Her situation is already bad, but as it unfolds it gets even worse.
A woman in a dire situation stars on this cover for Jack Leech's 1963 sleaze novel Satan's Daughters (interestingly, while Leech is credited as author on the outside, John Trimble gets credit inside, so take your pick). The artist here is Bill Edwards, and this is another foldout effort he painted for Europa Books. We love these things, but we wish there were more. As we mentioned previously, there are probably only five.
Gosh, another broken down wreck of a man. Well, tonight I'm not being picky, so get your game face on, champ.
Georges Simenon was an incredibly prolific author who wrote two hundred books, starting at age seventeen, striking gold in 1931 when he invented the character of Inspector Jules Maigret. While he rode the honorable inspector like a sturdy horse for scores of outings, he also made the occasional splash with stand-alone books such as Four Days in a Lifetime, which you see above. It was originally published as Les Quatre Jours du pauvre homme in 1949, and is a tale narrated in two sections about lowly François Lecoin, who starts with little but achieves success via underhanded and amoral means. It's a rise and fall story, and a particularly turbulent one. The Signet edition came in 1953 with cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg.
This club is boring. I think we should let a few criminals join.
Above: a cover for Le club des détectives from Librairie Hatchette, 1947. The author, credited here only as Berkeley, is British writer Anthony Berkeley and this is a translation of his 1929 novel The Poisioned Chocolates Case. Berkeley's franchise detective Roger Sheringham has an informal club called the Crimes Circle where he and several pals regularly examine cases unsolved by Scotland Yard and try to deduce a solution. It's all fun and games until Sheringham recieves a box of chocolates, but gives them away, leading to a club member's wife being poisoned to death. Sheringham also wrote as Francis Iles and A. Monmouth Platts, and published more than a dozen novels. Owing to the time period, those books don't generally have the type of art that attracts us, but this French cover caught our eye.
She's okay when she's good but she's better when she's bad.
How could we not buy a book called Gilda? Rea Michaels' 1964 novel, with its uncredited art of a woman who looks like a burlesque dancer, is obviously not related to the classic film noir, but we figured anyone who'd appropriate the title probably wrote something interesting. Well, it's that, alright. Basically, a film director named Marc Sanders who drank away his career locates a good script and attempts a comeback, but there are several problems: the only financial backing he can garner comes from a gangster, he can't get a distribution deal, and he has creative differences with the screenwriter.
Then there's Gilda Moore, who has also fallen on hard times and convinces him to let her star in the movie. She's a sex addict and is almost guaranteed to sink Sanders' chance for professional redemption, but she's also inexpensive and talented. Can he actually make a good movie with a star who consumes male crewmembers like oatmeal cookies? Though Michaels is no literary wiz, everything she does here works, particularly the way she writes the film's mounting problems. Those reach absurd proportions, even to the extent of a location shoot causing a riot. On the negative side, Gilda is tame for a book that bills itself as sleaze, but that's okay—we've read far worse.
Ever wake up but feel like you're still having a nightmare?
In vintage crime fiction getting the hero laid—or at least having the opportunity arise—is almost a mandatory requirement. The main character of Evan Hunter's, aka Ed McBain's, 1952 novel The Evil Sleep is a heroin addict who, at a certain point, has had cold and hot sweats all day long, hasn't showered, shaved, or brushed his teeth, yet manages to get laid by a clean, beautiful woman. This was a dead giveaway that she was shady, and dead giveaways in mysteries are something authors should avoid. Even so, The Evil Sleep is an interesting book. It's about a junkie who wakes up with a corpse, and must dodge the police, find the real murderer, and get a fix, or somehow keep his shit together without one. It was later published as So Nude, So Dead. The cover you see here, which is unattributed, came from an auction site. Our copy, which came cheap as part of a lot, is basically coverless. By which we mean the femme fatale was cut completely out, probably to end up as part of some high-school art student's collage that has long since gone to a landfill. Very naughty. If you want to buy this in good condition the price might run $400. That's even naughtier.
Part of me really loves nature and solitude. But then part of me wants a frappuccino and a cheese danish.
Frisco Dougherty is back, and as impressed with himself as ever, if we judge by how many times he refers to himself in the third person. Last seen in 1951's Jewel of the Java Sea, he's still knocking around Indonesia in 1960's The Half-Caste, eternally seeking the big score that will earn him enough money to escape the tropics for San Francisco. His newest chance comes in the form of a trio of Americans who have arrived in Java to repatriate the bones of an anthropologist who died in the jungle. Dougherty suspects the coffin they plan to recover contains not a body, but a treasure, and formulates a complicated plan to steal whatever is inside. He follows the group into deepest Borneo, funded by the Wuch'ang crime cartel, who he also plans to betray.
There are two main positives to The Half-Caste. First, the exotic setting mixed with deep background concerning the Dutch East Indies evolving into an indepedent Indonesia influenced by a rising China is interesting; and second, the contents of the coffin are a clever surprise. Overall, though, we considered the book an unworthy sequel to Jewel of the Java Sea. Dougherty always verged on caricature, but now he's fully up that river. While still calculating, bigoted, chauvinistic, and pervy, he's bereft of charm, which used to be his saving grace. We suspect Cushman wanted to show how the tropics had decayed Dougherty's psyche since the first book, but he comes across too unsympathetic. It feels as if Cushman returned to the character unwillingly.
As for the half-caste of the title—Annalee, aka Sangra Brueger—she's one of the trio of coffin seekers, but because Dougherty spends nearly the entire book tracking the group from afar, she's barely in the narrative physically until the last forty pages. Dell Publications used Annalee's meager presence, with an assist from Robert McGinnis cover art, to lure readers, but it's a slight misrepresentation. The book is basically all Dougherty, along with his two male partners. During the era of good girl art there were nearly always women on paperback covers, no matter how flimsy the rationale, so you have to expect this sort of thing. We can't really complain, because certainly, the art is brilliant. We're happy to have it.
Just look at all of you—up and about and alert. You've really regained the will to live since I started.
Not only do the patients in the male ward look better lately—if they keep making this kind of progress they'll soon brawl over the nurse and be pronounced 100% normal. Physically, anyway. Obviously, you have superior cover work here, and that's because it was painted by Rudolph Belarski, one of the can't-miss illustrators of the mid-century era. He painted this one for Venus Books and Mitchell Coleman, aka William Neubauer, and the copyright is 1954. We have Belarski scattered throughout the website, particularly in men's magazines and cover collections, but to see a few interesting individual entries, you can go here, here, here, and here. Also, note that the patient in the foreground is holding a paperback. It's Sylvia Erskine's 1954 novel Nurses' Quarters, for which Belarski also painted the cover. How meta of him. Is that meta? Let's just call it self-referential.
Sorry to interrupt, ladies. Just a reminder—senior medical staff considers attendance at tonight's sponge bath seminar mandatory.
We might as well, right? Okay then, quickly, here's the Rudolph Belarski cover for Sylvia Erskine's Nurses' Quarters that he slipped into his piece for Male Ward, mentioned in the above post. Nurses' Quarters is copyright 1954 for Cameo Books. And you also see the original art.
Okay, in she goes. Now I just need some bubble wrap and a dozen or so pine air fresheners and she's good to ship.
This is such a macabre image, a man stuffing a woman's corpse in a crate, that we probably should have posted it around Halloween. 1958's Et un cercueil pour Cecilia was written by Francis Richard, aka Paul Bérato, for Société d'Editions Générale and its collection Service Secret 078. This is one of those tales where the author pretends to be the hero. In other words, it was written by Bérato as Francis Richard, but the main character is also named Francis Richard, and he's a globetrotting spy who heads to Chile on a mission, where the villains apparently crate up corpses. Though the grim art on this is not attributed, others in the series were signed E.G. or F.G. and the style here is similar. Unfortunately, we don't know who E.G. or F.G. is.
I agree we should put off getting married. For one thing, we'd both have to get divorces first.
We've said it before—you never what you're going to get when you buy vintage paperback digests. The cover art, as in the case of James Clayford's 1949 novel Marriage Can Wait, often has nothing to do with the content. This looks straightforward but it's one of the stranger tales you'll come across. It was written by Peggy Gaddis under her Clayford pseudonym, and it's about a hard partying yacht trip from New York City to Jacksonville, peopled by six jet-set types and one everyman named Tony Ware. As the only unwealthy person aboard aside from the crew, he takes it badly when the yacht's owner Elaine Ellison jilts him one night. She'd invited him to her cabin for nocturnal fun, but he arrived to find another man there. In embarrassment and disgust he jumps overboard and swims ashore. He thinks he's swimming to the Florida mainland. He actually ends up on an island nudist colony. He's horrified, but since supply boats come only once a month the only way he can eat is to doff his garments and join the colony. And it's there that he finds true love in the form of Eve Darby.
Tony's yachting pals, who are habitually hungover each day, assumed he'd abandoned them in port one morning and they'd simply slept through it. Nobody is concerned except Elaine, who realizes she behaved terribly toward him. Weeks later they sail to the nudist island thanks to a bizarre subplot that has them half-jokingly searching for Blackbeard's buried treasure. They don't know the place is inhabited, but they soon find out, and can only stay if they agree to become nudists, which Elaine and her five idle rich friends do in order to secretly search for the treasure. They of course find the long lost Tony, and Elaine is ashamed at how she treated him, then smitten as she realizes she loves this newly bronzed hunk. The only way to try and win him over is to stay at the colony—plus the treasure might be there too—so she settles in for an extended nude sojourn. We'll stop the synopsis there except to say that you have to give Gaddis major points for creativity. The cover art, by the way, is uncredited.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1918—U.S. Congress Passes the Sedition Act
In the U.S., Congress passes a set of amendments to the Espionage Act called the Sedition Act, which makes "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces, as well as language that causes foreigners to view the American government or its institutions with contempt, an imprisonable offense. The Act specifically applies only during times of war, but later is pushed by politicians as a possible peacetime law, specifically to prevent political uprisings in African-American communities. But the Act is never extended and is repealed entirely in 1920.
1905—Las Vegas Is Founded
Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres of barren desert land in what had once been part of Mexico are auctioned off to various buyers. The area sold is located in what later would become the downtown section of the city. From these humble beginnings Vegas becomes the most populous city in Nevada, an internationally renowned resort for gambling, shopping, fine dining and sporting events, as well as a symbol of American excess. Today Las Vegas remains one of the fastest growing municipalities in the United States.
1928—Mickey Mouse Premieres
The animated character Mickey Mouse, along with the female mouse Minnie, premiere in the cartoon Plane Crazy, a short co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. This first cartoon was poorly received, however Mickey would eventually go on to become a smash success, as well as the most recognized symbol of the Disney empire.
1939—Five-Year Old Girl Gives Birth
In Peru, five-year old Lina Medina becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother at the age of five when she gives birth to a boy via a caesarean section necessitated by her small pelvis. Six weeks earlier, Medina had been brought to the hospital because her parents were concerned about her increasing abdominal size. Doctors originally thought she had a tumor, but soon determined she was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Her son is born underweight but healthy, however the identity of the father and the circumstances of Medina's impregnation never become public.
1987—Rita Hayworth Dies
American film actress and dancer Margarita Carmen Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth, who became her era's greatest sex symbol and appeared in sixty-one films, including the iconic Gilda
, dies of Alzheimer's disease in her Manhattan apartment. Naturally shy, Hayworth was the antithesis of the characters she played. She married five times, but none lasted. In the end, she lived alone, cared for by her daughter who lived next door.
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