Thursday, April 9, 2020

Hooks Hits: May It Please the Court …

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Following yesterday’s post about Mitchell Hooks’ paintings for Erle Stanley Gardner novels, here are two more legal thrillers for which he created fronts: Trial of Honor, by William Pearson (Signet, 1969); and A Case for Appeal, by “Lesley Egan,” aka Elizabeth Linington (Harper, published in the 1960s, but I can’t pin down an exact year).

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Hooks Hits: Arresting Gardners

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.

The Case of the Sunbather’s Diary (Cardinal, 1958)


Like so many other artists of the mid-20th century—among them Robert McGinnnis, Mike Ludlow, Darrel Greene, Harry Bennett, Ron Lesser, Stanley Borack, and Robert Stanley—Mitchell Hooks painted fronts for Erle Stanley Gardner’s abundant novels.

Most of the eight covers in this post come from yarns starring Los Angeles defense attorney Perry Mason. Two, though—The Count of 9 and Traps Need Fresh Bait—are part of Gardner’s smaller series featuring L.A. gumshoes Bertha Cool and Donald Lam.


The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife (Cardinal, 1958); The Case of the Crooked Candle (Cardinal, 1959)


The Count of 9 (Pocket, 1969); Traps Need Fresh Bait
(Pocket Canada, 1968)


The Case of the Empty Tin (Cardinal, 1958); The Case of the Nervous Accomplice (Cardinal, 1958)


The Case of the Careless Kitten (Cardinal, 1958)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Paula”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Paula, by Don Kingery (Dell, 1959). The Vintage Paperback & Book Covers Facebook page explains that “Don Kingery only managed to published four novels [including 1960’s Good Time Girl]. But they are a marketing lesson in the advantages of marrying James M. Cain-style murderous triangles with Erskine Caldwell-style swamp-based abasements.” That same page calls Paula “a Postman Always Rings Twice homage as an oil worker, working for an impotent troll of a boss, goes after his hot, young wife.”

Monday, April 6, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Isolation Booth”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Isolation Booth, by Bob Kaufman and Lou Morheim (Gold Medal, 1961). Although you might presume, given its title, that this book is all about social distancing techniques during our present COVID-19 crisis, the back cover of Kaufman and Morheim’s novel (shown here) explains that it instead offers the “inside story” of the American quiz show scandals of the 1950s.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hooks Hits: “The Plotters”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



The Plotters, by “Alan Caillou,” né Alan Lyle-Smythe (Signet, 1962). Originally released in 1960 by Harper & Brothers, The Plotters was apparently the opening entry in a series that starred enterprising but often unemployed journalist Mike Benasque. The second Benasque yarn was Marseilles.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Dr. No”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



It’s been established that Mitchell Hooks was a prolific painter of paperback covers. However, he’s also well known for having created promotional poster artwork for the first James Bond movie, Dr. No (1962). Explains the blog MI6: “As well as creating … stylized illustrations of Sean Connery as James Bond for the UK quad poster, which would be used again for the later U.S. theatrical campaign, he also drew the line-art illustrations that feature behind the colourful character poses. A lot of his work would be repurposed for the international posters.”



FOLLOW-UP I: Writing on his Today’s Inspiration Facebook page, artist Leif Peng recalls “a fun anecdote about Mitchell doing this poster for the first-ever James Bond film. He’d been painting posters for a movie promotions agency in New York for some time when this project came up. And when he was called in to pick up stills to use as reference, his contact at the agency said, ‘Don't worry about putting too much effort into getting a good likeness on this one, Mike. It’s just some obscure British spy flick. Probably won’t be a hit anyway.’”

FOLLOW-UP II: It should be mentioned, as well, that Hooks painted posters for more movies than just Dr. No. Click here to enjoy additional examples of his work.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Hooks Hits: “The Lani People”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



The Lani People, by J.F. Bone (Bantam, 1962).

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hooks Hits: “The Boy Came Back”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



The Boy Came Back, by Charles Knickerbocker (Popular Library, 1959). This novel, which “featured small-town scandals slightly reminiscent of the later Peyton Place,” plus “graphic sexual descriptions and profanity,” became a major source of controversy in Illinois during the last months of 1953.

You can see the reverse side of the cover featured above by clicking here. A previous, 1952 Popular Library edition (its cover artist unidentified) can be enjoyed at this link.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Hooks Hits: Alexander’s Greats

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.

Between 1954 and 1959, New York City author and newspaper horse-racing editor David Alexander published eight mystery novels starring Bart Hardin, described by The Thrilling Detective Web Site as “the rambling, gambling two-fisted editor of The Broadway Times.” Mitchell Hooks painted covers for the Bantam paperback editions of at least two of those works, featured below: Die Little Goose (1957) and The Murder of Whistler’s Brother (1957). He also created the front for an Alexander one-off, Murder Points a Finger (1955).





The End Is Yet to Come

Two weeks ago, when I launched Killer Covers’ tribute to the work of American painter and illustrator Mitchell Hooks, I wrote that the series would run only through the end of March. Well, April Fools! I got you! These posts have been so popular, I’ve decided to continue rolling them out for a bonus fortnight. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hooks Hits: “The Deadly Chase”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



The Deadly Chase, by “Carter Cullen,” aka Richard and Mildred Macaulay (Gold Medal, 1957). I don’t know much about this novel, but Mystery*File says it figures into a “subgenre of mysteries dealing with insane asylums.” Film screenwriter Richard Macaulay and his wife published at least one other work of crime fiction under their Cullen pseudonym: Don’t Get Caught (1951).

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hooks Hits: “A Burnt-Out Case”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



A Burnt-Out Case, by Graham Greene (Bantam, 1962).

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Donovan’s Brain”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Donovan’s Brain, by Curt Siodmak (Popular Library, 1961). This work of science-fiction first saw print in a 1943 hardcover edition from Alfred A. Knopf. It went on to be adapted into three different movies: The Lady and the Monster (1944), Donovan’s Brain (1953), and The Brain (1962). German-American novelist Siodmak penned more than a dozen books, but he was quite a bit more prolific as a screenwriter, producing the scripts for such Hollywood horror classics as The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and The Beast with Five Fingers.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hooks Hits: Ambler Times Three

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.

During the course of an interview he conducted with Mitchell Hooks in 1988, Gary Lovisi of Gryphon Books asked the artist whether he had a personal favorite among the myriad covers he’d painted.

Hooks responded: “I think rather than a single cover, there are two series: one you’ve mentioned, the Lew Archer series, because the format was so strong and they made such a nice group. But there was another series I did for Bantam of Eric Ambler books, and there were five or six of those. I think they were a little more sophisticated in concept and design. I think they would be my favorites.”

Five or six? In a search across the Web, I have so far succeeded in tracking down only three Ambler covers painted by Hooks, for paperbacks released in 1964. Enjoy them below.






Friday, March 27, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Aimée”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Aimée, by M.L. Law (Popular Library, 1959). Reportedly based on the life and legend of 18th-century French heiress Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, this novel was originally published in a hardcover edition in 1956, under the author’s full name, Margaret Lathrop Law. To read the back cover, simply click here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hooks Hits: “Local Talent”

Part of a series saluting artist-illustrator Mitchell Hooks.



Local Talent, by William Fuller (Dell, 1960). This novel—the second of six to feature Fuller’s adventurer-cum-detective, Brad Dolan—was originally released in 1954 as Goat Island.

Hooks had previously created the cover art for another Fuller tale, a standalone titled The Pace That Kills (1956):



READ MORE:Brad Dolan #5: Miami Manhunt” (Paperback Warrior).