Sometimes, no matter how hard I try (and I’m a pretty diligent Web sleuth), I simply cannot figure out who to credit for creating a particular vintage book jacket. Sadly, that’s the case with both of this week’s picks. On the left we have the front from the 1958 paperback edition of The Young Who Sin, the debut novel by John Haase (1923-2006), a German-born dentist, travel writer, and fictionist whose parents--wary of the Nazi buildup prior to the outbreak of World War II hostilities--had fled with him to California. Haase would go on, in 1966, to publish Me and the Arch Kook Petulia, a “charming novel” that was adapted in 1968 into the motion-picture Petulia, starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott. The Young Who Sin never enjoyed such Hollywood attenion. It told the story of Al Barnaby, who, in the early 1950s, ran away from his family’s comfortable digs in San Francisco and landed in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. There he encountered “floozies, punks, addicts, and weekend Romeos,” and--according to a write-up on the AbeBooks site--became most familiar with four people in particular:
FIFI, who danced for two-bit jokers along Strip-tease Row; MARIA, a young beginner in what’s called the world’s oldest profession; CONSUELA, who had forgotten there was such a thing as love above a price; HERMAN, who lived high and cruelly, off the low.Above and on the right, meanwhile, you’ll see the cover from the 1957 Avon paperback original, Death on the Double, one of several short-story collections by Henry Kane (1908-1988??). Kane’s reputation derived principally from his creation of Peter Chambers, a Manhattan private eye who may have inspired the TV series character Peter Gunn. Chambers had his own success, leaping from the pages of novels into a short-lived NBC radio series, Crime and Peter Chambers, that starred Dane Clark and debuted in 1954 (and can be heard here). Death on the Double features at least three of Chambers’ investigations.
But Al was looking for more than a cheap thrill, and from these lost souls he learned that compassion and human understanding can redeem even the most abandoned of God’s sinners.
Finally, if anyone out there knows who illustrated this pair of covers, please don’t hesitate to drop that information into the Comments section below. We can all stand to learn something.