Saturday, November 26, 2016

Paperback 982: Nothing More Than Murder / Jim Thompson (Dell 738)

Paperback 982: Dell 738 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Nothing More Than Murder
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: George Geygan

Estimated value: $60-75
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Seriously, what part of him is she stroking? It looks like a lion's paw is growing out of his stomach.
  • I think the bed is supposed to be on fire, but all I see is his hair on fire. Like, "Oh my god, she's stroking my paw ....!!!" and then cartoon fire shoots out of his head.
  • Her hair is nuts, but she is otherwise not hard to look at.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Love love love the color blocks, and the terse, terse blurbs.
  • More blurbs should be as succinct and enigmatic as "Strong meat"
  • But then "both in style and story" shoulda been lopped. Adds nothing. Why am I editing this back cover copy 60+ years after the fact!?

Page 123~

A couple of bobby soxers stood up near the popcorn machine, giggling and talking to Harry, and watching me out of the corner of their eyes.

The period of pulp culture I'm most interested in can probably best be defined as "that period during which the term 'bobby soxer' had currency" (so, '40s-'60s, give or take)


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Paperback 981: Hangover House / Sax Rohmer (Graphic 78)

Paperback 981: Graphic 78 (1st ptg, 1954)

Title: Hangover House
Author: Sax Rohmer
Cover artist: Uncredited

Condition: 6/10
Estimated value: $12-18

Best things about this cover:
  • Dang. That's one bad hangover.
  • The ever-so-delicate, blood red FEAR HAND
  • The line and shape and color of her gown and gloves, truly exquisite
  • Her molded plastic hair, however, yeeps.
  • Fantastic eyebrows. She looks a lot like ... that actress ... from "Downton Abbey" ... Dockery? Mockery? Clockery? Yes, Dockery. Michelle Dockery. Tuesday Weld meets Michelle Dockery.
  • Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you don't spend tomorrow in, well, the Hangover House.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Usually gay. Screw your categories.
  • Storm Kennedy LOL. Storm Kennedy, Porn Detective.
  • Jeez, explain the plot more, why don't you? Ugh.

Page 123~

"Titles? Yes. Mrs. Muller was playing a published song of mine, last night—after the band had gone: Summer Is Winter When You're Not Around."

I Feel Like They've Taken My Dog to the Pound...
I'm Haunted by Demons Who Don't Make a Sound...
I've Run Your Dad's Company Into the Ground...



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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Paperback 980: Away and Beyond / A.E. Van Vogt (Berkley F812)

Paperback 980: Berkley Medallion F812 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: Away and Beyond
Author: A.E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Estimated value: $10-15
Condition: 7-8/10 (near perfect, but w/ smushed corner on back cover)

Best things about this cover:
  • I feel like a crucial part of this scene is *just* off-cover: what is the humanoid figure holding / pointing toward / squeezing? Another humanoid? A Nobel Prize? Pancakes?
  • Powers could basically draw anything and it looked amazing. Who has any idea what is going on here? Who cares?
  • Loopy laser lines swooping in and out of figures. Structural, skeletal, electric.

Best things about this back cover:
  • August Derleth ... is not a dynamic writer.
  • Those samples are Unevocative. Scare quotes don't do what you think they do, copywriter.
  • Only way you're buying this is if you already like Van Vogt. Or are bored and will take a flyer on anything that looks this cool.

Page 123~

[from "Film Library"]

Mr. Arlay said, "Careful, Tania. We're almost at rock bottom."

Next time someone goes too far, forget "Slow your roll" or "TMI"—just tell 'em "Careful, Tania."


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Monday, November 21, 2016

Paperback 979: Caught / Henry Green (Berkley BG472)

Paperback 979: Berkley Medallion BG472 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: Caught
Author: Henry Green
Cover artist: photo

Estimated value: $30-50
Condition: 9/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Major English author, sleaze-ified. I love when that happens.
  • Get it? The net is because ... she's "caught." It's, like, a metaphor or something.
  • This book is exquisite. A booksale steal. Belonged to a distinguished professor at Binghamton University (he signed his name inside—the only thing keeping this from a 10/10 condition rating)
  • Armpits have their own tag on this blog. I am terribly proud of this.

Best things about this back cover:
  •  LOL scare quotes. "'Caught,' see? We're speaking metaphorically."
  • Look, if there's not an enmeshed naked dame involved, then I don't wanna know about it.
  • Most pulp paperbacks are not blurbed by Christopher bleeping Isherwood.
  • Just wanted to let you know that the teaser passage that precedes the title page of this book features this choice bit of prose: "She murmured to herself, 'THIS MAN'S MY GONDOLA...'" (emph. orig.)

Page 123~

"Now why, that's what we've got to consider," Pye heard as, in self defence, he let his eyes wander out to the cream yellow sunlight on the ungrowing, still winter grass. "Why," the voice came at him again, "Why? There must be a reason. That is where we want your help."

OK that is bleeping ominous. I really should read this guy.


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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Paperback 978: Pemmican / Vardis Fisher (Cardinal C-253)

Paperback 978: Cardinal C-253 (1st ptg, 1957)

Title: Pemmican
Author: Vardis Fisher
Cover artist: Daniel Schwartz

Estimated value: $7-10
Condition: 7/10

[from the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • The only thing scarier than her fright makeup is her linebacker hands. Look at those meat claws, dear god!
  • Why would you kneel in the river like that? Serious question.
  • Her mouth! We get it, she's "savage," dial it back.
  • I do like the way the light shines off her hip.
  • Chief Wahoo on Cleveland Indians uniforms. Dakota Access Pipeline. This dehumanizing shit must be exhausting.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ah, the "savage white girl" trope. See Natalie Wood in "The Searchers."
  • I wish this were titled "A Virile Young Scotsman, or, The Debauchery"
  • Rawboned! The bones of this book have not seen fire! Like sushi, are these bones!

Page 123~

"Coming!" he whispered.

He whispered with an exclamation point? Wow. Graphic.


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Friday, October 7, 2016

Paperback 977: The Weirwoods / Thomas Burnett Swann (Ace 87941)

Paperback 977: Ace 87941 (PBO, 1977)

Title: The Weirwoods
Author: Thomas Burnett Swann
Cover artist: Stephen Hickman

Estimated value: $5-10
Condition: 8/10

[Part of the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • Where woods? There woods.
  • Slow your roll, fantasy fiction Teri Garr.
  • That dress is pretty hot.
  • She doesn't have Fear Hand™but somethin' ain't right.
  • "Welcome ... to the Land of Towering Sex Toys. The pegasi will be here shortly to take you to pleasures unknown..."
Best things about this back cover:
  • Those are some respectable blurbs right there. Makes me wanna read this. LADY OF THE BEES also sounds promising.
  • This back cover's sense of the boundary between reality and fantasy seems a little feeble. Rome, real, Etruscans, real, Centaurs, uh ...
  • Well, sure, you name a guy Lars Velcha, what do you expect him to become?

Page 123~

She skittered down the trunk with the speed of a hungry squirrel.


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Monday, September 26, 2016

Paperback 976: Century of the Manikin / E.C. Tubb (Daw No. 18)

Paperback 976: Daw Books No. 18 (PBO, 1972)

Title: Century of the Manikin
Author: E.C. Tubbs
Cover artist: Jack Gaughan

Estimated value: $8-12
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • The latest anti-Hillary ad is pretty intense.
  • Not sure whom I'm supposed to support here, but I'm going with Tron-Medea over the nameless faceless horde of enrobed white dudes. History says: roll the dice on the tough broad.
  • Those spaceships are super-cool. Simple design, spooky design.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Drugs that controlled warlike emotions"—Ask your doctor about Negroni
  • Of course the feminist doesn't *really* want peace, she just wants to bitch you to death, [sigh] [shakes head] women, amirite? [trips over shoelaces]
  • You can't make an omelet without shattering a few civilizations.

Page 123~

A remarkable woman, he mused, leaning back, the skin sagging on his heavy features. Hard and strong and, in a way, ruthless, but they were qualities he could admire. A person who had fought all her life and was still fighting. And was still doomed, he thought bleakly. The disease from which she had run could not be cured.

I really didn't need this just 7 hours before the debate. I really didn't.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Paperback 975: The House That Stood Still / A.E. Van Vogt (Paperback Library 63-016)

Paperback 975: Paperback Library 63-016 (2nd ptg, 1968)

Title: The House That Stood Still
Author: A.E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $8-10
Condition: 9/10

Best things about this cover:
  • "Pete... do you see that?" "What?" "That house ... it's not moving. It's just ... sitting there." "Dear God! You're right! Call for backup."
  • "DO NOT LOOK BEHIND THE MASK OR YOU WILL SEE THE TERRIFYING VISAGE OF ... Shelley? Shelley from Accounting? What are you doing here?"
  • That ziggurat is gonna want to have that growth looked at.
Best things about this back cover:
  • "Obliterate the universe from the heavens"? This doesn't sound ... right.
  • Immortals are always trashing shit and running away.
  • That last sentence needs a huge spoiler alert. Why would I want to read now?

Page 123~

"What's the good of having a forty-year-old heart and a ninety-year-old liver?"


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Monday, September 19, 2016

Paperback 974: Escape to Earth / ed. Ivan Howard (Belmont L92-571)

Paperback 974: Belmont L92-571 (PBO, 1963)

Title: Escape to Earth
Editor: Ivan Howard
Cover artist: Ed Emshwiller ("emsh")
Designed by: Irving Bernstein

Estimated value: $15
Condition: 9/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Love the "Barbarella" vibe on this one (though "Barbarella" is still several years in the future).
  • This is late Emshwiller. Still great Emshwiller. Beautiful, decorative, intricate space-tech surfaces. Bottom half is not much to look at, but the top is lovely.
  • Novelets! Is that how you spell that? Reminds me of when I first saw "cigaret" (Raymond Carver). Disorientingly defrenchified.
  • Hilariously, Google dictionary flags "novelette" as "derogatory."

Best things about this back cover:
  • I like the red-bordered spreadsheet look. Very early-80s / "Stranger Things"
  • Hey, look!: credits not just for Emshwiller, but for the *designer* as well!? Why can't all books be this good about crediting the art people!?
  • Manly Banister is the politest porn name.

Page 123~

[from "Temple of Despair" by M.C. Pease]

"You're dressed like a priest," Brandis said; "I don't want to get stoned."

One of the great out-of-context lines in Pop Sensation history.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Paperback 973: The Road's End / Albert Conroy (Gold Medal 231)

Paperback 973: Gold Medal 231 (PBO, 1952)

Title: The Road's End
Author: Albert Conroy
Cover artist: [Barye Phillips]

Estimated value: $17-22
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • No joke, this dude looks eerily like 22-year-old me. Leering ladies in my doorway, not so much.
  • "There were too many women in his life"—you'd think at least one of them would help him clean that sty.
  • This appears to be some post-apocalyptic tale of drought, where water is money so you keep it close at hand and never wash anything.
  • Where ... did his fingers go? Fear claw!

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Curved feminine flesh" is less sexy-sounding than this book seems to think it is. More meat cut than sexpot.
  • "Who are you?" he asked. "And who am I?"—finally, a sleaze paperback that reflects the then-current trends in existentialist philosophy.
  • "I found a pasty man and put him in the shed. Can we keep him, mom? Can we!?"

Page 123~

My knee came up automatically and sank into his groin. And again. And again.

OK, I'm out.


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Friday, September 9, 2016

Paperback 972: The Doctor Died at Dusk / Geoffrey Homes (Dell 14)

Paperback 972: Dell 14 (1st ptg, 1943)

Title: The Doctor Died at Dusk
Author: Geoffrey Homes
Cover artist: William Strohmer

Estimated value: $15
Condition: 5/10

Best things about this cover:
  • I wonder about his right hand. What was he ... doing ... when he died? Loving his desk blotter?
  • Those are terrible, monstrous, pseudo-aquatic fingers.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Mapback!
  • Morgantown! Winner: Most Rectangular Town in America, 1943!
  • Morgantown! Winner: Most Sparely Appointed Town in America, 1943!
    Morgantown: Enjoy Our Vast, Vast Open Spaces and Seven Trees!

Page 123~

Ingram wasn't looking in the microscope now.

Be sure to catch the sequel to this book, entitled "No Time For Microscopes" (Fall 1944)


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Paperback 971: Convict Lust / Robert Wallace (France 58)

Paperback 971: France 58 (PBO, 1963)

Title: Convict Lust
Author: Robert Wallace
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $25-30
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Fishnet headboard. Interesting.
  • Bouffantastic!
  • Her get-up, despite color clashing, is pretty cute. Those stockings, however, were not meant to be seen below the ankle.

Best things about this back cover:
  • This non-centered block of text is oddly common. There doesn't appear to be any particular aesthetic at work. Maybe it adds the aura of "cheap and forbidden" the publisher's trying to create.
  • Hemingway's "The Killers" has a main character called "the Swede." I'm guessing this story isn't as good as "The Killers."
  • This book should've been called "His Welding Equipment."

Page 23~ (Page 123 being boring and unrepresentative)

A few hours ago I was a happy-go-lucky goof-off going on twenty-seven. Then I run into the best lay in the land and—presto! chango!—I'm an old broken-down jerkhead and frightened stiff.

You tell 'em, Chango! (rhymes with "tango"). P.S. the first sentence of this novel is "She ripped off her panties and hopped into bed." In medias res!


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Paperback 970: The Illustrated Man / Ray Bradbury (Bantam 991)

Paperback 970: Bantam 991 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: The Illustrated Man
Author: Ray Bradbury
Cover artist: [Charles Binger]

Estimated value: $15
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Happy Bradburthday! (b. Aug. 22, 1920)
  • Ooh, the rarely seen *male* Fear Hand. Cool.
  • First story in this collection is "The Veldt." It is holy-smokes great. Legendary. Rereading today.

Best things about this back cover:
  • This is the greatest back-cover bio of all time. OF ALL TIME.
  • Decry the hogwash!
  • After this book came out, Bradbury continued writing for another *60* years.
  • Had no idea he rocked the bow tie. Hot.

Page 123~

(LOL ... uh, this book is missing p. 121-152; not torn out, just ... never included!? Whoa. So ... p. 23!)

The first concussion cut the rocket up the side with a giant can opener. The men were thrown into space like a dozen wriggling silverfish. They were scattered into a dark sea; and the ship, in a million pieces, went on, a meteor swarm seeking a lost sun.

[Opening paragraph of "Kaleidoscope"] [insert quiet admiration here]


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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Paperback 969: Half-way to Hell / Serg Ross (France F41)

Paperback 969: France F41 (PBO, 1963)

Title: Half-way to Hell
Author: Serg Ross
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $20-25
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Feels closer than that.
  • It's like he emerged from the sea just to have his soul sucked out of his face.
  • The vibe here is so "Exploitation" that it makes me a little uncomfortable. The horrid decor. The cheesy plaid dude. The alcohol. Nothing good is happening here.
  • It's a fold-out cover, but not a continuation of the cover picture (thank god). Not gonna show it, as it is a photo of a random naked woman and you can see her nipple and while I know none of you care and I don't care, I've had my website(s) blocked for harmless stuff like that before. Also, the photo continues the ick vibe of this cover, and I think we've had enough. . . . wait, I can just block out the "offending" nipple ... hang on ... 


Gratuitous nude photo! Enjoy. Or don't.

And now the back cover:

Best things about this back cover:
  • I am not "highly stimulated" by any of this, especially with that damn monster-kiss hovering over everything.

Page 123~

"That's the bartendah, I take it?" Tom asked, pointing obviously at Adam. "Those niggahs are always late."

Ugh. This book is the worst. Booo!


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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Paperback 968: Eros Laughed / Bart Mayes (France Books F19)

Paperback 968: France F19 (PBO, 1962)

Title: Eros Laughed
Author: Bart Mayes —credited nowhere on either front or back cover :(
Cover artist: "Cover photo by Sam Wu" ("photo posed by professional model")

Estimated value: $25
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Jesus wept.
  • Is that a bare mattress?
  • It is at least somewhat remarkable that these books provide a *photographer* credit. Most paperbacks don't give their *fully painted covers* an artist credit.
  • This book is immaculate, but for a bent-up corner of the back cover.
Here's the fold-out!:
  • "Odd" and "ball" desperately want to be reunited. See also "twenty" and "eight."
  • Hey! Hidden lesbian content! That stuff's not normally, uh, hidden where these books are concerned.
  • Based on the last two France covers, it appears that what men want in their fold-out covers is a generous expanse of haunch. Nothing wrong with that.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Gonna start referring to myself as "on the dark side of thirty." I'm 46, so I think it works.
  • Wow this writing is straight terrible. First, it just doesn't got with the girl pictured. Second, the whole last third of the paragraph adds nothing to either the "eros" of the passage or to character development or Anything.
  • Oh, Gawd, indeed.

Page 123~

When Louise saw her fully clothed, she dressed, too, and they sat together tiredly, letting the coffee do its beneficial work.

Good ol' coffee. Doing the work. Easing the shame. My best friend.


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Friday, August 12, 2016

Paperback 967: Silent Sex / Jim Harmon (France F21)

Paperback 967: France F21 (PBO, 1962)

Title: Silent Sex
Author: Jim Harmon (credited on back) (?)
Cover artist: "Cover Photo by Ralph Poole / Cover posed by professional model"

Estimated value: $25
Condition: 8/10

Best things about this cover:
  • Doesn't sound like much fun tbh
  • Should the main visual component of the cover of a book called "Silent Sex" be the fabric pattern on the couch? Seafoam Sex!
  • France books are ... so odd. They combine the fanciness of a fold-out front cover with the low-rent ickiness of everything else. Here's the out-folded cover:

  • I guess we get a pretty good stretch of hind quarters there, but once again, I'm queasily mesmerized by the decor. Sex in a gilded frame!

Best things about this back cover:
  • Whoa. 1920s Hollywood? Did NOT see that coming.
  • Next time someone doesn't recognize your (or anyone else's) name, just follow it up with "... of the Purple Gloves?" and see what happens.
  • I want to like Sherri Novak because like me she appears to be a medievalist of sorts, but that blurb makes no sense.
  • I really want "Billy" to be a literal horse.

Page 123~

Now, six years later, he was sleeping at the side of a girl who had learned "tricks" from an under-the-counter book. Full circle.

He shook her awake. "Do the rabbit one again! Please!"


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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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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Paperback 965: Ruby MacLaine / John Roeburt (Hillman 151)

Paperback 965: Hillman Books 151 (PBO, 1960)

Title: Ruby MacLaine
Author: John Roeburt
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $6-9
Condition: 3/10

Best things about this cover:
  • So ... that is a plausibly human head, torso, and backside. After that, the wheels come off. She would have to have 10-ft-long legs for that foot size to be right. Also, no one can stand like that and not put at least *some* pressure on the bedclothes. But mostly, the problem is perspective. The bed looks like it's for a child, and the lamp and bedstand are comically small. Trump-hand tiny. Dollhouse tiny.
  • Still, credit where credit is due: the backside makes it highly unlikely anyone's fretting too much about the mini-furniture.
  • "FEEL MY MORBID POWER!" exclaimed a drunk and exultant John Roeburt as he stumbled along Broadway, a rumpled New York Times in his hand.

Best things about this back cover:
  • See. Back cover designer knew what to do with that front cover: CROP.
  • "Backstreet"? Take that, N*SYNC!
  • "There'll be compensations" is an utterly implausible bit of dialogue. Also, I was proposing ... asking ..." makes no sense. You were proposing or you were asking, but you were not proposing asking. Although maybe a guy who ruffles a girl's hair as a come-on has bigger problems than grammar.

Page 123~

"I want to be admired for my mind," Ruby said winkingly.
Coulter looked critically at her. "That was on the square," he said slowly.
She looked levelly at him. "I want resources other than just my sex."

Later, Coulter says, "I get the dig." That makes one of us, Coulter.


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P.S. the first line on the first (teaser) page of this novel is: "They made their agreement in a motel." I probably would've bought this book on the strength of that premise alone.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Paperback 964: This Kill Is Mine / Dean Evans (Graphic 131)

Paperback 964: Graphic 131 (1st ptg, 1956)

Title: This Kill Is Mine
Author: Dean Evans
Cover artist: Oliver Brabbins

Estimated value: $12-15
Condition: 7/10

Best things about this cover:
  • She knows we know she's justified. If anyone's begging to be shot, it's that guy. I can almost hear him saying "Cheers, m'lady [hic!]"
  • I'm oddly mesmerized by the lamp, which appears to be apparating.
  • I believe those are what Christa Faust would call "bitch eyebrows."
  • Liquor gone. Glasses empty. Nothin' left to do but shoot this bozo and burn the place down. (At least I assume what that matchbook in the foreground is for)

Best things about this back cover:
  • When Musical Chairs Gets Out of Hand.
  • She Taunted the Loser ... with Dance!
  • Awesome double fear-hand on our anonymous victim here.
  • I literally don't understand that first sentence.
  • "Arnold Weir figured" is an awkward way to intro your protagonist's name.
  • The more I read, the stranger—and less grammatical—this story gets.

Page 123~

Little burrs and clicks floated across space between us while I thought about it.
"All right," I said finally. "Your place."


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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Paperback 963: An Air That Kills / Margaret Mllar (Bantam A1979)

Paperback 963: Bantam A1979 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: An Air That Kills
Author: Margaret Millar
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-12
Condition: 6/10 (upper cover smashing—rest tight/square)

Best things about this cover:
  • An Air That Kills, eh? Well, I will say that a car plummeting off a cliff is an interesting way to represent a fart. Bold. I like it.
  • That embrace is impressive in its awkward realism and urgency.
  • Margaret Millar was a successful mid-century crime writer, married to Kenneth Millar (aka Ross Macdonald)

Best things about this back cover:
  • That's a glamorous ampersand.
  • Never did like giving over a third of the back cover to ads for other books. All space for art!
  • I'm not sure what's going on with these vaguely rectangular shapes that look like imaginary U.S. states (see white block here, red block on front cover). Odd aesthetic choices.

Page 123~

Harry wiped his face on a corner of the bed sheet, then held it against his mouth to stem the flow of hiccoughs. "My head hurts. I broke something. Did I—broke something?"

I like Harry. Harry seems nice.


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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Paperback 962: The Case of the Smoking Chimney / Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket Books 6014)

Paperback 962: Pocket Books 6014 (3rd ptg, 1960)

Title: The Case of the Smoking Chimney
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Cover artist: [Charles Binger]

Estimated value: $8-10
Condition: 9/10

Best things about this cover:
  • She's got something of the saloon about her.
  • Those gloves are off-the-chart hot.
  • So weird how they've given the curtains that hourglass shape. Actually, the longer I stare at the whole curtain scenario, the more it starts looking like ... something else entirely.
  • Text is as if written on surface of invisible floating sphere. Strange.
  • Most gigantic artist signature in cover art history and Of Course it gets cut off.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ooh, I like this. It's a great, simple, quick way of visually representing the Big Red Text.
  • Sideeye!
  • "The story they told was clear and obvious." No need to give you details. Your brain is doing fine providing those on its own.

Page 123~

"Well, you see it's this way," Gramps explained. "I've always been interested in crime stuff."

I feel you, Gramps.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Paperback 961: The Chocolate Cobweb + Who's Been Sitting in My Chair? / Charlotte Armstrong (Ace Double G-511)

Paperback 961: Ace Double G-511 (1st / 1st, 1962)

Title: The Chocolate Cobweb / Who's Been Sitting in My Chair?
Author: Charlotte Armstrong / Charlotte Armstrong
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Estimated value: $15
Condition: 7/10 (because of warp—else 9/10; square, shiny, unread)

Best things about this cover:
  • "Come away from the cobweb, dearie. I'm saving that one for company."
  • "It's chocolate!" "It's pica, dearie."
  • This isn't the first time Charlotte (Armstrong) has been associated with Webs...
  • Mystery writers are frequently praised for their "skill" (here, twice) as if they were performing a parlor trick as opposed to, you know, writing well. I just read a conventional mystery (by Helen Nielsen—Sing Me a Murder) and it was painfully contrived, as most puzzle-mysteries are (though Nielsen is a fine writer, in general). Chandler's "Simple Art of Murder" has made it virtually impossible for me to take the whodunnit seriously, or even enjoy it. Too much improbable nonsense and implausible, unprofessional, downright stupid gimmickry, all to make a complicated plot work out just so. Pass.

Best things about this other cover:
  • I love her so much.
  • She knows how to get comfortable. Kicked off the heels and curled up on the chair, just relaxing. Arm across the body says "Please &*%# off, I'm trying to enjoy my cigarette in peace, thanks."
  • The Girl Who Dreamed of Some Square Guy Holding What is Clearly a Desk Mic
  • "Authentic witches"?!—I don't know what you're on about, Anthony Boucher, but I'm intrigued.

Page 123~ (from The Chocolate Cobweb)

The little paw touched his tired head in a brief caress.

In a not-too-distant future, when dogs and humans have switched positions ... The Chocolate Cobweb!


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Friday, July 8, 2016

Paperback 960: Bedrooms Have Windows / A. A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner) (Dell 0511)

Paperback 960: Dell 0511 (1st New Dell ed., 1963)

Title: Bedrooms Have Windows
Author: A. A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
Cover artist: Darryl Greene

Estimated value: $15-20
Condition: 10/10 (a time-travel kind of copy, like it's 1963 again; unread, square, shiny, bright blue page edges, ridiculous)

Best things about this cover:
  • She looks worried. Maybe she needs Yet Another Cigarette.
  • How big is her bed? The headboard appears to start in the far corner of the room. Is her room just one big bed? That's pretty cool.
  • This cover is exquisitely balanced and demonstrates a nice attention to detail. I'm somehow transfixed by the latches, like miniature sentries at the bottom of the sill.
  • Gauzy curtain, also lovely. And that tension between the tightly enclosed, highly segmented left half of the window and the dramatic, animated, border-bursting right half—love it.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ooh, close-up. Normally I don't like recycled back covers, but this one makes nice use of that window gridding, covering the horizontally-lined left pane with horizontal lines of text, while leaving the right half airy and open.
  • God bless Dell for *clearly crediting* cover artists more than most other publishers.
  • I've written about this book before, in an earlier (1952) edition. Here's the cover:

And the write-up (Paperback 211!)

Page 123~

The taffy-haired blonde who was standing in front of the mirror, surveying her partially clothed figure with quite evident approval, was the girl who had picked me up the night before as her escort, and had taken me to the motor court. 

Aw, how quaint. "Motor court." You can do all kinds of illicit things in a "motor court" and still feel pretty good about yourself. It's positively Arthurian. "Casual sex, m'lady?"


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