Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Two-fer Tuesdays: Fingers of Fate

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

In large part because he’s now been resting in his grave for more than eight decades, English journalist-author Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) is no longer the “synonym for crime fiction” that he once was. Yet, as Michael Mallory reminded us in the Summer 2013 issue of Mystery Scene magazine, Wallace was “one of the most popular writers of the early 20th century, and certainly one of the most prolific, … [turning] out an astonishing 130 novels (18 alone in 1926), 40 short-story collections, 25 plays, some 15 non-fiction books, plus journalism, criticism, poetry, and columns, in a little over 30 years. During his peak it was claimed that one-quarter of all the books read in England were penned by Wallace, and he remains one of the most filmed authors of all time.”

Remember, it was Wallace who penned The Clue of the Twisted Candle (1918), The Angel of Terror (1922), The Green Archer (1923), The Door with Seven Locks (1926), The Forger (1927), the J.G. Reeder detective stories, and half a dozen entries in his Four Just Men series (which inspired a 1959-1960 British TV drama starring Dan Dailey.) During the 1960s, British newsstands featured issues of Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine, and Wallace was also credited with writing the first draft of the screenplay for the blockbuster 1933 motion picture, King Kong—though, as this piece in The Guardian recalls, “He died in 1932 while at work on the script.”

Blue Hand isn’t among Wallace’s better-remembered works. However, one Goodreads reviewer calls it a “ripping yarn,” with “an excellent villain and plenty of dramatic, if far-fetched incident[s].” And Mary Reed, the co-author (with husband Eric Mayer) of the John the Lord Chamberlain mystery series (One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, etc.), says it offers “a few twists [that] will catch the reader by surprise.” She offers this synopsis of its plot:
Legal clerk Jim Steele VC is horrified when told by Eunice Weldon, the girl he loves, that she has taken the post of secretary to the mother of Digby Groat and is going to live in the Groat family home in [London’s] Grosvenor Square.

As well Jim might [be] … Among other things, [Digby Groat] is not above menacing his kleptomaniac mother and torturing small animals. His mother will inherit a fortune from her deceased brother on a certain date if her niece Dorothy Danton cannot be found. Since Dorothy disappeared in a boating accident while still a baby, and has not been seen since, it looks as if the Groats will soon be extremely wealthy. But Jim, who is interested in the Danton case, is determined they will never get their hands on the fortune.

The first night under the Groats’ roof, Eunice receives an unseen nocturnal visitor who leaves a card stamped with a blue hand, advising her to flee the house. Despite this ominous warning, after Jane Groat suffers a stroke Eunice stays on. Other blue hand marks appear at the house and soon the reader is in the thick of a plot featuring a mysterious veiled woman, drugs, gangs, derring-do on trains, in planes, and on the high seas, and a lot more besides. Aside: if this had been a film, no doubt the audience would cheer when they see how a minor baddie comes to a particularly spectacular end.
The cover of Blue Hand shown above and on the left comes (quite ironically) from UK publisher Digit Books’ 1963 paperback edition of Wallace’s tale. There is no apparent artist’s signature on the cover, and I don’t find any reference online to who might have created that painting of an apparently frightened blonde woman, a scrubs-sporting doctor, and a menacing azure palm spread above them both. It’s been suggested that this illustration came from the most able hands of Sam Peffer, a British commercial artist who took on a variety of cover-art-creation assignments for Digit during the early ’60s, and once explained that he didn’t sign all of his work for that house. But I don’t find confirmation that Peffer—or “Peff,” as he liked to be identified—gave us this Blue Hand art.

Having fully appreciated that 1963 cover, let us now turn our attention to today’s other featured front, with its ominous, Jerry Powell-painted illustration. This comes from the 1956 Dell edition of The Restless Hands, by Berlin-born American pulp writer Bruno Fischer (1908-1992). As this article explains, Fischer “was the author of 25 novels and more than 300 short stories, a contributor to Black Mask and Manhunt magazines, and the uncrowned king of the notorious ‘weird menace’ pulps.” The Restless Hands, released originally by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1949, was the third entry in a series starring cop-turned-private eye Ben Helm. As Kevin Burton Smith observes at The Thrilling Detective Web Site, Helm was “not your typical hard-boiled, Hammeresque eye of the time.” He smoked a pipe, was married to a “loving, striking actress” named Greta Murdock, and earned “much of his living as a criminologist, writing and lecturing in that field.”

Although I haven’t found available online a review of The Restless Hands, I did manage to dig up an image (on the left) of the back cover from the aforementioned Dell edition, which provides this description of the cast members in Fischer’s story:
Tony Bascomb was the town’s black sheep. He had run away from a murder, and now he was back, and the night after he got back there was another murder.

George Dentz was the town’s frustrated lover. The poetic type. Liked women, in his own nervous way. Capable of cold-blooded murder? Nobody knew.

Mark Kinnard was the town’s hard worker. A big fellow, friendly, a quiet, dutiful son. He’d never had much fun. Hardly the killer type.

Rebecca Sprague was the town’s beauty. These three men wanted to marry her, but two women had been strangled, and one of the three was the slayer. Nobody knew which, least of all Rebecca.

She had a choice: lose the man she loved, or take a 3-to-1 chance on marrying a brutal killer!
There’s no mention in that text of New York City gumshoe Helm. But then, as The Thrilling Detective’s Smith makes clear, Fischer’s protagonist is “rarely the central character in these multiple-viewpoint thrillers, although he does always seem to be the one to (mostly) tie things up.” Presumably, he sweeps in at some point to accomplish the same thing here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Finds: “Stiletto”

Another in our growing line of vintage book covers we love.

Stiletto, by Harold Robbins (Dell, 1960).
Illustration by Robert K. Abbett.

After novelist Harold Robbins perished in 1997, aged 81, The New York Times published an obituary recalling how he’d “once predicted that he would ultimately be known ‘as the best writer in the world.’” It went on to quote from a 1977 interview in which Robbins, explaining his success, again bragged: “I’m the best around. No one can compare with what I’ve done. [Ernest] Hemingway was a fantastic short-story writer, but as a novelist, he could never put it together.” The Times added, though, that Robbins “did say that he admired some writers, ... among them John Steinbeck, James T. Farrell, and John O’Hara. He said he also appreciated the work of his colleague in popular fiction, Irving Wallace.”

The Jewish, New York City-born Robbins is recorded as having sold more than 750 million copies of his books, counting 25 best-sellers among his half-century-long output. And no wonder: as the Times related, his storytelling followed an appealing formula.
Mr. Robbins’ novels were always gossipy, always offered a mystery of sorts and always seemed to be interminable, much to the delight of readers …

The works also frequently seemed to present a central figure who strongly resembled a famous person, like Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes, Porfirio Rubirosa, or Lana Turner, who, as it happens, once starred in a lavish prime-time soap opera based on one of his books.

In a Robbins novel, women were beautiful, wealthy and wanton; men were possessed of all the restraint of college freshmen, and the plots contained accounts of some randy doings, which one critic said he would not have tried to describe to anyone, not even those who had occupied his Army barracks.
Robbins’ star doesn’t sit so high in the sky as it once did, but for years after his demise, ghost-written novels were still being churned out under his brand name. And his original torrid tales, including 79 Park Avenue (1955), The Carpetbaggers (1961), and The Tycoon (1997), continue to find new audiences.

(Right) Stiletto’s back cover. Click to enlarge.

Stiletto—about a handsome international playboy, Count Cesare Cardinali, and (according to the back of the 1960 edition shown above) Cardinali’s latest lover, a top Manhattan fashion model “swept with a passion so strong it consumed her, so intense it frightened her”—isn’t as familiar as some of this author’s other works. Yet it unquestionably carries his stylistic imprint. As Goodreads explains, “The story of this steamy novel centers on an amoral young Italian aristocrat with a penchant for violence who owes his extravagant lifestyle to the favors of a mafia overlord. So when he is asked to silence four witnesses due to testify against the mob, the aristocrat is more than happy to comply in a most brutal manner. Only he did not figure on a special agent—one who helped build the mountain of evidence against the organization—entering into a lethal game of cat-and-mouse with him. And the special agent is the only one who realizes that it is not loyalty, or honor, or debt that drive the young man to murder—but the thrill of the kill!”

The novel proved popular enough that director Bernard L. Kowalski shot a big-screen film from it. Released in 1969, that version of Stiletto starred Alex Cord (who I remember best from the 1973 Gene Roddenberry TV pilot, Genesis II), along with the then-captivating Swedish actress Britt Eklund, and Patrick O’Neal. Assessing the results, the Times’ Howard Thompson opined: “The surprise of this Avco Embassy release, about a young mob killer-specialist who decides to break with his sponsors, is that it could be so dull and transparent even on the level of a surface gangland narrative. What begins as a hard-knuckled exercise about underworld terror, with the law hot on the scent, finally dissolves into a tame conventional chase yarn rivaling the corniest of shoot-’em-up Westerns.” Ouch! Not exactly the caliber of response “the best writer in the world” probably expected, but there you have it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Duped: “The Ivy Trap”

The latest installment in Killer Covers’ “haven’t we seen this front someplace before?” series. Previous entries are here.

Douglas Angus (1909-2002) was born in the Canadian town of Amherst, Nova Scotia. According to the back-jacket copy on his only suspense novel, 1963’s Death on Jerusalem Road, Angus was “the son of a Canadian fur trapper. He came to the United States in 1936, acquired a Ph.D. from Ohio State University, and has since taught in a number of American colleges in the East and Midwest. … He is currently on the faculty of St. Lawrence University” in northern New York state. That same mini-biography noted that Angus was the author of three novels prior to the publication of Death on the Jerusalem Road: The Green and the Burning (1958), The Lions Fed the Tigers (1958), and The Ivy Trap (1959).

In its plot précis of The Ivy Trap, Kirkus Reviews wrote:
Allan Hazard, 47, an associate professor in a large school, has until now a fine record to which a well-reviewed book has contributed, and a more than reasonably happy marriage with Margaret, as well as two children. His attraction to one of his students, Laurel, a lovely if highly neurotic girl, is not to be resisted and becomes increasingly intense. They are seen by the Dean’s wife and by some students; news travels quickly—to Margaret—who can forgive him the lapse but not the transfer of a ring—hers—to Laurel. And while he finally is given the full professorship coveted by the entire department, it is only a week before his resignation is demanded—and Laurel’s ruin is complete, as well as his own.
A rather short review in the January 3, 1960, edition of Nebraska’s Lincoln Evening Journal called The Ivy Trap “a case-study of how passion can sweep over a man, destroying all of his reasonableness.”

The cover featured atop this post comes from the 1961 Crest Giant paperback version of Angus’ book, featuring what I think is a rather beautiful piece of art by English-American illustrator Charles Binger (despite the fact that the young woman depicted is a brunette, while Laurel in the novel is a blonde). Apparently, my attraction to that painting was shared, for the same painting showed up—also in 1961—on the façade of a British paperback, Alien Virus (Panther). The book is credited to “Alan Caillou,” but that was a pseudonym used by Surrey-born fictionist Alan Lyle-Smythe (1914-2006). Lyle-Smythe—who also wrote as “Alex Webb”—proved to be prolific, turning out more than three dozen novels, including series starring a journalist named Mike Benasque, an Interpol-serving “athletic genius” by the name of Cabot Cain, and a gentleman scholar called Ian Quayle.

Alien Virus was one of Lyle-Smyth’s non-series books, an adventure/espionage tale originally published in 1957, but reissued in 1974 as Cairo Cabal. Since I do not have either edition on my shelves, I was forced onto the Web in search of more information, but could find only a single plot summation of Alien Virus, from the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It calls the yarn “a thriller set arguably … in an alternate-history Egypt,” involving Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Finds: “It Can’t Happen Here”

Another in our growing line of vintage book covers we love.

There was a good deal of talk about Sinclair Lewis’ semi-satirical, 1935 political novel, It Can’t Happen Here, in the run-up to this month’s American presidential election, due to the fact that Lewis’ story features a tactless, fearmongering, Donald Trump-like character. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg mentioned it as “a novel today more referred to than read, which imagined fascism coming to the U.S. The movement’s leader is Buzz Windrip, a populist demagogue who promises ‘to make America a proud, rich land again,’ punish nations that defy him, and raise wages very high while keeping prices very low.” He goes on to remark:
You can’t read Lewis’ novel today without flashes of Trumpian recognition. Windrip is a demagogic huckster, “an inspired guesser at what political doctrines the people would like,” who understands how to manipulate the media and considers the truth an irrelevancy. His constituency of economically dispossessed white men moos at his xenophobic nationalism and preposterous promises. After he wins the 1936 election, Windrip moves to assert control over the press, lock up his opponents, and put competent businessmen in charge of the country.
In Salon, Malcolm Harris called Lewis’ book “a wonderful example of prophylactic fiction,” observing that “Lewis used his position as one of the nation’s top novelists”—he had penned Main Street (1920), Babbitt (1922), and Elmer Gantry (1927), after all—“to show his countrymen exactly how authoritarianism could rear its head in the land of liberty. The assassination of Louisiana Governor Huey Long (better remembered in literary history for inspiring Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men) and the re-election of Franklin Roosevelt rendered Lewis’ warning moot for a time, but 80 years later the novel feels frighteningly contemporary.”

It’s been a long while since I read It Can’t Happen Here; but Wikipedia’s plot description reminds me of the tale’s most significant and frightening turns:
Though having previously foreshadowed some authoritarian measures in order to reorganize the United States government, Windrip rapidly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of Windrip and his “corporatist” regime. One of his first acts as president is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress, which draws the ire of many citizens as well as the legislators themselves. The Minute Men respond to protests against Windrip’s decisions harshly, attacking demonstrators with bayonets. In addition to these actions, Windrip’s administration, known as the “Corpo” government, curtails women’s and minority rights, and eliminates individual states by subdividing the country into administrative sectors. The government of these sectors is managed by “Corpo” authorities, usually prominent businessmen or Minute Men officers. Those accused of crimes against the government appear before kangaroo courts presided over by “military judges.” Despite these dictatorial (and “quasi-draconian”) measures, a majority of Americans approve of them, seeing them as necessary but painful steps to restore American power. Others, those less enthusiastic about the prospect of corporatism, reassure themselves that fascism cannot “happen here,” hence the novel’s title.

Open opponents of Windrip, led by Senator [Walt] Trowbridge, form an organization called the New Underground, helping dissidents escape to Canada in manners reminiscent of the Underground Railroad and distributing anti-Windrip propaganda. One recruit to the New Underground is Doremus Jessup, the novel’s protagonist, a traditional liberal and an opponent of both Corpoism and communist theories, which Windrip’s administration suppresses. Jessup’s participation in the organization results in the publication of a periodical called The Vermont Vigilance, in which he writes editorials decrying Windrip’s abuses of power. Shad Ledue, the local district commissioner and Jessup’s former hired man, resents his old employer and eventually discovers his actions and has
Sinclair Lewis
Jessup sent to a concentration camp. Ledue subsequently terrorizes Jessup’s family and particularly his daughter Sissy, whom he unsuccessfully attempts to seduce.
I won’t give away the whole story, but I will mention that Windrup’s authoritarian chokehold on power is eventually undermined by reports that the economic prosperity he’d promised to bring the United States fails to materialize. As more and more people become disillusioned with the Windrup administration, rivalries break out among his lieutenants, a gratuitous war on Mexico destroys what remained of the public’s faith in the “Corpo” dictatorship, and civil war breaks out as voters realize they have been conned into believing lies told by charismatic but self-serving politicians.

I don’t own the 1961 Dell paperback edition of Lewis’ yarn shown atop this post, but it features a cover painting by the now 89-year-old, Illinois-born artist Howard Terpning, another of whose book fronts I applauded in an earlier “Friday Finds” post.

Sixty-nine years after Sinclair Lewis’ novel first saw print, the what-if scenario of fascistic forces overrunning the U.S. government cropped up once again in Philip Roth’s better-written The Plot Against America (2004), which imagined celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh, running as a Republican, defeating Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and bringing his fringe agenda to the White House. “Lindbergh, in real life as in the novel, famously admired Hitler and even accepted a medal from Hitler’s government,” observed Paul Berman in his New York Times review of this book. “He looked on the American Jews as a pretty suspicious group, all in all. Even so, millions of other Americans admired him.”

Before the release of Roth’s book, though, in 1968, ABC-TV broadcast a “movie of the week”/series pilot titled Shadow on the Land, which was inspired by It Can’t Happen Here and found “freedom fighters” battling fascism across the United States. That teleflick was written by Sidney Sheldon and Nedrick Young, and starred John Forsythe, Jackie Cooper, Carol Lynley, and Gene Hackman. Although it’s not easy to find anymore, if you act quickly, you can watch it on YouTube. There’s no telling how long it might remain available.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two-fer Tuesdays: Swing, Swing Together

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

These “Two-fer Tuesdays” installments have been rather sparse lately, as I’ve focused what free time I have on celebrating John D. MacDonald’s centennial as well as what would have been the 110th birthday of paperback cover artist Paul Rader. For The Rap Sheet and Kirkus Reviews, I must still deal with Best Books of 2016 coverage and other year-end postings. But as things finally wind down for 2016, I hope to resume my regular Killer Covers posting schedule.

So let us begin by comparing the two softcover façades embedded above. The one on the left comes from the original, 1967 Gold Medal release of Tanner’s Twelve Swingers. That was Lawrence Block’s third (of eight) novels featuring Evan Michael Tanner, a seriously sleep-deprived Korean War veteran turned secret agent. A short MyShelf.com review of this “fast-paced” story with “many Cold War references” offers the following plot brief:
As a favor to his good friend, Karlis Mislovicius, Tanner agrees to go to Russia to smuggle a Latvian gymnast, Sofija Lazdinja, out of the country. He travels from New York City, across Europe, to Russia on his mission. His problem is augmented when Sofija refuses to leave without her eleven teammates. Along the way his entourage is increased by a Slav author and the young heir to the nonexistent Lithuanian throne. It takes all of Tanner’s ingenuity and resources to rescue them all.
The dynamic illustration introducing this edition of Tanner’s Twelve Swingers was created by versatile, and now 90-year-old artist Robert McGinnis. It’s one of three stylistically similar fronts McGinnis painted for Block’s Tanner series, the others found on Two for Tanner and Tanner’s Tiger, both of which were published in 1968.

On the cover featured above and to the right, you see the term “swingers” being used in a very different manner. Dee Winters’ The Swingers (Beacon, 1965) was a soft-porn yarn about “rollicking” sex-partner exchanges among married couples. As the back-jacket copy on this other version of the same novel reads:
Welcome to the swinging, swapping suburban set--where couples are rated and partners switched with pushbutton ease.

Rick and Nina found the neighborhood “mating game” gave an exciting new fillip to their own waning marriage. They found new thrills in toting up their score cards, threw themselves with headlong abandon into a vortex of sensation-seeking as they competed with each other for “high-score.”

Nina made the rounds of husbands and Rick completed the circuit of wives. But at last one fatal step too far down the perverse path brought them face to face with a shocking realization about themselves—and about their friend, attractive Gerry Dennison. Gerry’s forbidden longings, it was clear, rendered her completely vulnerable to the warped ways of--The Swingers.
Responsibility for the cover art here belongs to Ernest Chiriacka (aka “Darcy”), one of my favorite paperback illustrators of the mid-20th century. I haven’t succeeded in learning much online about The Swingers’ author, but I do know that Dee Winters also gave readers such tales as 1962’s Motel Marriage (another wife-swapping adventure) and 1966’s You May Hate Lonnie Browning (“about nurses and the temptations in their intimate lives”).

By the way, while I was digging around on the Web, I happened across another vintage paperback that picks up on this week’s title theme. Sex-Swinger (shown on the left) was published by Beacon Books in 1963. Its author is listed as “Andrew Blake,” but according to AbeBooks, that was just a pen name employed by Lary [sic] Mark Harris, who wrote additional books under such pseudonyms as Laurence M. Janifer, Barbara Wilson, Mark Phillips, and Alfred Blake. In addition to Sex-Swinger, Harris produced The Bed and I (1962), The Ecstasy Kick (1967), Love Hostess (1963), and 1969’s Topless (“a case history report … revealing portraits of the everything-goes woman in today’s anything-goes world”). The wonderful blog Pulp Covers: The Best of the Worst attributes the artwork for Sex-Swinger to Charles Schridde (1926-2011), who grew up in the American Midwest and was once a top illustrator in Detroit, Michigan, contributing his talents to automobile catalogues, and painting futuristic residential scenes for use in Motorola TV advertisements. (See examples of those here and here.) Schridde was also known during his later years for his Western imagery. Since his death, Schridde’s Web site has been taken down, but you can still access it via the Wayback Machine.

Sights on the Sites

• A couple of years back, Killer Covers showcased a trio of paperback fronts emphasizing stairway dangers. More recently, Pulp International put together a much larger gallery with the same theme. From its choices, I’m particularly fond of E.T. French’s Never Smile at Children (1959), with cover art by Lou Marchetti.

• Speaking of Pulp International, dig this façade from Robert O. Saber’s Murder Honeymoon (1953), “a digest-style paperback from the Australian imprint Phantom Books.” The art,” we’re told, “originally fronted Saber’s 1952 Original Novels thriller City of Sin, … and was painted by the always amazing George Gross.”

• Boy, they sure don’t make magazine covers like this anymore.

Another fine specimen of that breed.

• I hadn’t previously noticed this novel-cover theme of women silhouetted in windows. But of course, now I’ll be watching for more examples every time I enter a bookshop.

Advice for do-it-yourself book-front designers.

• Ed McBain wrote so many novels, that assembling a complete collection of their fronts would be quite daunting. However, Bear Alley’s Steve Holland has made a running start at the task.

• And here’s something I wish was done more often: For the blog Criminal Intent, author Charles Finch interviews David Rotstein, the art director with Minotaur Books who created the jacket for Finch’s new Charles Lenox historical mystery, The Inheritance.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

When Rage Rules

Not surprisingly—given the frightening results of this week’s U.S. presidential election, marking the rise of this man—I was reminded of the book cover featured above. It comes from the 1950 Bantam edition of Theodore Strauss’ The Haters, a novel published originally in 1937 as Night at Hogwallow. According to a brief plot description on the AbeBooks site, this is “a searing story of dark, boiling hate and a town that cared more for blood than justice—the gut-gripping story of a man who dared to help an accused black man in the South. The charge was rape. The girl was white.” Night at Hogwallow was one of at least two novels Strauss penned; the other was Moonrise (1946), which was adapted as a film three years later.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Rader Love: Halloween Treats

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Drink with the Dead, by J.M. Flynn (Ace, 1959). This standalone novel by newspaperman-turned-novelist Jay, or J.M., Flynn—perhaps best remembered for writing The Five Faces of Murder (1962) and four previous tales about “an off-the-wall San Francisco bar owner and secret agent named McHugh”—was packaged in a two-for-one paperback with Mistress of Horror House, by “William Woody,” aka Woodbury William Fagette (1903-1974). Rader did not also paint the front of Woody’s yarn, but I cannot quite make out the actual illustrator’s signature at the bottom of that other cover. Any ideas?

So concludes Killer Covers’ month-long tribute to paperback cover artist Paul Rader. Over the course of this series, we’ve offered an overview of Rader’s career and influences; talked with his daughter, Elaine Rader, about his painting history as well as her mother’s role as the sexy “Rader Girl”; and relished daily displays of more than 40 of Rader’s most memorable images. That Brooklyn-born artist who once thought he’d make his name and nut as a portraitist, ultimately earned renown instead as a prolific, mid-20th-century creator of captivating fronts for crime, romance, and soft-porn fiction. Assembling a gallery of the lesbian-themed novels to which Rader contributed his illustrations would, alone, be a rather considerable task.

Although Paul Rader’s reputation waned after his death in 1986, it has grown again more recently, as vintage-book collectors have rediscovered his dexterity at capturing the supple wonders of the female form in colored inks. Southern California books historian Lynn Monroe, who has devoted years of study to this artist’s work, explains that Rader’s principal talent was “taking the art of the pin-up, formerly used mainly on calendars and [in] advertising, and adapting that look for mass-market paperback book covers.” Rader, he adds, “was the 1960s heir apparent to the classic pin-up legacy of Charles Dana Gibson, George Petty, and Alberto Vargas.” At the height of his career, Rader’s not-so-good-girl-art became as familiar to paperback readers as that of Robert McGinnis, Mitchell Hooks, Harry Bennett, Ernest Chiriacka (aka Darcy), and other painters whose work was in high demand by publishers.

There are so many captivating Rader book façades to choose from, that when I set about paring down a list of my remaining favorites to install in this last tribute post, I still wound up with 110! Since I’d like to save some for future use, I have further narrowed my selections down to another 40, which I offer below for your delight.

Click on any of these images for an enlargement.