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.