Apr 092014
 
Paperback 762: Gold Medal 645 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Case of the Cold Coquette
Author: Jonathan Craig
Cover artist: George Mayers

Yours for: $11

GM645

Best things about this cover:
  • Cold? Maybe if she put her shirt back on …
  • Oh, *that* kind of iceberg. The ones that are beautiful and are thawed by money. I was thinking of the ones that are made of ice and float in the ocean and are thawed by the rays of the sun. But I get it now. Good analogy.
  • If you're looking for your right shoe, lady, it's under the bench … there … toward your left … no, not in the corner—down … straight down … are you even trying? 
  • Seriously, what is she doing? Some kind of weird half-naked bench yoga?

GM645bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • "I'm a cop." Original!
  • Champagne tastes … but caviar guts-on-the-track!
  • We get it. Cold, thaw, etc. Give the metaphor a rest; I think it's tired.
  • I always say, the best leads are succulent leads. Like aloe. A great lead, aloe.

Page 123~

"The mark is so hotted up he can't think straight."

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Apr 062014
 


I like to believe that I write crime fiction for the same reasons I’m a newspaper crime reporter — no other stories have the depth and breadth of life, the joys, the sorrows, or the bittersweet poignancy that crime stories do.

Sometimes, if we do our jobs right, we are able to unearth the beautiful in the tragic.

For instance, last weekend at the newspaper was a rough one. I pissed someone off — someone who was grieving the death of a friend. When I came in to work the night shift I was handed a story about some college-age kids whose home had burned down. One kid was in critical condition at the hospital.

Shortly after I got to work, we got the news — he didn’t make it.

All his friends were talking about it on Facebook. I left a message on one page saying I was sorry for their loss and that if anyone wanted to talk to me about their friend, here was my number. I thought it was unobtrusive, but it made one girl very angry.

She asked why I didn’t wait longer before I left my message.

I couldn’t tell her the truth, which was that if we waited a day or two, at that point, a new tragedy would have captured reader’s interest. It’s awful, but true. I couldn’t tell her I had a limited amount of time and a limited amount of space to let people know a few details about this young man, to tell them something that would make him seem real to readers, so he was more than just a faceless victim. That is my job.

It isn’t always easy, but I feel a great responsibility to do this, so that when someone dies they are more than just a name in the paper.

So I just told this girl that I was very sorry for her loss and wished her well.

I also couldn’t tell her the story that makes me reach out to grieving friends and family, even when I don’t want to do so:

Years ago, I was at the Monterey (Calif.) Herald newspaper when I noticed a husband and wife had died within 24 hours of one another and decided to write a story about it.

I reached the couple’s daughter-in-law who told me what had happened: the wife had a stroke and died instantly. When the husband saw her body being taken away, he had a heart attack and died a few hours later.

This woman, Diane, told me about the love her in-laws had shared for the past 50 years. How they came over from Mexico and had worked in the fields picking lettuce since they were 18. How they raised six children and sent four of them to medical school this way.  I was immediately captured by this love story — this couple’s life story, really.

Diane invited me to come to the wake the next day so I could talk to the couple’s other children.
When I arrived, I was told Diane was on her way and to wait inside. The house was packed with mourners. I stood in the corner feeling about as awkward and out of place as I ever have in my life.

Finally Diane arrived and herded all the siblings and me into a bedroom to talk. I explained that I wanted to write about their parent’s great love story.

One of the couple’s daughters glared at me and said, “I’m not talking to you. I got nothing to say to you!”

Saying she was hostile is an understatement.

However, before long everyone was sharing stories with me and laughing and crying — everyone except the one daughter who continued glaring at me.

I went back to the office and wrote my story, adding in some quotes from doctors who said they truly believed someone could die of a broken heart.

About a month later, I got a little envelope in the mail. Inside was a thank you card:

“Thank you so much for writing about my parents. I was the one who didn’t want to talk to you. But I’m so glad you were there. Your article is now a treasured keepsake in our family. Thank you so much.”

And so that, that right there, is why I make those painful calls and visits to grieving family and friends. It’s about finding the beauty, the hope, the love, and the basic goodness of people in a tragedy. And if I don’t care enough to make that call, then who will?

My question for you writer and reader friends:

What speaks to you about crime fiction? Why do you pick up these types of books over and over or — if you are a writer — continue to pen these types of novels?
 Posted by at 6:00 am
Apr 052014
 
Paperback 759: Signet 1188 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
Author: Georges Simenon
Cover artist: Robert Maguire

Yours for: $9

Sig1188

Best things about this cover:
  • That guy has the best "[sigh] Dames…" face ever. Ever.
  • His hands are amazing. This pose is so weird, the framing of the stripper so unusual. I kind of want to shout "Get Out Of The Way, Dude!" but then I remember a. she's dead, so that's kind of wrong, and b. artistically, this cover is original and cool.
  • It's hard to believe she's dead with her right arm in that position and her right knee up like that. I say she's alive, and therefore, "Get Out Of The Way, Dude!"

Sig1188bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • "Yes, I smoke a pipe. Why? Because I'm manly and Belgian—what the fuck do you care, buddy?"
  • Mmm, "dark bistros" and "smoke-filled dives" … tell me more.
  • Simenon is one of those writers I keep meaning to read and never do. I read one novel, I think: "Maigret à New York." In French. I enjoyed it. The end.

Page 123~

They had only about five hundred yards to go in the nearly deserted boulevard. The nightclubs, their signs glowing in the rain, couldn't be making a fortune in this kind of weather, and the bedecked doormen stayed under cover, ready to unfurl their big red umbrellas.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 302014
 
By Kristi Belcamino
I’m just going to say right off the bat that I’m a little bit intimidated to even attempt to fill Joelle Charbonneau’s shoes on this amazing blog.
Why? Well, because she’s a rock star.
Joelle is one of the most dedicated and talented writers I know. And for some reason, I’ve been lucky enough to have her in my corner for the last few years. Damn lucky.
We first met when she judged a contest I entered. She wrote her name on my judging form, and asked me to keep in touch. Ever since that day, she’s been one of the most supportive and nicest writers I’ve ever met. And as I got to know her, I soon realized she was by far one of the hardest working writers out there, as well.
So when Joelle asked me to take her spot here at Do Some Damage on Sundays, I was floored, flattered, and thrilled at the same time. She’ll be back to guest post and I made sure to tell her if she ever changes her mind, this spot is really and truly always hers.
By now, though, you’re probably wondering who is Kristi Belcamino.
I’m a crime fiction writer, Italian mama of two feisty little girls, and a part-time newspaper reporter living in Minneapolis. My first novel, Blessed are the Dead, goes on sale June 10th. It’s inspired by my dealings with a serial killer when I was a full-time cops reporter working the San Francisco Bay Area crime beat.
When my editor and publicist found out I’d been asked to join Do Some Damage, they immediately suggested I reveal the cover for my new book here first. (Just shows how respected and beloved this blog is.)
Steve Weddle was gracious enough to give me the thumbs up on revealing my cover as part of my first post and the stars aligned.
Before I do so, I want to thank Steve and Joelle and all you loyal readers for allowing me to take over the Sunday spot on this blog. I’ve got a bunch of ideas for posts, but am also very excited to hear what you’d like to read about, so feel free to shoot me an email at kristibelcamino@gmail.com and tell me your thoughts and ideas. You can also find out more about me at my website, www.kristibelcamino.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of Do Some Damage!
Here is the back cover copy for my book, Blessed are the Dead

To catch a killer, one reporter must risk it all...
San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares, yet walking away unscathed.
When a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, her quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper, Jack Dean Johnson, who reels her in with promises to reveal his exploits as a long-time serial killer to her alone. Gabriella's passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect Johnson may have ties to her own dark past: her sister’s murder.
 Risking her life, her job, and everything she holds dear, Gabriella embarks on a path to find answers and stop a deranged murderer before he strikes again.
Perfect for fans of Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series!

If you want to preorder a copy of the book you can do that here.  
If you don't want to wait, keep an eye on my Facebook page. You might just have a chance to win an early copy. 
And (drumroll please) here is the cover:




 Posted by at 6:00 am
Mar 262014
 
Paperback 757: Dell 223 (1st ptg, 1948)

Title: Hammett Homicides
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Cover artist: Gerald Gregg

Yours for: $30

Dell223-1

Best things about this cover:
  • Taste the (lead) rainbow!
  • Uh, guys? I think it's probably dead now.
  • I see a pretty butterfly.
  • Gerald Gregg is my favorite early, semi-abstract, non-sleazy cover artist.

Dell223bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • [ahem] … MAPBACK!
  • So iconic—Hammett's S.F.!
  • Sausaleto? What the?! … aw, I can't stay mad at you, mapback! Come here!

Page 123~ (opening paragraph of "The Main Death")

The captain told me Hacken and Begg were handling the job. I caught them leaving the detectives' assembly room. Begg was a freckled heavyweight, as friendly as a Saint Bernard puppy, but less intelligent. Lanky Detective-Sergeant Hacken, not so playful, carried the team's brains behind his worried hatchet face.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Mar 022014
 
Paperback 748: Graphic 142 (PBO, 1956)

Title: Fair Prey
Author: Will Duke [pen name of William Campbell Gault]
Cover artist: Oliver Brabbins

Yours for: $22

Graphic142

Best things about this cover:
  • Will duke for food.
  • She is sporting some pretty serious shoulder muscle definition. 
  • It's like fair play. Only it's prey. Get it?
  • It's all kind of chaotic. Too crowded, too many things happening. Like some reality show where people compete to see who gets to be the actual cover subject. Dead man is very convincing, but the lady is going full axilla … that's going to be hard to beat. But wait, here comes a cop … with a drifter in his wake, trying to impede him … this is tough to call, Jim.


Graphic142bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • Golf. Huh. Didn't see that coming.
  • "Out of my way, baby. That breakfast buffet's calling my name."
  • This is some pretty low-grade cover copy. I'm at least vaguely familiar with golf terminology, but … can you be "in" par? Is that a recognizable play on words, or just faux-sensational nonsense?

Page 123~

I remember the gulp and the moisture in my eyes, but I don't remember what I said. 

"The Gulp and the Moisture" was, of course, Norman Mailer's far, far less successful follow-up to "The Naked and the Dead."

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Feb 262014
 
Paperback 746: Avon 21 (1st ptg, 1942)

TitleThe Avon Book of Detective and Crime Stories
Editor: John Rhode
Cover artist: NA

Yours for: $10

Avon21

Best things about this cover:
  • The font? Maybe? Also pink. Pink is nice.
  • This old Avon has held up *really* well. I love a good old paperback that's beat-as-f*ck but still perfectly solid and tight. You could read this a hundred times and it would just get more broken in.
  • This is a classic detection bonanza right here. Not really my cup, but a pretty sweet collection nonetheless.
Avon21bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • Shakespeare-Head!
  • Shakespeare likes mysteries and also the US Armed Forces. Heed Shakespeare's plea, y'all.
  • You can store paperbacks in such things as "clothing" or those new-fangled contraptions, "bags."

Page 123~ (from "A Shot in the Night" by The Baroness Orczy)

My experience is that in all emotions and all weaknesses, in all virtues and in all vices, women invariably outdo the men.

But this is beside the point.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Feb 192014
 
Paperback 744: Signet 1461 (PBO, 1957)

Title: Wild Town
Author: Jim Thompson
Cover artist: Robert ***ing Maguire!

Yours for: $65

Sig1461

Best things about this cover:
  • It's pretty much the quintessential cover. It's the first book I brought home (almost 20 years ago now) that made me feel like I had committed; I was really doing this; I was a collector. I got into paperback collecting because of Polito's Thompson biography, with its B&W repros of all Thompson's Lion paperback originals from the '50s. The idea that I actually owned a first edition J.T.—however mauled (and it is mauled)—was mind-blowing to me. I spent more than I should have, as I often did when buying books from my earliest dealer (what's up, Kaleidoscope?), but I Did Not (and Do Not) Care. 
  • Robert Maguire is the greatest paperback cover artist of all time and I will fight anyone who says otherwise, despite my being highly averse to violence of all kinds. That is how much I care about this subject.
  • I'm not even sure how you *get* a book to tear like that. It's like some drunk person decided to see if he could tear it in half, after failing to get anywhere with the phone book, and then got distracted immediately after starting. Gash runs from spine to dead center of the cover and appears to affect many of the first pages. The effect on readability, however, as well as overall book tightness, is nil.
  • "Are you suffering from migraines brought on by stress, hormones, or the occasional dead guy in your oil field?! We've all been there, right ladies?"

Sig1461bc

Best things about this back cover:
  • Put up or shut up, Job!
  • Hey look—competent, genuinely engaging cover copy! Huzzah.
  • It's your classic sheriff-meets-beautiful-tramp-of-a-wife story. I'm sure it all ends well.

Page 123~

Her head moved irritably against the pillows. She took a deep breath and held it; then, slowly let it out again in a quiet sigh of surrender.
"All right, Bugs," she said. "All right, darling. You don't trust me, but I'll still—"
"Out with it!"
"I want you to kill him. I want you to kill my husband!"

So, spoiler alert, I guess.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]
Feb 192014
 
You'd think that in a noir novel called THE BITCH, the title character would be a woman, but that's not the case in Les Edgerton's compelling novel from New Pulp Press. As it turns out, "The Bitch" is prison slang for getting a life sentence as a habitual criminal. That's the threat that two-time ex-con and master burglar Jake Bishop faces as he tries to live a normal life with his pregnant