... of a certain ... criminal ... milieu ... but it's not terribly exciting.
  • The pearl-handled gun is gorgeous, as is the ornamental key. The noose is awfully, uh, circular. It's all so artfully arranged, like evidence that you just know is planted.
  • I'm curious about this font. And about the weird colors ... beige / yellow / beige ... that's one way to make sure the yellow doesn't pop. Then again, publishers have clearly learned to value marketing over art at this point, as Christie's name is big feature, and everything else merely decorative.
  • I want all the people in the photographs to be Doing Something! Making out, killing each other, something! To this cover's credit, I am curious to know how all this detritus fits into narrative form.
Best things about this back cover:
  • Back Cover Copy in C[heap pun] Minor
  • Wait, four men? I thought the photos on the cover were the Big Four, but one of those was a woman, so ... now I'm *really* intrigued (I've only ever read a few Christie titles in my life, if I'm being honest)
  • Bizarre to make such a superhero out of Poirot and yet depict him Nowhere on your cover. 
Page 123~
"Ernest Luttrell. Son of a North Country parson. Always had a kink of some kind in his moral make-up"
I am quite sure that what Christie means by "kink" and what I mean by "kink" are somewhat if not quite different from one another, and yet ... one can hope.


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DemetriosX said...

I guess part of the problem with non-hardboiled mysteries, especially cosy mysteries like Christie wrote, is that there isn't much in the way of action to depict on the cover. If you're in a period where the market frowns on corpses leaking blood on the cover, all you've got is tossing a few key elements onto the cover and hoping for the best. It probably helps if the name of the author or the detective does most of the selling.

I wondered about the Yellow Peril aspects, so I looked up when this was originally written (1927). Turns out the woman is the French scientist.

Rex Parker said...

I’ve got a Christie cover coming up that’s just brutal. But yeah cosy covers are often less … dynamic than others.


vintagehoarder said...

This book isn't a whodunnit and it's not at all typical of Christie. It's an episodic thriller in the Edgar Wallace mode, full of diabolical supervillains. As I understand it, it was originally published as a series of stories in a magazine early in her career, before she hit her stride writing the kinds of plots that made her famous.

JRSM said...

They're not exciting but when they're painted like this, rather than just a photo of assembled objects (see many '70s spy thrillers), they're so much more appealing.

Special sauce said...

I can't believe you're back !!!
To say that I missed your postings would be an understatement. I checked in regularly for a long time after you ceased posting new books, and as any addict knows, withdrawal isn't easy....
Eventually I checked in less often, but thought about your take on things like floating heads.... saw some recently and wondered what you would have said about them... anyway, for some strange unknown reason, I thought about you this evening and had a hard time even getting Google to co-operate finding you... naturally I thought the worst, the blogs disappeared!!!
Don't know why you took a hiatus, but so glad you're back on the job, and look forward to more of what you do best.
Anyway, if I come across that floating head book again, consider it yours.
So glad I checked in.

Special sauce said...

Waiting on that Christie cover. While I love vintage paperbacks in general, the mysteries are my favorites and the ones I initially started collecting, Agatha Christie's in particular.
When I couldn't find them at book sales, I started branching out...
Which is how you ended up with a box.
I started to see the beauty in all genres, and the rest is history.