Vintage Pulp Dec 29 2023
THE HOLIDAYS ARE MURDER
Some people never even make it to the first day of Christmas.


We thought about sharing this cover earlier, but decided to be literal with the title and reveal nothing until after Christmas. Do Not Murder Before Christmas was written by Jack Iams and published in 1949 in hardback by William Morrow & Co., then by Dell as a paperback a bit later the same year. It's a murder mystery in the Agatha Christie vein about an elderly smalltown toymaker whose secret knowledge of his community gets him killed when someone decides to suppress evidence of a crime.

While these sorts of whodunnits aren't hard-boiled or particularly action packed, they're often superior within the crime genre because of their humanized relationships and relatable women. This one is no exception, as a crucial aspect of the puzzle revolves around Jane Hewes, local beauty who's desired by both the scion of a wealthy family that has exploited the town for generations, and by the everyman newspaper editor who has spent years writing unflattering articles about that family. Their rivalry adds plenty to the story. They even have a fistfight.

This is the second Iams mystery we've read, along with Girl Meets Body, and it's clear that he can write as well as construct. The central plot contrivance—that every child who ever came to the toymaker's shop signed a visitor's book, and this somehow has the power to expose a killer—is something so leftfield we had to marvel. The tale's winning protagonist and involving love story make the final result a total winner. If you find an Iams novel anywhere, snag it.
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Vintage Pulp Mar 23 2020
DYING TO SEE HER
Wow, he sees me naked and drops dead. I guess all those guys were right—I do have a killer body.


Above you see a Victor Kalin cover for Girl Meets Body, written by Jack Iams for Dell Publications, and published in 1947. In the story a woman having a nude walkabout on a secluded New Jersey beach encounters a corpse. The discovery unleashes problems with police, mobsters, tabloids, and particularly her husband, who she married in England during World War II, before being kept away from him by the conflict for two years. The husband soon suspects this wife he barely knows and has spent only a few weeks with total has a secret connection to the murdered man.
 
It sounds sinister, but Iams is not trying to be too serious with this book. Major characters are named Whittlebait, Barrelforth, and Squareless, if that gives you an indication of the feel. The writing style is a bit Thin Man, with numerous quips and asides, and the spouses, named Sybil and Tim, are cast as dueling lovebirds. Throughout the arguments there's never a doubt they'll work it out. They also work out the mystery, unconvincingly, but overall, we have to say the book was enjoyable. We were betting Sybil and Tim would be recurring characters, but it doesn't seem like that happened. Girl Meets Body is the first and last of them.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 11 2014
THE TOWERS THAT BE
Hey everybody—get an Eiffel of these!

If you’ve been visiting the site for a while, you perhaps remember the cover we shared for H.R. Lenormand’s Renée, which shows a lonely woman staring out of her room at the majestic—and in that context clearly metaphorical—Eiffel Tower. Since then we’ve seen the tower pop up on many covers, including Passion in Paris by Harrison Stone, above, so today we’ve compiled a collection. Most of these examples view the tower as just an innocent civic landmark, but take it from us—once the idea that it stands for something else gets into your head you really can’t get it out. Interestingly, while the tower appears on many U.S. book fronts, we found it on only two of the hundreds of French covers we have. Perhaps they consider it too banal. Twenty-one scans below.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
June 18
1928—Earhart Crosses Atlantic Ocean
American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean, riding as a passenger in a plane piloted by Wilmer Stutz and maintained by Lou Gordon. Earhart would four years later go on to complete a trans-Atlantic flight as a pilot, leaving from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, accomplishing the feat solo without a co-pilot or mechanic.
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