Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Additions to My Book Collection – June 2012

Once again, an overview of some of the recent additions to my paperback collection. As normal, most of the books were bought because of their cover art or their "sleaze" nature, though one or two were actually bought because they sounded like interesting reads. 
Kill As Directed
by "Ellery Queen"
1st printing, August, 1963 (#6205)
Cover artist unknown
Back cover text:
The perfect weapon — King Gresham smiled again. "You were a sucker. You were the patsy in the middle. The expendable man. And they couldn't wait."
"What?" Harry asked blinking. "What did you say?"
"Don't you know? You mean you still don't see it?"
"See what?"
"That you'd been framed by may wife and her lover? Ah, she didn't tell you about Tony? Oh, yes, Tony and Karen. I've known about it since the day it started. What I didn't know was that theirs was no ordinary liaison. I didn't know they were planning my murder and were only waiting for the right weapon to come along. You!"
We put the name "Ellery Queen" in quotation marks above because by the time this book was written, the cousins Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905 September 3, 1982) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905 April 3, 1971), were no longer writing their Queen paperbacks themselves. Kill As Directed is a "house book" in other words "Ellery Queen" is the brand name to sell the book, in which the famed detective doesn't even appear. The book was written by the mostly forgotten crime fiction author Henry Kane, a lawyer that gave up law for the career of writer and eventually went on to publish a good 60 books, none of which are still in print (though some are available as ebooks). Born in 1918, date of death unknown, he invented and wrote 30 books featuring Peter Chambers, a PI as forgotten as the author. (According to The Thrilling Detective website: "Peter Chambers is a swingin' kinda guy, who started life referring to himself as a 'Private Richard' and ended his career in a handful of soft porn novels. What a dick!") 
Kane also did an occasional television script, usually for PI and police series, and worked on the films Gunman in the Streets (1950, dir. Frank Tuttle — review at Noir of the Week) and the Ed McBain 87th precinct films Cop Hater (1958) and The Mugger (1958), both of which were directed by the just as forgotten director William Berke. The August, 1963, 1st printing of this book is available with two numbers on the cover — 6205 and 4704 — so who knows which one is the "true" 1st edition (4704 originally cost 45 cents and 6205, 35 cents, so book number might have nothing to do with it).
Carny Kill
by Robert Edmond Alter
ISBN: 0-88739-008-0
Black Lizard Books — No edition information
Original copyright 1966; publication date 1986
Cover Art by Kirwan
Opening lines of Carny Kill: "It was one of those tourist traps that have turned the coast of Florida into a glittering facade. They hide the naked sights of the hundreds of thousands of voracious cash registers behind the tinsel. That way the innocent tourists won't be stampeded into running for cover in fear for their wallets." 
Independent Crime opinions that "Carny Kill is one of those now-clichéd tales of Florida weirdoes written in 1966 before Florida weirdoes were the most overexposed group of weirdoes on the planet." 
As to be expected with a Black Lizard reprint, Carny Kill is a fast and sleazy hard-boiled ride well worth reading. Originally printed by Gold Medal and reprinted twice by Black Lizard, the book is relatively easy to find. The Hard-Nosed Sleuth offers an excellent synopsis: "In a nutshell, the anti-hero of the book is a wise-cracking grifter who takes a job [at a third-rate amusement park] only to find out the owner has married the grifter's ex-wife. Not even a day later [the owner] Cochrane turns up dead on a small inlet of the jungle river ride with enough planted evidence to point the finger at the grifter's ex. Soon to enter the plot is a crusty police detective who on one hand likes the grifter for the crime [sic] and then on the other seems to be partnering up with him to solve the case. Pretty soon the grifter is hooking up with one of the burlesque dancers from one of the shows. This comes with its own set of baggage as she is being courted by another guy from the grifter's past, one who is out to enact vengeance against the grafter." 
The cover art of the first Black Lizard reprint is by Kirwan — or, to be more exact, Michael Kirwan — an extremely productive producer of truly muculent and technically adept pornographic art, usually gay in nature but on occasion of the heterosexual variety. His website,, is well worth checking out if you're into erotic art (if not, avoid it). 
As for the forgotten author Robert Edmond Alter, he was born in San Francisco on 10 December 1925 and died of cancer 40 years later in Los Angeles on 26 May 1965, just before Carny Kill's first paperback printing in 1966; according to, he wrote a total of 18 novels but the number seems contested. His only science fiction novel, Path to Savagery, also appeared after his death, in 1969; it was filmed in 1979 as Ravagers, the last grindhouse feature of director Richard Compton before he moved to doing television series. (The mystery about the elusive Alter is that although his died in 1965, as The Mystery Files point out in their write-up on the author: "books and short stories by Alter continued appearing into 1970.")
The Sandancers
Jerome Jennings
All Star AS 123
Copyright 1967
Cover artist unknown.
As my scanner is busted, I downloaded the cover from that great website, the folks that brought you the eponymously titled fun book Strange Sisters. The great cover of The Sandancers is signed in the painting, but regrettably the signature is illegible; the author — or, at least, the pseudonym — "Jerome Jennings" seems to have been a one-shot, for no other publication can be found on-line graced with the name (and, in turn, no information about the name).
As it says on the cover, The Sandancers is "A novel of women who love women" but, as is common to lesbian literature of the time, the main babe finally finds happiness with man by the final lines of the book: "Ruth knew her passions were now honest feminine wants, the kind she always hoped for. As Nick rounded the car into the quiet cove she couldn't help wonder how soon she'd be filling out a maternity smock..." 
The inside cover has the following fine prose:
"Viola finished stripping the sweater and bra off the young girl's body. They were both naked to the navel. Bolts of raw lust captured Viola's senses; whimpering hoarsely, she cupped the pink-brown nipples and made love to them. Therese cries aloud with ecstasy. Her bare mounds quivered and trembled as they accepted Vi's hungry mouth and hands.
'Please don't tease me any more!'
'Come to me, baby.' Like a man, Viola continued the preliminaries with sincere words of praise and affection, petting the wonderful anatomy of this goddess. Clothes flew away briskly. The women wrestled, equally nude, Viola's olive-oil tan contrasting with Therese's fair, rippling gams that ended in a hub t the center of her very being..." 
The Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett
Pocket Books Edition (#196)
Cover art by Hoffman
First published 1932 (Alfred A. Knopf).
15th Printing, July 1945
This book was bought less to be an addition to my collection than to actually read: not only is the 15th printing a bit too high to have any real value, but the paperback is in miserable condition. Still, Dashiell Hammett is one of my favorite authors — Red Harvest is the book to read — and, oddly enough, though I've seen all films of the Thin Man franchise (1934-47), I've never read the book that started them, the last novel of the five that Hammett wrote. 
The cover illustration is by "Hoffman", which is how the prolific but oddly overlooked cover artist H. Lawrence "Larry" Hoffman usually signed his work. According to Royal Books, Hoffman began his career drawing for Thrilling Mystery Novels magazine and, according to Wikipedia, continued illustrating into the 1970s. Little information about him can be found on the web, even at The Hoffman Collection, the website of his documentary filmmaker son David Hoffman. And while the website gives neither the date of birth nor death of H. Lawrence Hoffman, it reveals that the artist lived with his wife and son in Levittown, Long Island, and taught at Cooper Union and Pratt Institute. A productive man, when Pocket Books was first established in 1942, Hoffman supplied the first 125 paperbacks. (Seeing that the first Pocket Book printing of The Thin Man was in 1942, it stands to reason the cover here might be one of those 125.) To quote The Hoffman Collection: "[David] Hoffman was surprised to discover that his father's work was collectible. Unfortunately, Larry Hoffman gave most of it away long before he died. Hoffman's mother [...] was acting as her husband's 'business agent' and promoter. She thought it best to price his pictures by size. The larger they were, the more she charged. A four-foot painting cost the buyer about $400. Trouble was, Larry loved to do miniatures."
The same year that The Thin Man appeared in hardcover (1934), Hollywood produced the now classic feature film of the book, directed by W.S. Van Dyke and starring William Powell (as Nick Charles) and Myrna Loy (as Nora Charles).
The Thin Man trailer:
by Saul Cooper
Hillman Books, New York (#133)
Printed 1959, published 1960
Cover artist: Everett Raymond Kinstler.
The illegible signature at the lower right of the cover is that of Everett Raymond Kinstler. Kinstler, born in 1926, began his career at the age of 16 doing comic books, paperback book covers, and book and magazine illustrations. An in-demand portrait artist, in 1999 he received the Copley Medal from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. 
As for the book itself, it is a novel and not a biography so, as The Tommy Gun Times says, "Here's a typically sensational, short on facts and long on imagination Hillman paperback featuring our old pal Johnnie. It can be had at various places around the web for as little as three bucks." Bookscans reveals that Hillman Books was a paperback firm founded by one Alex Hillman (1900—1967) in 1957; Hillman "sold his entire publishing empire to Macfadden in 1961 and retired to the life of a wealthy philanthropist."
Aside from Dillinger, Saul Cooper also wrote the novelization of Melvin Frank's western film The Jayhawkers for Hillman Books which, like the film, came out in 1959. Other film novelizations Cooper wrote include that for My Geisha (1962, dir. Jack Cardiff) at Dell in 1961, It Started in Naples (1960, dir. Melville Shavelson — trailer) at Gold Medal in 1960, and All in a Night's Work (1960, dir. Joseph Anthony — trailer) for Popular Library in 1961; some on-line sources list Michael Milner and Richard Benson as pseudonyms of Cooper, which would make him responsible for a whole slew of other novelizations, too. In general, however, there is little information about the author Saul Cooper to be found on the web, though Bookscans does claim him to have been born in 1934. 
Where Town Begins
by Richard R. Werry
Signet, 1st Printing, May 1952 (#938)
Cover artist: Raymond Pease
As far as we can tell, author Richard R. Werry was not a productive writer. He followed his 1947 book of poetry, Frozen Tears, and other Poems, with two mysteries, Where Town Begins (1952) and Hammer Me Home (1956), and then seems to have lain low until the 1980s, when he suddenly wrote two more books, Casket for a Lying Lady (1985) and A Delicately Personal Matter (1987), featuring "J.D. Mulroy", a female PI from Michigan described at Thrilling Detective as "a sort of easy-going, grown-up version of Nancy Drew". 
His bio on the back cover of Where Town Begins reveals that he was born 1916 in Pittsburgh, he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, served as a pharmacist's mate in the Navy and Marine Corps, and that at the time when he published his first novel (Where Town Begins) he was a creative writing teacher at Wayne University in Detroit. Online, we discovered his exact date of birth to be March 22, 1916, and that he died at the age of 71 on December 12, 1987 in Birmingham, Oakland County, MI (Michigan), 48009. The plot of this "explosive thriller of human passions" is given on the back cover as follows:
"If Jeff Cravath, a respected married, small-town business man had not felt guilty about his wartime affair with a Navy nurse, he would never have paid blackmail to the man who claimed to be her husband...
If Jeff had not feared a showdown with this sinister, hard-boiled stranger, he would never have met Norma, the voluptuous, animal-like waitress who worked in a roadhouse on the outskirts of town...
If Jeff had not encountered Norma, he would never have been catapulted into the explosive events that erupted into shocking violence and ripped the lid off small-town scandals."
The cover painting is by Raymond Pease. According to, Pease, who was born in 1908 in northern Vermont, died of Alzheimer's Disease around 1991 in Prescott, Arizona, where he was living with his wife Harriett. Due to his illness, he had quit painting by 1989. "Pease attended Grand Art School, the National Academy of Design, and received a B.F.A. degree from Yale University, School of the Fine Arts. [...] He continued his studies at the Ecoles des Beaux Artes and the Academie Julian, as well as with private teachers in Paris, France." 
Below, a reproduction the original painting for the cover of Where Town Begins: Oil on board, 18.5 x 15.75 in. Formerly of the Estate of Charles Martignette.

Love in a Dry Season
by Shelby Foote
Signet, 1st printing, November 1952 (#970)
Cover art by James Avati
"Explosive emotions in a southern town"
According to Wikipedia, William Faulkner once told a University of Virginia class that Foote "shows promise, if he'll just stop trying to write Faulkner, and will write some Shelby Foote." Love in a Dry Season, which is set around the time of the Great Depression, was Foote's third novel and one for which he was known to have a special affection. 
In the September 1st, 1951 issue of Kirkus Reviews, the reviewer had the following to say about Love in a Dry Season: "Dirty and dull, but shrewdly contrived and skillfully executed so that while you loathe practically every character in the book, you believe in them. A sordid triangle — Amy, a nymphomaniac and a rotter, her blind husband, Jeff, who enjoys contriving reasons for display of jealousy and suspicion, and Drew, a traveling salesman on the make, who deliberately woos and wins the spinster daughter of the town's leading cotton merchant, only to be thrown out by the father, who knows what he is after. He stays on to await his antagonist's death, but Fate tricks him. It is the invalid sister who dies, thus freeing the credulous Amanda for an elopement, only to have her lover throw her over unceremoniously, and stay on for his pursuit of more attractive game in the insatiable Amy. Jeff lays his net and catches his erring pair in the act but his blindness tricks his aim, and he wounds but does not kill. Drew goes on to fresh pastures; Amanda gets queerer; Jeff and Amy stay linked in matrimony and hate. If this be Southern "love", make the most of it. I found it left a bad taste in my mouth."
Foote went on to write a total of six novels, a variety of non-fiction books and to gain a certain level of celebrity as a commentator on documentary films such as PBS's The Civil War (1990). Born November 17, 1916, in Greenville, Mississippi, he died in Memphis, Tenn., on June 27, 2005, at the age of 88.
The cover art is by the great James Avati (December 14, 1912, Bloomfield, NJ – February 27, 2005, Petaluma, CA); Grant Books, the publisher of The Paperback Art of James Avati, says that he "is regarded as the pre-eminent painter of paperback covers in the second half of the 20th century [and that] he was known in the business as the 'King of the Paperbacks'." On our own bookshelves, we have paperbacks by Faulkner, Caldwell and Moravia that display his cover artwork. 
Like so many vintage cover artists previously ignored, Avati's work now fetches prices he could never have dreamed of while alive and working. The father of nine children (between two marriages), he received a degree in architecture in Princeton University in 1935 and, after the war, began painting during his free time while working as a display window designer on 5th Avenue in NYC. In 1948, Avati's work caught the eye of Kurt Enoch, the co-founder of New American Library; Signet belonged to their imprint, and Avati's style proved both popular and influential. He stopped painting towards the end of his life due to his declining eyesight.
James Avati
on creating his cover for Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road:

James Avation creating his cover for James T. Farrell's No Star Is Lost:
Cherry Delight #21 – Mexican Standoff
by Glen Chase
Leisure Books, 1st printing, 1975 (#260ZK)
Cherry Delight — "The Sexecutioner", as she was called on the cover of the first nine books of the pulp series — lasted a total of 24 novels between 1972 and 75 and featured the eponymously named character, the best agent at the secret anti-mob organization N.Y.M.P.H.O. (New York Mafia Prosecution and Harassment Organization), who, as the blogsite Aggressors puts it, is "as good with a bazooka as she is with her bazoombas."
After the initial 24 novels, following a pause of two years she returned for another five novels (all in 1977) as the "All New Cherry Delight". This new series, going by the two books presented at the groovy blog Groovy Age of Horror, had Cherry fighting the supernatural instead of the mob. But in the guise of the "Old" Cherry, she is very much typical of the "sexpionage" subgenre once so popular (some nice covers of prime examples can be found here at the blog Bish's Beat).
"Glen Chase" was the house name at Leisure Books the Cherry Delight novels, a name shared by the prolific writer Gardner F Fox (May 20, 1911 – December 24, 1986) and Rochelle Larkin (possibly "Rochelle Larking") and Leonard Levinson; who knows which of the three wrote this installment — or who the model is on the cover. Gardner F Fox, whose other pen names included Jefferson Cooper, Bart Sommers, Simon Majors, Paul Dean, Ray Gardner and Lynna Cooper, is a familiar name to anyone who grew up during the Silver and Bronze Ages of Comics — according to Wikipedia, "Comic-book historians estimate that he wrote over 4,000 comics stories." 
The blurb on the back cover says: 
"The supply of heroin from Turkey had been cut down, but south of the Mexican border the Mafia was growing opium in the mountains. The Mob's local and imported gunmen kept the villagers in line, and anybody who talked to the federales died a horrible death. Cherry's assignment was to literally smoke them out. And that's what she did – burning up millions of dollars in H – but before she torched the poppy fields she had one hell of a time, because Cherry enjoys her work, in or out of bed."  
"Yellow Kid" Weil – Con Man
As told to W. T. Brannon
Pyramid Books, 1957 (#G280)
"An Authorized Abridgment" of the hardcover originally published in 1948 by Ziff-Davis Publishing. Pyramid Books, which founded in 1949 (and eventually became Jove Books before finally disappearing into Penguin in 1979), was always good for a fun publication (see: Men Behind Bars or A Girl Called Judith Strick). This "biography" here, long out of print, was reprinted (in its unabridged form) by AK Press in 2010, but it is also available for free at the Internet Archives
William T. Brannon, a forgotten true crime author — The Lady Killers [1951] seems to have been his only other book of note, though he did get nominated in 1951 for an Edgar Award "for general excellence in fact crime writing"  was born 3 March 1906 in Meridian, Mississippi; we were unable to locate a date of death, so he might still be out there. Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil, however, is not: Born 1 July 1875, he died a centurion on 26 February 1976. The photo of the man seen here comes from the Find A Grave website which, oddly enough, couldn't find his grave. (Weil, by the way, is also found in David W. Maurer's book The Big Con: The Story of Confidence Men, which was the inspirational source for George Roy Hill's classic movie, The Sting [1973].) 
The reviewer of the AK Press reprint at BoingBoing says "This is one of the most entertaining memoirs I've ever read," explaining "Weil's autobiography is really more of a memoir — it doesn't provide much of a coherent narrative of the man and his life. Rather, it is a series of unconnected but hugely entertaining anecdotes about the various scams he ran and the venal fools he took for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. Weil is a virtuoso exploiter of human foibles, and each story serves as a miniature morality play in which someone who thinks he's getting something for nothing (usually at some innocent's expense) instead loses everything as payback for his venality."
The back cover of the Pyramid edition includes the following blurbs:
Erle Stanley Gardner "A must for every sucker in the United States and required reading for everyone who wants to keep from being a sucker."
Craig Rice "'Yellow Kid' Weil is a fascinating book. It definitely proves that facts are stranger than fiction. Wow! What a book!"
Brett Halliday "It is extremely difficult to put the book down once you have started it."
The first page blurb says:
"A fabulous rascal In his long and checkered career as a confidence man, "Yellow Kid" Weil mulcted the public of over $8,000,000 and established a reputation for connivery that has never been equaled.
A dapper rogue who managed somehow to stay one step ahead of the police, "Yellow Kid" used phoney oil deals, willing women, fixed races and countless other dodges to fleece a gullible public.
Now in his own words comes the unvarnished truth about his nefarious and knavish schemes — the famous "Spanish prisoner" fraud, the case of the doctored thoroughbred, and a hundred other intriguing swindles that made him an unparalleled menace to the pocketbook of suckers."
Trailer to The Sting (1973):
A Dandy in Aspic 
by Derek Marlowe
Dell, 1st Dell Printing, Aug 1967 (#1665)
Cover by Livoti
Derek [William Mario] Marlowe, who was born 21 May 1938 in Perivale, England, and died of leukemia on 14 November 1996, in Los Angeles, California, was an English playwright, screenwriter and novelist. A Dandy in Aspic was his first novel, and it was promptly made into a film. As the cover says: "A spellbinder about a spy who was ordered to assassinate himself."
The first page blurb goes in a bit more detail: "The Dandy — He was a double agent working both sides of the iron curtain, turning dangerous double-crosses into deadly triple plays, trying to avoid the one dual role from which there was no escape–that of both the murderer and victim"
The film version, for which Marlowe also supplied the screenplay, starred Laurence Harvey and Mia Farrow and was directed by Anthony Mann. Or at least Mann directed most of it:  he died during the filming and Harvey took over the directional chores.
The cover art of this edition was supplied by Victor ("Vic") Livoti, a once highly active cover and film poster artist who, like so many, seems relegated to obscurity. Our search of the web turned up little, but Obits for Life did supply the following: "Victor Livoti, of Norwalk, passed away on March 23, 2009, after a long illness. Born in New York City on April 1, 1923, he was the son of the late Francis A. and Mary Marinelli Livoti.
Mr. Livoti served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He studied at the National Academy and the Art Students League in New York City. He worked for many years as an illustrator and was an avid golfer.
Victor is survived by his wife of 30 years, Maria Castagnetti Livoti; and their daughter, Victoria Livoti of Norwalk. He is also survived by two children from a previous marriage; a daughter, Amanda E. Livoti of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and a son Victor M. Livoti of Norwalk; as well as three grandchildren." 
As the family requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Lung Association, one can surmise from what he died.
Credit sequence to A Dandy in Aspic:


Frank said...

Years ago an old time paperback collecter told me that Gardner F. Fox wrote all 24 titles in the first 'Cherry Delight' series. Rochelle Larkin, author of an early Beatles bio, and Leonard Levison, author of cook books, wrote the 5 titles in the new 1977 series. Hope this helps.

davidhoffmanca said...

I wonder if you could help me. I am David Hoffman, the son of illustrator H. Lawrence Hoffman who you refer to in connection with your paperback book collectible, The Thin Man. I have one original oil painting my dad did for the 1st edition of Rebecca. My sister and I would like to sell it but we don't know anything about who collects paperback book art originals. Can you help advise us as to where to go?
Thank you
David Hoffman–

Jeffrey Perren said...

Thanks for the helpful info. Been trying to find the correct Dell edition number for this to ensure the right purchase. And the bio info on Livoti was interesting, too.

Jeff Perren

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