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Book Covers

My family has a place up on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire that has, among other things, hundreds of paperback mysteries, thrillers, and the like that have been accumulated over the decades. One of the great things about a collection like this is that you can see how the trends in cover design have changed over the years. I took picture of a few of these and will present them over the next couple of blog posts along with penetrating commentary and insight.

The Scorpion Signal
I have not read this book. Adam Hall writes thrillers about a spy named Quiller and I like the ones that I have read. This cover screams 1982 to me for some reason. It is a scorpion with Union Jack skin and what might not be easy to make out is that the venom dripping from its tail contains a Soviet sickle and hammer. Britain is the scorpion and the USSR is the poison. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that, but I’m sure that actually reading the book would make it perfectly clear.

Dunn’s Conundrum

This is another book that I haven’t read, but I’ve always been intrigued by two things: is the writer the same guy who invented Spiderman; and what would Robert Ludlum be like with a sense of humor? Also, why is somebody trying to kill Richard Chamberlain?



A Coffin for Dimitrios
This is a great book, but it is hard for me to envision what the hell the designer for this book – “a superb novel of international intrigue” – was thinking when he put this weird picture of a pointy-headed man with no neck and tiny feet on the cover. I could go on, but the picture kind of speaks for itself.

Chinaman’s Chance

This is another great book with a great seventies cover – a collage of images: the pensive, handsome hero, the Asian sidekick, the naked babe on the bed, the sinister-for-some-reason guy with a lot of dogs, and the posh beach house. Let me leave you with the first paragraph from the book: “The pretender to the Emperor’s Throne was a fat thirty-seven-year-old Chinaman called Artie Wu who always jogged along Malibu Beach right after dawn even in summer, when dawn came round as early as 4:42. It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that he tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds. It was the sixteenth of June, a Thursday.”

You know you want to read on…

Originally posted on July 15, 2010

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