A twice-monthly pairing of book covers that just seem to go together. Click on either of these images to open up an enlargement.
There were times during 2013 when I felt as if this was the way the year had decided to treat me. One whack to the head after the next! The best-laid plans blowing up in my face, unexpected (and expensive) alterations/repairs to my house, electronic equipment in urgent need of fixing--2013 packed all of that in, plus more. So I can’t say I’m particularly sorry to see the curtain slam down on this last 12-month period. 2014 has to be better, right?
The covers above were both painted by Paul Kresse, an artist whose work I’m familiar with, but about whom I know next to nothing. (If anyone out there can supply information about his life and career, please do.) The image on the left comes from the 1950, first Pocket Books printing of It’s a Crime, by Richard Ellington (1914-1980). During the late 1940s and early ’50s, he penned five mystery novels featuring Manhattan-based actor-turned-private eye Steve Drake. It’s a Crime was the second installment in that series, following Shoot the Works (1948). In his write-up about Steve Drake for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, Kevin Burton Smith said Ellington’s series was “not as hard-boiled as [Mickey] Spillane, perhaps, but generally offering some good local color, an appealing medium-boiled hero and some deftly plotted, satisfyingly complex mysteries.”
More familiar to fans of mid-20th-century paperback detective fiction is the cover on the right, from the June 1943 edition of Raymond Chandler’s second Philip Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely.
Pocket reprinted Farewell eight times between 1943 and 1951, but this Kress-created front was easily the most eye-catching of the lot.
Here’s wishing all Killer Covers readers a fine and gentler 2014!