Friday, August 27, 2010

"She Made a Beautiful Corpse"

By Russel D McLean

Those of you who know me know that I have a weakness for old painted pulp covers. Several bookshelves are dedicated to my favourites, but this week I decided to bring out some examples of these works of art to show you. Many of these were originally used as covers back when Crime Scene Scotland was a monthly ezine. Rooting through old files brought back memories of where I found these books, and some of the questions and thoughts they brought up. So enjoy a small peek at my covers. I'll maybe scan some more another week. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and a reminder of how cover art used to be a truly individual thing.

The Corpse in the Corner Saloon was bought in the book room at my first Bouchercon (Chicago).

One of the things I love about it, more than the gorgeous painted cover, is the fact that it also came with a map of the crime scene. Its my understanding that a lot of Dell books did this at one time, and it is a fantastic idea.

The second cover here, A Date With Death, was again bought on a trip to the states. This time, I was in New York back when I was considering attending NYU as a philosophy graduate. In the end, of course, I elected for Bristol which had a better course and then dropped out of philosophy altogether due to the costs involved. Anyway, this one has a very special place in my heart and I love the strapline: "She made a beautiful corpse".

I love my Ross McDonald books. So when my dad found this Spanish edition of one of McDonald's books (I'm actually not sure which one this is - anyone care to enlighten me?) I was delighted. Its a very simple but effective cover, and while not down to my usual pulp styles has pride of place in my bookcase.

The Books of Master Crimes was bought back in the days when I tried my hand at bookselling. Its one of my intial stock that I have left. And all because I love the cover. This one's a magazine anthology, and again its that painted cover that gets me every time.

Dark Crusade is another oddity in my collection. Its got he babe, the guy in the tenchcoat and of course the communist espionage. But can anyone solve this mystery from the back cover for me? Apparently Grant Holmes "is the psuedonym of a well-known American detective story writer who has written this hard-driving thriller on the strength of his own experiences at the head of an allied bueaur of intelligence and counter-intelligence in England and on the continent during the last war." Can anyone source me the real identity of this writer? You'll get the DSD equivalent of a no-prize, and you know those have gotta be coveted.


Jerry House said...

Grant Holmes was a pseudonym for James M. Fox, which in turn was a pseudonym for Johannes Knipscheer. He was born in the Netherlands in 1908 and was a naturalized American citizen. He puiblished 24 mystery novels between 1943 and 1988, the year before his death. His main detectives were Johnny & Suzy Marshall. Dark Crusade was his 16th novel. A collection of letters between Fox and Raymond chandler has been published.

Mike Dennis said...

Russel, regarding the Ross McDonald cover, I don't believe that title is in Spanish. The word "experiencia" does not have an accent mark on it, and in fact, no Spanish word has that kind of "backslash" accent. The marks always run in the "forward slash" direction.

Also, there's no such word in Spanish as "amb".

I can't imagine a Spanish publisher making those kinds of errors.

Of course, if the publisher's page says it came from Spain or somewhere in Latin America, then I'm all wet.

Roger Thornhill said...

Russel, the Ross Mcdonald book is in Catalan. It was purchased in a back street bookstore in Barcelona. It cost 2 Euros. The purchaser then met a woman in the Placa Reial where they had tapas & wine. The bill came to 43 euros.

Russel said...

Mike and "Mr Thornhill" (or is it Mr Kaplan?): Yes, not Spanish. Catalan. (which is to Spanish what Gaelic is to English, as I understand things). Hence why it looks funny. I shall see if I can find someone to verify this.

Jerry - fantastic! Thanks for that. I don't know much about Fox but the collection of letters between him and Chandler sounds fascinating.

Mike Dennis said...

Thanks to Russel and Mr Thornhill for straightening me out on that one.