On January 19, 2009--six years ago today--I acted rather impulsively and created a book-design blog, the one you’re reading now, Killer Covers. For some time before that, I had produced occasional posts about crime-novel fronts in The Rap Sheet. But such covers interested me enough to try building a blog focused specifically around them. Little did I know what I was getting into. Yes, there’s much to be said on the topic of book design, especially if one focuses, as I do, on vintage paperbacks. Too much, in fact. It’s sometimes been challenging to divide my efforts between Killer Covers and The Rap Sheet.
Nonetheless, the last half-dozen years have presented me with numerous welcome opportunities to collect obscure paperbacks from the past and share with you, my faithful readers, what knowledge I’ve gleaned regarding their cover artists. As a way of celebrating this latest anniversary, I shall spend the next six days showcasing novel fronts I discovered within the last twelvemonth. One cover per day through Saturday. The artists won’t all be new to regular readers of this blog, but I hope the works themselves will bring fresh delights to everybody.
First up: The Way Some People Die, by John Ross Macdonald (Pocket, 1961). Illustration by Charles Binger. California-born author Kenneth Millar (1915-1983) employed his real name when he started penning crime novels in the early 1940s, but subsequently adopted the pseudonym John Macdonald, which he hoped would prevent his works from being mistaken for those by his then better-known wife, Margaret Millar. Of course, this change only created confusion with his fellow wordsmith, John D. MacDonald,
author of the Travis McGee adventures. Millar eventually altered his nom de plume to John Ross Macdonald, and later to Ross Macdonald. The Way Some People Die was his third novel starring Los Angeles private eye Lew Archer.
READ MORE: “Ross Macdonald: The Way Some People Die,” by Peter (Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse).