I think we should consider a separation. And I have just the body part in mind.
A gringo detective with an agency in Mexico City is hired to locate his crooked ex-partner, who has bailed with the agency's money, and now is causing trouble for the client. The PI takes the job, glad to be paid to track down his betrayer, and starts in the Mexican town of Rio Bravo where the partner immediately turns up dead. From there the hero delves into local corruption, crosses the border to Texas, uncovers a human trafficking ring, meets a cantina dancer named Arden Kennett, deals with a dangerous wife, watches murders pile up and the police begin to suspect him, and learns that knives can be thrown just as effectively as they can be brandished.
The book was published in the U.S. as an Ace Double in 1959 with Paul Rader art and bound with Charles Fritch's Negative of a Nude, but the rare edition above is from Aussie imprint Phantom Books and appeared in 1960. We can't identify the artist, which is an affliction we've been dealing with quite a bit of late. But don't blame us—as we've mentioned once or twice before, including just a few days ago, Phantom didn't credit art, possibly because much of it was copied from U.S. editions. Many of the covers do, however, look like the same hand, so hopefully someone will be able to ID the owner of that hand at some point in the future.
You might as well stop lurkin' and join the party. We already cousins—no harm bein' kissin' cousins too.
Actually, this book has nothing to do with cousins, but the art spoke to us that way. Guess we've read too many Midwood sleaze novels. Ace Books is generally a bit more highbrow. The main character in 1957's Desire in the Ozarks is Shoog Dawkins, a happy-go-lucky hillbilly stereotype who, after some years of matrimony to his sweetheart Docey and the birth of a son, has his head turned by a girl named Genevy Trone. He's constitutionally unable to resist the basic pleasures of life, so trouble soon results. This was marketed as an authentic slice of rural life in the vein of Erskine Caldwell—unsuccessfully it seems, because though Steger authored numerous short stories, this seems to have been his/her only novel. Turning to the art, it's uncredited. We did a little digging and found that the original painting for this recently went up for auction and the sellers confirmed that it's unsigned. We figure if they can't identify the artist, nobody can, so this one will likely remain unattributed.
Sorry about your face. My aim isn't so good with this thing.
Give a girl a whip and you'll find out who's the boss. Luisita is about a Mexican girl living in nowheresville whose beauty brings her both opportunities and problems. After a run of bad luck in her home town she moves to Los Angeles and eventually lands a job in a massage parlor. There she learns how depraved men really are, but also how easy they are to manipulate, and of course she uses to this new knowledge to try and get herself a piece of the pie. Basically, it's one of those books that's supposed to expose a shocking subculture, but it has the added bonus of pretending to offer insights about an entire ethnic group. However, the racism subplots are probably accurate. Loomis later went on to write House of Deceit and The Marina Street Girls. The excellent art on this is by Robert Maguire and the copyright is 1954.
Baby, come out here and see this. The moonlight shining on the sewage canal is so romantic.
Kathleen Sully's Canal in Moonlight was titled Bikka Road in the U.S., and concerns a happy family of eighteen. Well, they're happy when the book starts. And they're soon to be nineteen, as the wife is pregnant yet again. But she dies in childbirth, a daughter whose beauty is garnering the attention of men disappears, a couple of major purchases go wrong, a revenge scheme is enacted against the man thought to have wronged the family, etc., and pretty soon nobody is happy anymore. This is pure literature rather than a pulp style novel, but we couldn't resist the cover art. It's by John Vernon, who painted numerous fronts for Ace Books during the 1950s. This nice effort is from 1957.
Go completely unnoticed in any setting with the amazing new Undercover Operative Trench Coat.
Well, some products don't work as advertised. We weren't going to buy it, but then we learned it came with a complimentary limited edition newspaper with two eye holes cut in it. But when we wore the coat we got spotted immediately and now we have a restraining order. 1955 copyright on this Ace Double of Harry Whittington's One Got Away (Robert Schulz cover art), bound with Cleve F. Adams' Shady Lady (Harry Barton on the art chores). We'll see you after our probation hearing.
Focus on both the writing and the art.
Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel, written in 1945, with this Ace Books edition appearing in 1960. If you haven't read it, basically it tells the story of a man who buys a new pair of glasses that alter his appearance to the extent that he is constantly mistaken for being Jewish. From harboring the same prejudices as others, he is suddenly cast as an enemy, as the hatreds around him are revealed. It's a very good, very earnest book. We've actually shared this, though, because the cover was painted by the Italian artist Sandro Symeoni, and it's the first time we've found his work on a paperback. The art reflects nothing of the book's content, but it's amazing just the same.
Asking for it? How is calling you a big smelly sub-mental mutant who has manners like a badger asking for it?
1955’s The Ripening is a novel in the vein of Steinbeck by Eugene Wyble about oppressed southern tomato pickers (we were thinking those were apples, but no) subsisting according to the whims of a cruel cannery operator. It was poorly reviewed and soon forgotten, but we appreciate the cover art, especially the shadow on the girl's thigh (her name is Teenie, as befits the mandatory nubile farmer's daughter you often find in this genre of fiction). Notice how the shadow of the hand—it could be his or hers, but we're thinking it's his—becomes a sort of beastly claw grasping her leg, yet is kept in balance with the male figure so it's an extension of him and a signifier of his violence and lust. That's clever. Unfortunately, the artist was not clever enough to get credit for his/her work. You may notice the Ace logo says “double” but this not one of their celebrated double-sided novels, with two front covers and the second book printed upside down relative to the first. It's a double-size novel. So you get only one book and one cover here.
How I got here is a long story. It starts with me not knowing how “penile” is spelled.
Above, the cover of Penal Colony, written for Ace Books by Robert S. Close, 1957. The story was inspired by real life Irish convict Elizabeth Callaghan, who in the 1820s was sentenced to the incredibly harsh sentence of death for forgery, then had the sentence commuted and was shipped off to colonize Australia along with one hundred other criminals. She stayed in trouble most of her life and was finally stomped to death in a barroom brawl in 1852 in Geelong. This “lusty” novel is, of course, only loosely based on fact, which is good, because what a downer that'd be. Cover art by uncredited.
Well, if you insist, doctor. I mean, I’ve heard of a Freudian slip, but I already told you I’m not wearing one.
We recently featured a novel about a therapist sleeping with his patient, and today here we go again with this very popular theme. Henry Lewis Nixon’s The Golden Couch is a bit more clinical than Have Love, Will Share, but both books end up in the same slippery place. 1954 with uncredited art.
My husband is down the chimney right now, but when he gets back you’re definitely going on his naughty list.
Switcheroo is a detective yarn set in the unlikely locale of Louisville, Kentucky, but since author Emmett McDowell lived there most of his life, it’s no surprise. Nearly all his writing featured Kentucky in some form, and he even branched out into non-fiction and wrote a Civil War history of Louisville. Switcheroo was his first book, and originally appeared in 1954 as one half of an Ace Double, with Lawrence Treat’s Over the Edge on the flipside. The edition you see above is from the Australian imprint Phantom Books and was published in 1955. Basically, low rent detective Jaimie McRae is hired to locate a missing woman. All the usual benchmarks are there—unhelpful cops, a hot secretary and girl Friday, and unexpected developments. It earned lukewarm reviews all the way around. The uncredited art for Phantom closely resembles the original Victor Olson art for the Ace Double edition, which you see above and right, but we doubt Olson had a hand in the rooftop makeover. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler
and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals
of the Cold War.
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
1916—Einstein Publishes General Relativity
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. Among the effects of the theory are phenomena such as the curvature of space-time, the bending of rays of light in gravitational fields, faster than light universe expansion, and the warping of space time around a rotating body.
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