Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Finds: “The Gallows in My Garden”

Another in our growing line of vintage book covers we love.

The Gallows in My Garden (Dell, 1953), by Richard Deming.
Illustration by Bob Hilbert.

Kevin Burton Smith of The Thrilling Detective Web Site refers to Manville Moon as “one of the great unknown series [private] eyes that somehow slipped through the cracks.” This shamus is known to be “tough, honest, and handy with the wisecracks,” but he was also seriously wounded in combat during World War II. “He’s got a grim contraption of cork, steel, aluminum and leather, where his right leg used to be …,” notes Smith, “and a face a woman once referred to as [looking like that of] ‘a battered Saint Bernard.’” Although Manny Moon appeared in many short stories, during the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, in such publications as Black Mask, Manhunt, and Dime Detective, there are only four Moon novels; The Gallows in My Garden was the first, originally published by Rinehart & Company in 1952. (Tweak the Devil’s Nose, Whistle Past the Graveyard, and Juvenile Delinquent all followed it into print within the next half-dozen years, though that last yarn was published only in Great Britain.)

Reviewing Gallows (way too briefly), Kirkus Reviews wrote:
Manville Moon, Confidential Investigator with a false leg, is hired by inheritance-loaded Grace Lawson, promptly attacked and immediately on hand for the death of her brother. Another killing, attempts on Grace’s life, [and] light on the previous death of her father, all add up to a devious bit of long-term plotting by a criminal who is saved by lack of evidence. Nimble--and breezy.”
A GoodReads contributor had this to add:
There is comedy and humor [in Gallows] that reminds me of Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, and Moon is always the wise guy. But there is gripping action and suspense. The novel is plot-driven, and the ending was a surprise to me, but the characters are also interesting. Recommended, particularly for readers looking for something different.
Surprisingly, I haven’t written about American artist Bob Hilbert until now. Not that I know much of his personal or career history. (If you do, please share!) I am aware, though, that during the mid-20th century he was very busy in commercial illustration and created some very memorable images for The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, The American Weekly, and other periodicals. You can see some of Hilbert’s magazine work here and here. A handful of his paperback covers can be appreciated here.

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