Feb 252015
The amazing Robert McGinnis, nearly 90 years-old and not missing a trick, provides this gorgeous cover for Max Allan Collins' latest "Quarry" novel from Hard Case Crime. I just got this book and it's right on top of the reading pile. Collins' "Quarry" novels, which chronicle the life of a hardboiled professional killer, are among my favorite books - and Quarry one of my favorite protagonists - in the genre. 
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.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
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."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
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.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
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!"


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Jan 042015
Paperback 848: Dell 105 (1st ptg, 1946)

Title: Appointment with Death
Author: Agatha Christie
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Estimated value: $15-25


Best things about this cover:

  • "Where have you been? You're late. We had an appointment. [Sigh]. I guess we can get coffee and wait for the next tour to start, but … I really wish you'd called." #PassiveAggressiveDeath
  • Killer Gerald Gregg cover. KILLER.
  • "AN Hercule Poirot Mystery"—I like that the cover knows the "H" is silent.


Best things about this back cover:

  • O, man, jackpot. First off, MAPBACK!
  • Second off, check out the 1946 map! Predates existence of Israel by a scant two years.
  • Third, check out the insert map from "Star Wars." You can see a Jawa camp and everything.

Page 123~

"None of the servants seemed to be about, but I found some soda water and drank it."

You'll thrill to the tale of the intrepid rich guy who risked all to survive in … A House Without Servants.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Dec 312014
Paperback 846: Pocket Books 4604 (1st ptg, 1963)

Title: Bachelors Get Lonely
Author: A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • I can confirm the basic premise of this title.
  • I find this cover oddly sexy, if wildly implausible.
  • Pink. I dig it. At least it's different.


Best things about this back cover:

  • You had me at "Stripper Daffidill (sic!?) Lawson"
  • What an odd photo choice. Random stock photo, faded and blued.
  • Lam's pretty light-hearted for someone trying to catch a murderous voyeur.
  • "Swell."

Page 123~

"The walls are terribly thin," she whispered. "People will know that … that I'm having a visitor."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Dec 102014
Paperback 841: Signet 1767 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: The Bombshell
Author: Carter Brown
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Estimated value: $8-10


Best things about this cover:

  • One of the few crime novels to take place entirely inside a circus tent.
  • Either that is a letter-perfect come-hither look or the rabid dog on her head has burrowed deep into her skull and now has full mind-control capabilities.
  • That is one hell of a negligee. So … negligible.
  • You can tell police dude is confused. "Shoot the thing on her head … or ask her out? Damn it, this job's hard!"
  • Title font victory! Total A+.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I think I found my new look for 2015. I am only 1/4 kidding. (The 1/4 that contains the cigarette)
  • Anagrams to LIE TALLY, which I'm sure is high, 'cause she's a blonde dame, know what I'm sayin'? Also LIT ALLEY, where she buys all her books, and TILE ALLY, as she's known in the bathroom flooring industry.
  • carter brown sold 25.5 million books without capital letters in his name so he's not about to start now.

Page 123~

 "Al!" She jumped up and down gleefully. "That thing's a microphone, isn't it?"

"It's whatever you want it to be, baby."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Dec 052014
Paperback 840: Gold Medal k1529 (PBO, 1965)

Title: Not I, Said the Vixen
Author: Bill S. Ballinger
Cover artist: [Bill Johnson]

Estimated value: $8-12

Donation to the collection from Mr. John Q. Brooklyn (I don't want to use real names w/o permission). Guy asks me "Can I send you a book for your blog?" Twist my arm!


Best things about this cover:

  • "Isn't it true that your favorite letter is "I", Miss Lorents? ANSWER THE QUESTION!"
  • "Do you deny that you are overwhelmingly sensual? DO YOU!?"
  • This is a "vixen"? This looks like someone who showed up to a table reading for her role as "Vixen" in an episode of "Perry Mason." She does have a pretty boss head-tilt, but my prescription for greater vixenitude is less clothes, more gun. And … yeah, sure, go ahead and put on the glasses. OK, now shoot the D.A. and then stand over his body like, "told ya."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Way to bury the lede, Gold Medal. How is PROWLED THE WORLD OF TWILIGHT WOMEN not on the cover!?
  • She "ruined her lovers with the hot breath of scandal" ("scandal" being a last-minute substitute for "chili cheese fries")
  • "Please state your name for the record." "Ivy Lorents." "And how do you spell 'Ivy,' Miss Lorents? I presume it starts 'I', 'V'…" "Not I." "Objection! Permission to treat the vixen as sensual, your honor."

Page 123~

"You had her … falling all over herself," Ivy said, pleased with the memory of Pauline's discomfort.

Please invest that sentence with all the Sapphic innuendo you can muster.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Nov 072014
Written by Devin O'Leary
Illustrated by Jason Waskey

2 Color, Graphic Novel

Comico, 1992

This slender, 48-page graphic novel from '92 is a bit of an oddity. It's a 40's-styled film noir pastiche with subtle sci-fi overtones that possesses some minor similarities to Alex Proyas' 1998 motion picture, Dark City.

Trench coat-clad P.I. Vin Dressler searches for a missing girl in an unnamed city/police state divided into a red sector and a blue sector, where it "rains every day." Like the aforementioned Dark City, the town has numerous billboards scattered around, advertising luxurious, tropical vacations, but no one seems to have ever left the city, nor does there appear to be any world beyond its borders.

The plot is thin and straightforward, the script by O'Leary rife with captions and dialogue loaded with the stereotyped similes and metaphors generally associated with private eye voice-overs. So loaded, in fact, that it's almost a parody of the Raymond Chandler style, though I somehow doubt that was the intent. The writer tries for a Kafka-esque tone of surreality, but is only partially successful. It's not terrible, just kind of half-baked.

The art by Waskey, apparently rendered in black & white pastels with occasional spots of red, is nicely done, atmospheric and moody, although there's a heavy reliance on photo reference. In fact, various noir icons make appearances in the book – copied directly from classic film stills – including Peter Lorre, Ingrid Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock. Some panels (the heavily referenced ones) are nicer than others, but the overall effect is quite pleasing, and is the book's main selling point.

For fans of classic film noir, Falls The Gotham Rain is a decent homage, but offers very little in the way of anything new. Its sci-fi elements are so slight as to be easily missed, and have little effect on the story itself, effectively amounting to nothing. Still, the art is nice, it's a quick read, and its heart seems to be in the right place.

If you stumble across a copy in a back issue bin somewhere, its worth picking up.

Three out of Six Bullets.