Rex Parker

Feb 272015
Paperback 862: Dell First Edition B126 (PBO, 1959)

Title: The Valiant Strain
Author: Kenneth E. Shiflet
Cover artist: [Robert McGinnis]

Estimated value: $8-10

Best things about this cover:

  • Lieutenant Grumpystache misses his Xbox.
  • That neckerchief is beautiful. I also love the orange, the hint of mountains, the way the line of soldiers on horseback extends and fades to nothing. Fine little touches like these make this potentially generic cover visually interesting.
  • Turns out McGinnis can paint things other than bored-looking half-naked ladies with ample hips. I had to double-check my own labeling just now, because I thought "no way this is McGinnis."

Best things about this back cover:

  • "A story as big and rugged as these two giant dueling cocks … oh, sorry sabers. Those are sabers. All appearances to the contrary … sabers."
  • I can't wait to read about the "strain" that brought the giant dueling cocks men to their "final glory." I am in. Money down, out the door. You had me at "shavetail."

Page 123~

Roan thought of how Graham had denied them.

Don't deny them, Graham. Open your heart. Let your love flow. And nevermind that I'm taking things out of context, just go with it.


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Feb 202015
Paperback 861: Pocket Books 4527 (8th ptg, 1963)

Title: The Case of the Cautious Coquette
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Cover artist: [Robert McGinnis]

Yours for: $10-12


Best things about this cover:
  • Here's the thing about McGinnis women: dead eyes. They freak me out a level at the face level. At a certain other level (Not Pictured), I find them delightful. So, in short, this cover does little for me from a Great Girl Art perspective.
  • From a Holy Crap Pink perspective, it's quite arresting.
  • Also, from a hair perspective.
  • Also, with the exception of a small tear on the back cover, this book is in like-new condition. Shiny and crisp. The pink is a pure '50s variety rarely seen in the wilds of today.
  • Also, a "Girls With Guns" cover is a "Girls With Guns Cover"—I'll take it. Check out these other covers of the same title:

[Whoa!!! Winner]

And now today's back cover:


Best things about this back cover:

  • Tire tracks! That's a pretty damned good design element, especially as a way of introducing the idea of a "hit-and-run."
  • This is the last time in U.S. history that "$100.00!!" was presented as a compelling figure.
  • Della goes next-level with her wordplay banter (from metaphorical "angles" to literal "curves"). And then the cover copy brings the imagery full circle back to the tire tracks. Well done, everyone.

Page 123~

"Della, run out and scout the corridor. Let me know if it's clear."

In case you were wondering who the badass was in this little relationship.


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Feb 162015
Paperback 860: Gold Medal 784 (PBO, 1958)

Title: Case of the Petticoat Murder
Author: Jonathan Craig
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $20


Best things about this cover:

  • The second movement of "Eroica" *is* pretty groovy…
  • That hand is halfway between Fear Hand and "You Want Some of This?" Hand.
  • I really, really like that bare suggestion of a bed frame. It's a pair of lips! It's a gun sight! The whole spirit of Sexy/Danger conveyed in a few graceful black arcs.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Mustard. I think that's what I'm looking at.
  • I wish all the non-green words would just drop away. Now that's what I call "poetry."
  • You rarely see detectives so proud of their necrophilic tendencies.

Page 123~

"Because, for one thing, I don't care for alligator."


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Feb 132015
Paperback 859: Berkley X1371 (PBO, 1967)

Title: The Space Swimmers
Author: Gordon Dickson
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Estimated value: $5-10


Best things about this cover:

  • It was originally titled "The Space Sperm," but … you know.
  • Yoga Joe knew all the angles.
  • This is a really unusual Richard Powers cover. His stuff's usually more epic and spindly and exotic. This is pretty muddled and boring coming from the guy who did the cover for Sirens of Titan.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Skye Terrier!
  • Patrick Joya, author of "The Joya Sex."
  • There's some pretty hackneyed phrasing in here, capped off by that last little bit. Yuck.

Page 123~

"Now and ever," replied Johnny. "Right from the very beginning, whether we knew it or not, they've been the only hope we had." 

I can almost feel the wind blowing through his hair as he stares meaningfully off into the distance. Space opera by way of Douglas Sirk.


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Feb 082015
Paperback 858: Black Lizard unnumbered (1st ptg, 1988)

Title: Only in L.A.
Author: Murray Sinclair
Cover artist: Kirwan

Estimated value: $8-12


Best things about this cover:

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the first Pop Sensation book with a "1988" date.
  • It's like she's daring the peeping toms. "You want some of this? Well, let's go! … Pussies."
  • That is one of the '80s-est ladies ever. She looks like she's getting ready to go out to audition to be the lady on the cover of Duran Duran's "Rio." Or maybe she's headed out to visit her friend, this lady:

[Artist I'm thinking of is Patrick Nagel.]

And the back cover:


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ah, so much high-contrast teeny tiny white text. Gah. Horrible.
  • Back cover copy makes the story sound routine: "the usual political work"? "You know, blah blah whiskey blah blah corruption blah blah guns gutter dogs sleaze gun butt noir."
  • This sounds like a slightly more interesting "Taken."

Page 123~

Aikens had talked turkey. He hadn't made a mistake or bullshitted me. I told my soul brother I wanted to go over there. 

Long story short, totally not-racist white narrator's black friend "Aikens" gets blown apart by gun fire before the page is over.


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Feb 062015
Paperback 857: Crest Books 340 (PBO, 1959)

Title: Jimmy Hoffa's Hot
Author: John Bartlow Martin
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • Lady with questionable taste says what?
  • This is not a dynamic, or even a distinctive, picture. Would go equally well with book entitled, "Ohio's Best Funeral Directors."
  • John Bartlow Martin also wrote Butcher's Dozen (Signet 909).


Best things about this back cover:
  • Now *that* Hoffa picture — *that's* what I'm talkin' about! "The Creature Rose In Fury From The Primordial Swamp …"
  • This back cover scrupulously avoids the terms "mafia" or "organized crime," opting instead only for the  shadowy term, "underworld."
  • "I Will Feast On Your Pancreas, Bobby Haircut!" Priceless.

Page 123~

MR. HOFFA: To the best of my recollection, I must recall on my memory, I cannot remember.
MR. KENNEDY: "To the best of my recollection I must recall on my memory that I cannot remember," is that your answer?

MR. HOFFA: No, I'm sorry. That last part should be "I banged your mother." I'll try to enunciate more clearly. My apologies.


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Feb 042015
Paperback 856: Dell 617 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Dividend on Death
Author: Brett Halliday
Cover artist: Robert Stanley

Estimated value: $10-12


Best things about this cover:

  • Mike Shayne fights back against Obama's Death Panels.
  • "*That's* no thermometer!" cried Mike Shayne.
  • It looks like he's trying to do some gun hackysack and she's like "WTF!?"
  • His tie is awesome. Did he fall from the sky?


Best things about this back cover:

  • How much for the alliteration classes?
  • "a flock of kisses from a hot-mouthed blond"—"Her kisses were like feverish sheep…"
  • Dr. Pedique has the cure! Or so I imagine.

Page 123~

She gazed at him disdainfully. "What gave you the idea you were such hot stuff? If you haven't anything else on your mind, I'll ask you to go. I won't weep any salty tears if I never see you again."

"Only freshwater tears for you, sailor. Now scram!"


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Jan 282015
Paperback 855: Popular Giant PC 850 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: The Remarkable Kennedys
Author: Joe McCarthy
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $5-8


Best things about this cover:

  • That remarkable hair. He's actually holding a nail in his left hand, and he's about to drive it into the desk with his head.
  • Remarkably, this book was published in February 1960, well before JFK was president. It is a slim little piece of Americana/Propaganda.
  • Not *that* Joe McCarthy (I assume).


Best things about this back cover: 

  • John Folksy Kennedy.
  • Wow, Eunice was a tall drink of water.
  • The unreadable subtitle on that Robert F. Kennedy book is "The McClellan Committee's Crusade Against Jimmy Hoffa and Corrupt Labor Unions"

Page 123~

"He did well, but he would have done much better if he had somebody with him who knew the score instead of all those crew-cut college boys in their silk suits," one veteran says.

"Crew-College Boys In Their Silk Suits" sounds like a niche-market pin-up calendar.


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Jan 262015
Paperback 854: Lion Books 42 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: Spring Riot
Author: Jay Presson [Jay Presson Allen, screenwriter of some note; also, a woman] [h/t Bill Crider]
Cover artist: Alan Smithee (uncredited, actually)

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • "I want MORE than your body, Susan … I want … I want your green sofa. I'll give you $20."
  • His face reminds me of the Jaime Sommers ("The Bionic Woman") beauty/styling head my sister got once as a gift and then left on the bricks in front of the fire and then her face did a slow horror-movie cave-in. It's a good thing we can't see the right side of his face, because I am convinced it is doing terrible things.
  • Art here is just terrible. Those hands! His are practically amphibious. Hyper-slim and not convincingly human.
  • I love her 1000-yard stare. "No, Steve. I'm meant for bigger, for much bigger things than this book cover."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ah, the '50s, when rape = "passion." Good times.
  • I keep seeing "Kipping Silk" and thinking "that sounds like fun … what is that?"
  • "His mouth closed down on hers…" For the CPR fetishist in all of us!
  • I love the idea of her palm "exploding" across his mouth. Exploding palms would be a cool superpower.
  • Oh, she's "evil," so it's OK. You can enjoy the rape scene with no guilt. Just don't your friends how it ends (!?!).

Page 123~

And wonder of wonders, the next day she did go docilely with him to the dentist.

I don't even want to touch that sentence. I'm gonna leave it there in all its perfect, crystalline glory.


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Jan 232015
Paperback 853: Bantam 830 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: Anna Becker
Author: Max White
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $8-12

Donation to the collection from The Second Reader Bookshop (Buffalo, NY)


Best things about this cover:

  • Who can forget Anna Becker's great novel, "Max White"? Or vice versa, I forget.
  • This cover raises one (and only one) very important question: Where Can I Get That Lamp!?
  • Anna had vowed to protect the Jesus Chair at all costs! ALL COSTS!
  • Ew, what is he doing with his right thumb?
  • Ew, "torn between fright and desire" is rapist talk, man. "She was shaking and resisting, but … ya know." Gross.


Best things about this back cover:

  • So basically it's an exposé of the sexy librarian.
  • A "FRANK" exposé! Hell yeah, "frank"!
  • Sometimes I think paperbacks came to exist because hardback dust jacket cover art was just So Bad.

Page 123~

So when Harrison said he liked Anna better now, she was not prepared to see what he meant.

I understand, Anna. We all understand. P.S. run.


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