Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Heat Is On: You’re Lonely When You’re Dead

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

You’re Lonely When You’re Dead, by James Hadley Chase
(Popular Library, 1951). Illustration by Willard Downes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Heat Is On: Illicit Desires

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Illicit Desires, by H.M. Appel (Quarter Books, 1949).
Illustration by George Gross.

Down Under Stand-out

Jenny Grigg’s design for The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton’s historical mystery novel from last year, is among the shortlisted contenders for the 2014 Australian Book Design Awards. Learn more here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Heat Is On: Case of the Brazen Beauty

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Case of the Brazen Beauty, by Jonathan Craig, aka Frank E. Smith (Flamingo Books, 1973). Illustration by Ron Lesser.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Heat Is On: Two Hot to Handle

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Two Hot to Handle, by Ed Lacy (Paperback Library, 1963)--contains two novellas, “The Coin of Adventure” and “Murder in Paradise.” Illustration by Charles Copeland.

Further Adventures of Jim Rockford

In honor of Oklahoma-born actor James Garner, who passed away last night at the tender age of 86, I am posting the covers from The Green Bottle (1996) and Devil on My Doorstep (1998), two novels by Stuart M. Kaminsky that were based on Garner’s popular 1974-1980 NBC-TV private-eye series, The Rockford Files. (These came out, by the way, during the same period when Garner was appearing in a short series of Rockford reunion movies on television.)

During an interview I did with Kaminsky in 2002, I brought up the subject of these two books:
JKP: [L]let me ask how you came to write to write your two Rockford novels, The Green Bottle and Devil on My Doorstep. Was this your idea?

SMK: I was and am a big
Rockford Files fan. Tor Books and the series' producers came to me to ask if I might be interested in writing original Rockford novels. They knew of my love for the series. We negotiated, I eagerly agreed and that was it.

JKP: What did you hope to do with Jim Rockford that hadn't already been done in the course of the original series or the spin-off movies that followed it?

SMK: I wanted simply to be true to the
Rockford characters and work within the same vein, so that readers would welcome them back. The one contribution I made--besides, I hope, my creativity and originality--was to depict an older, more resigned Jim Rockford in keeping with James Garner's age.

JKP: You told me not long ago that you don't think you'll be doing any more Rockford novels. Why is that? Did the books not sell well enough?

SMK: The books sold well. I'm not sure why they didn't want me to do more. I would have been happy to do so.
Garner’s sad demise makes me want to go back and re-read both of these novels. Maybe I’ll do that after I have finished marathon-watching episodes of The Rockford Files, to remind myself of just what a fine and magnetic performer Garner could be.

The cover illustrations for the Forge paperback editions of The Green Bottle and Devil on My Doorstep displayed above are credited to versatile artist Steve Chorney.

“Feast Your Eyes”

Last month, Thriller Books Journal honored my main blog, The Rap Sheet, with a mention on its list of “crime fiction blogs worth investigating.” Today it adds Killer Covers to that growing roster. Giuseppe Pastore writes:
Yay! I could spend all day on this wonderful site, which brings together all the shlockiest and yet coolest retro thriller covers you’ve ever seen. Even their site banner (by Rob Kelly) oozes cool. Feast your eyes, shweethearts.
Thank you very much, Giuseppe, for your support.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Heat Is On: Summer Widow

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Summer Widow, by Florence Stonebraker (Beacon, 1961).
Illustration by Al Rossi.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Heat Is On: Murder Is Where You Find It

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Murder Is Where You Find It, by Robert P. Hansen (Permabooks, 1957). Illustration by James Meese.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Heat Is On: Summer Heat

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Summer Heat, by Morgana Garson (Softcover Library, 1965).
Illustrator unknown.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Heat Is On: The Dreamers

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

The Dreamers, by J. Bigelow Clark (Permabooks, 1955).
Illustration by Stanley Borack.

Salacious but Still Popular

Los Angeles police detective-turned-author Paul Bishop is currently in the midst of posting his recent interview with Robert Deis (aka Subtropic Bob), the chief honcho over at Men’s Pulp Mags. They discuss the roots of Deis’ interest in men’s adventure magazines, his association with big-time collectors of those publications, his work on Weasels Ripped My Flesh! (a 2013 compilation of vintage magazine stories), and a great deal more. Part I of their exchange can be found here; Part II is here; and Bishop promises additions to come.

UPDATE: The third and final part has now been posted here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two-fer Tuesdays: Sea Hunts

A twice-monthly pairing of book covers that just seem to go together. Click on either of these images to open up an enlargement.

OK, I admit it: I had to look up where the Sulu Sea is to be found. Wikipedia says it’s “a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, separated from the South China Sea in the northwest by Palawan and from the Celebes Sea in the southeast by the Sulu Archipelago. Borneo is found to the southwest and Visayas to the northeast.” Got a fix on that? If not, refer to this map.

It was just the other day that I realized I had in my collection covers from not one, but two different paperback novels set in that tropical locale (which reportedly gave its name to helmsman Hikaru Sulu of Star Trek fame). The first, shown above and on the left, comes from the 1958 Pocket Books edition of The Sulu Sea Murders, by F. Van Wyck Mason. Originally published in 1933, this short tale of intrigue stars Mason’s once-popular series protagonist, Captain (later Colonel) Hugh North, an agent of G-2, U.S. Army Intelligence, introduced in 1930’s Seeds of Murder. I haven’t read the book myself, but the cover teasers lead me to understand that its plot focuses around “a top-secret microfilm, a fortune in pearls, and a killer who would do anything to get both!” A reviewer named Robert, at GoodReads, calls The Sulu Sea Murdersa fun little read.” He notes, however, that because the yarn was written 80 years ago, it contains “a lot of jingoism, racism, and a little homophobia thrown in for good measure. If you are hyper-politically correct, this probably isn’t the story for you; read it as an indication of the times in which it was written. It follows the classic ‘who-dunnit’ [style], but the setting is a military base in the Southern seas. The heat and the booze have everyone acting crazy, and North has his work cut out for him.”

Considerably less controversial is the cover painting on this paperback, which was done by James Meese, whose work I have applauded frequently on this page.

Now refer to the cover on the right, above. It’s off the 1964 Gold Medal edition of Assignment Sulu Sea, the 20th entry in prolific author Edward S. Aarons’ “Assignment” series, featuring tall, Cajun-blooded CIA agent Sam Durell (who debuted in 1955’s Assignment to Disaster). This book is also one I have not read, but I found the following reviewlet in the blog Mighty Blowhole:
Federal troubleshooter Sam Durell meets a girl from his childhood on a tropic [sic] island as he’s called in to discover the whereabouts of a hijacked submarine full of nuclear missiles and stop it from falling into the hands of the Red Chinese. The romantic entanglements between Sam and the girl are just a distraction from the espionage as he uncovers traitorous plots and the crazy plan of a local crime lord. The writing is tight and very descriptive and the story never stops moving, either with realistic action scenes or with intrigue.
Sadly, I was less successful in learning which artist was responsible for the book’s front. I did, though, discover that the same illustration--with somewhat better framing--was featured on this circa 1970 Fawcett reprint of Assignment Sulu Sea.

The Heat Is On: Resort Girls

Celebrating the delights of summer. Click here for the full set.

Resort Girls, by Charles X. Wolffe (Beacon, 1964).
Illustration by Robert Schulz.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Heat Is On: The Case of the Sunbather’s Diary

Five years ago, I posted a selection of summer-related paperback fronts in this blog. With the temperatures in usually pleasant Seattle soaring lately into the 80s and record 90s, I thought I ought to revisit that theme. So for the next couple of weeks, you can expect this page to be bursting out with sandy beaches, bikinis, smoldering lust, drifting sailboats, striped towels, and a few tall libations to keep the heat from causing too much trouble. Stay cool!

The Case of the Sunbather’s Diary, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket, 1962). Illustration by Robert McGinnis.