A twice-monthly pairing of book covers that just seem to go together. Click on either of these images to open up an enlargement.
One doesn’t usually think of bed as a place where murder awaits, but these two paperback covers tell quite a different story.
The image on the left, from Dead in Bed (1959)--the first of two novels written by Day Keene (aka Gunnar Hjerstedt) and featuring his half-Irish, half-Hawaiian Los Angeles private eye, Johnny Aloha--displays
on its front a splendid painting by the once-prominent Harry Schaare. This Pyramid edition of Dead in Bed is one I’ve been hoping to add to my collection for some while, but I have yet to locate an affordable copy. I found a clean, high-quality one in the booksellers room at the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis, Missouri, but it was priced at $40, which seemed awfully steep for a book that could originally be had for 35 cents. Even copies from AbeBooks run $29 and up. Someday, though, I’ll snag a more reasonably priced copy of Dead in Bed and never let it go.
As to the cover on the right, it appeared on the 1952 Eton Books edition of Sin in Their Blood, penned by Ed Lacy (a pseudonym used by Leonard S. Zinberg). This is evidently the only novel starring Matt Ranzino, an ex-cop, former boxer, and currently unlicensed gumshoe. Author James Reasoner once explained in his blog that Sin in Their Blood finds Ranzino returning “to his home town (an unnamed city on the West Coast) after serving in the army during the Korean War. He discovers that his former partner, who was sort of a shady character to start with, has turned downright crooked and is involved in an elaborate blackmail scheme. The ex-partner has also taken up with Matt’s ex-girlfriend. Matt is unsure whether or not he wants to be a P.I. again, but before you know it, he’s mixed up in a complicated murder-suicide case. But then Lacy takes what could have been a generic Fifties private-eye novel and turns most of the conventions of such tales upside-down. Matt Ranzino turns out not to be the usual tough guy P.I. after all.”
Lacy was also the creator of African-American sleuth Toussaint Marcus Moore,
who made his debut in the 1957 novel Room to Swing.
I haven’t found any information on who painted the Eton cover for Sin in Their Blood. If any readers out there can fill in that significant detail, I’d be most appreciative.
READ MORE: “Dead in Bed (Day Keene, 1959),” by Jure P. (Alpha-60 Books); “Panic in the Sheets,” by J. Kingston Pierce (Killer Covers).