Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Duped: “The Ivy Trap”

The latest installment in Killer Covers’ “haven’t we seen this front someplace before?” series. Previous entries are here.



Douglas Angus (1909-2002) was born in the Canadian town of Amherst, Nova Scotia. According to the back-jacket copy on his only suspense novel, 1963’s Death on Jerusalem Road, Angus was “the son of a Canadian fur trapper. He came to the United States in 1936, acquired a Ph.D. from Ohio State University, and has since taught in a number of American colleges in the East and Midwest. … He is currently on the faculty of St. Lawrence University” in northern New York state. That same mini-biography noted that Angus was the author of three novels prior to the publication of Death on the Jerusalem Road: The Green and the Burning (1958), The Lions Fed the Tigers (1958), and The Ivy Trap (1959).

In its plot précis of The Ivy Trap, Kirkus Reviews wrote:
Allan Hazard, 47, an associate professor in a large school, has until now a fine record to which a well-reviewed book has contributed, and a more than reasonably happy marriage with Margaret, as well as two children. His attraction to one of his students, Laurel, a lovely if highly neurotic girl, is not to be resisted and becomes increasingly intense. They are seen by the Dean’s wife and by some students; news travels quickly—to Margaret—who can forgive him the lapse but not the transfer of a ring—hers—to Laurel. And while he finally is given the full professorship coveted by the entire department, it is only a week before his resignation is demanded—and Laurel’s ruin is complete, as well as his own.
A rather short review in the January 3, 1960, edition of Nebraska’s Lincoln Evening Journal called The Ivy Trap “a case-study of how passion can sweep over a man, destroying all of his reasonableness.”

The cover featured atop this post comes from the 1961 Crest Giant paperback version of Angus’ book, featuring what I think is a rather beautiful piece of art by English-American illustrator Charles Binger (despite the fact that the young woman depicted is a brunette, while Laurel in the novel is a blonde). Apparently, my attraction to that painting was shared, for the same painting showed up—also in 1961—on the façade of a British paperback, Alien Virus (Panther). The book is credited to “Alan Caillou,” but that was a pseudonym used by Surrey-born fictionist Alan Lyle-Smythe (1914-2006). Lyle-Smythe—who also wrote as “Alex Webb”—proved to be prolific, turning out more than three dozen novels, including series starring a journalist named Mike Benasque, an Interpol-serving “athletic genius” by the name of Cabot Cain, and a gentleman scholar called Ian Quayle.

Alien Virus was one of Lyle-Smyth’s non-series books, an adventure/espionage tale originally published in 1957, but reissued in 1974 as Cairo Cabal. Since I do not have either edition on my shelves, I was forced onto the Web in search of more information, but could find only a single plot summation of Alien Virus, from the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It calls the yarn “a thriller set arguably … in an alternate-history Egypt,” involving Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

1 comment:

Art Taylor said...

Great cover--great backstory!