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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Jan 212015
Paperback 852: Pocket Books 6093 (PBO, 1962)

Title: The Astronaut
Author: Hank Searls
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $5-10

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


Best things about this cover:

  • It's the touching story of a lonely Stormtrooper and his inflatable girlfriend…
  • If you're gonna fall to your death, may as well go out ogling bikini-clad blondes.
  • This must be just before he captures her and puts her in a bottle and makes her wear pajamas all day long.
  • The design here is actually spectacular. It's got that wackadoodle '60s vibe. Nice incorporation of the letter "O" into the spacesuit design. Stars in her eyes are a little cheesy / spot-on, but her little green bikini makes a nice visual impact, and the overall sun-drenchedness of the thing is a nice counterbalance to my mostly Dark cover collection.


Best things about this back cover:

  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Literally.
  • "You down with M.P.P.?" ("M.S. Ph.D.!")
  • Whoa, "hanky-panky at the motel"!? Tell me more. Seriously, if it happens at motels, I need to know.
  • Project Head? Really? No one batted an eyelash at that? OK, then, '60s, carry on …

Page 123~

Straight in front of him were the retro-rocket controls, welded immovably in place so that the chimp could not override ground control.

Chimps? It's got chimps? Talk about burying the lede…


P.S. Many thanks to John from The Second Reader Bookshop in Buffalo, NY, who reads my crossword blog and responded to my fund-raising drive there with a donation of books for here. Two more coming later this week.

P.P.S. John also sent me this postcard, which … well, if you all won't appreciate it, I don't know who will:

[Miss Lube Rack]

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Jan 082015
Paperback 849: Pocket Books 328 (1st ptg, 1945)

Title: Warrant for X
Author: Philip MacDonald
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • "Light, damn you! Stupid modern, flame retardant bodies! I want s'mores now!"
  • By far the fanciest lamppost you're likely to see on any of my covers.
  • I genuinely love how the body spills out of frame. And the color scheme. And the "X".


Best things about this back cover:

  • "Kidnapping!" is pretty anti-climactic. "Cannibalism!" was about what I was expecting with that build-up.
  • They used to tell you how much it would cost to ship the book to a soldier overseas. Now it's just "Share it with anyone in a uniform, don't ask us what it costs, how should we know?" I hope people gave books to their diner waitresses.

Page 123~

He said: "I'm a busy man. Great matters hang upon my every word and action." He drank coffee. "I might justly be likened to the spider."

Though not lacking in confidence, Anthony was still working on his metaphor skills.


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Nov 292014
Paperback 839: Bantam 1343 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Man From Tomorrow
Author: Wilson Tucker
Cover artist: Uncredited

Approximate value: $6-10


Best things about this cover:

  • "OK, so main guy shoots beams out of his eyes, and then the lady in his head shoots beams out of her face and … I don't know … let's say, whirlpool aliens wicker man done. Got it?"
  • This floating head has his own internal floating head. That's pretty high-end.
  • Font colors are wicked stupid.
  • Ooh, this novel "tells of something which may be happening now." Ooh, is it Armageddon? Winter? The Greater Rochester Arts & Crafts Festival!? I'm gonna have to read this.


Best things about this back cover:
  • And the razor frisbee takes out another alien.
  • "Perhaps" … way to sell it!
  • The Paul Breens = your next band name.

Page 123~

Paul wondered if this new woman in the adjoining apartment would be a plant.

"A ficus, maybe," he fantasized.


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Nov 272014
Paperback 838: Avon 873 (2nd ptg?, 1960)

Title: Hell-Town in Texas
Author: Leslie Ernenwein
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $15-20


Best things about this cover:

  • Are there other kinds of towns in Texas?
  • Despite appearing relatively generic, there's actually something spare, pared-down, and gorgeous about this cover. The pure blue background gives a sense of delicacy to the men and horses, and that dust is some kind of abstract magic. Just great.
  • Books don't come in better condition than this. Off-the-shelf new. Sparkly, even.


Best things about this back cover:

  • But what's his name!?
  • Clyde Lambert grabbed a fish, but Marshal Terhune stopped him: "No, Clyde. Not Missouri Style. *Texas* Style." So they dueled with grapefruits.
  • That's a pretty nice marshal sketch, truth be told. Only marshals and stone-cold fops can get away with an ascot like that.

Page 123~

Contacting the same friends who'd turned down the Oro Kid scheme, he found them eager to invest their savings in his sawmill proposition.

There's two great crime novel titles right there: "The Oro Kid Scheme" and "The Sawmill Proposition."  You're welcome, writers.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Apr 072014
Paperback 760: Dell 696 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Slan
Author: A.E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Uncredited, aarrgh!

Yours for: $20


Best things about this cover:
  • "I Was a 22nd-Century Gun Moll!"
  • Her mouth! Is she talking? Hissing? Shouting "Slan!"?
  • I have seen the future. It is full of 8th graders' atom diagrams.
  • Pretty bold to paint right on top of a well-used bandage.
  • Quintessential mid-century sci-fi cover art. Iconic. Beautiful. Perfect.


Best things about this back cover.
  • Why aren't people named "Groff" any more? Or "Jommy"?
  • Idea: Western / Scifi epic with a hero named "Slim Tendrils"…
  • I'm guessing that's not "Jommy" on the cover. But who knows what the future holds…

Page 123~

The impression smashed into fragments. Granny.

That has to be the weirdest two-sentence sequence in literary history.


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Mar 122014
Paperback 751: Softcover Library B853X (PBO, 1965)

Title: The Oddballs
Author: Stacey Clubb
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: Not For Sale—part of the Doug Peterson Collection


Best things about this cover:
  • "I don't think they're so odd," he said, self-consciously.
  • So many questions. Such as, where has her right arm got to? Or, why their bed is a parallelogram?
  • Remember the fad of wearing two differently colored stockings!? Me either.
  • "You awake? … tickle tickle! … alright then, I'm just going to remove your head with my jaws now, OK? Just relax."
  • "The only practical sex was unnatural sex!" — Having trouble understanding the use of the word "practical" here. "Well, see, I would just put my penis in your vagina, but … it's really not practical for me ... right now … at this juncture … you know? So, let's just bring in the elephant and the mustard and see how it goes, mkay? It's just easier that way."


Best things about this back cover:
  • Shadowy = Lesbiany. In case you're unfamiliar with paperback code.
  • INA, ha ha! Calling all crossword constructors, we got a live one!
  • I want a business card that reads "Encourager of odd rites and practices."

Page 123~

The sting of his blow had not penetrated.

Nope, sorry, that was just the first thing I opened to. Hang on … OK, here we go:

"Bernice," he called out.

But the bikini-clad goddess who appeared casually at the top of the mezzanine stairs in response to his blithe summons was not, of course, Bernice.

If ever there was a name custom-made for softcore porn, that name is Blithe Summons.


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Feb 232014
Paperback 745: Gold Medal 111 (PBO, 1950)

Title: The Wild Horse
Author: Les Savage, Jr.
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $10


Best things about this cover:
  • The horse or the girl! Every man must choose.
  • When you find your horse "desirable," well, it reacts like this.
  • Few writers were more savage than … Les Savage!"
  • Musculature lovingly drawn by someone who appears to have spent a Lot of time underneath a horse.


Best things about this back cover:
  • "If you like girls and horses and especially girl horses, prepare your blood for stirring!"
  • Oh, the horse is a him. The plot thickens.
  • Look, there's "horse lover" and then there's whatever bizarre romance novel shenanigans is going on here. If your horse is kindling in your breast a wild dream of possession for more than four hours, see a doctor.
  • He's written best-sellers before, so … who's to say he won't some time again in the future. Les Savage!

Page 123~

"Why not put it in words, Rockwall? It's been in both our minds for a long time now. You can't deny it, can you?"

I really, really want the horse's name to be 'Rockwall.'


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Feb 122014
Paperback 741: Ace D-357 (PBO /PBO?)

Title: Lady in Peril / Wired for Scandal
Author: Lester Dent / Floyd Wallace
Cover artist: Uncredited / Uncredited

Yours for: $18


Best things about this cover:
  • Nice, ominous, off-kilter, killer-POV shot. 
  • She has incredibly good posture for someone about to be brutally murdered. Style points for erect bearing and dramatic hand placement.
  • This painting is like a giant metaphor for "No Means No"—What part of "Do Not Enter" do you not understand!?
  • Lester Dent helped create the pulp hero Doc Savage.


Best things about this other cover:
  • LOVE the design on this one. Strategic bursts of red against a semi-abstract green/white background. Nice variation on the floating head motif. Green rectangle with the tagline "Tune In And Die" brings balance and drama. 
  • Those guys are amazing dancers. Shake those hips, boys!
  • I kind of dress like the victim but I secretly aspire to dress like the killer.

Page 123~

"Can I look around?"
"Look, but keep your prints to yourself."
"I left some last night."

"If you know what I mean…"


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Jan 182014
Paperback 734: Bantam A1847 (1st ptg, 1959)

Title: Fire, Burn
Author: John Dickson Carr
Cover artist: Uncredited

Yours for: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • So, uh, title: are you giving instructions to the fire (which I doubt it needs), or … are you Frankenstein's monster remarking up on what fire does, or …?
  • "Oh, hi there, I was just fixing my hair and … my boobs? … oh yes, there they are. Whoops, how careless of me."
  • Giant pink bookmark.
  • Cape/cane frame.
  • God, 19th-century interior decorating was dreadful.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Least flattering author pic of all time.
  • Amateurish bats are oddly charming.
  • I hope that Lady Flora is either a rapper or has a sister named Lady Fauna.

Page 123~

If anyone had seen the pistol fall from Flora's muff, or seen him hide it under the hollow-based lamp, they might both stand in the dock on a charge of murder.


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