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0728 Soft Touch

April 8, 2021

0728 Soft Touch uk 2120
  • Title: Soft Touch
  • Language: English
  • Country: UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 2014
  • Publisher: Orion
  • Collection: The Murder Room
  • ISBN-13:  9781471911507
  • Cover Artist: none

The rain dripped from the jungle canopy overhead. One drop every five seconds struck his right cheek in a mild form of water torture but it was too much trouble to move his head the two inches required make it stop, or at least land somewhere else and spare him the torment of the seemingly endless thwop thwop thwop. Each drop hit his left cheekbone and splattered into pieces that went every which-a-way but most annoyingly into his eyelashes, which required him to blink them away or suffer the ignominy of blurred vision.

It wasn’t really that it was too much trouble; it was too much pain. He tried to set his hand on the ground to shift himself over a mite but the pain in his belly shot through him like a hot electric fire and he gave up before he even really started. He sighed and felt the hole again where the bullet had entered. The blood was coming out way too fast and it didn’t seem to matter what he tried; it just didn’t want to stop.

If Chipper and the sergeant didn’t get back soon, he was in for a heap of trouble. Chipper had promised him they would be back for him but there was that gunfire not long after they left and he had a bad feeling that Chipper wasn’t coming back here or anywhere. Chipper and Sarge had problems of their own.

The rain continued and the runoff collected under the seat of his pants. Just when you think things couldn’t get worse. He glanced at his pistol lying on the ground ten feet away but if he couldn’t even manage to change his position, there was no chance in hell that he could crawl all the way over there and finish this whole thing off.

He felt the bullet hole again and looked upwards just as another drop his cheek.

What does this have to do with Soft Touch? Exactly as much as this cover does.

0727 The Scarlet Ruse

April 5, 2021

0727 Scarlet Ruse, The 1871
  • Title: The Scarlet Ruse
  • Language: English
  • Country: USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1980
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • Collection: Gold Medal
  • Collection #: 1-3952-2
  • ISBN-10: 0449139522
  • Cover Price: $2.25
  • Cover Artist: Robert McGinnis
  • Author of: The Green Ripper

Image courtesy of Freiler Thompson

We have seen this cover before, and a darned good thing too, since this 19th printing has been rode hard, put away wet, and then beaten with a stick before being dropped off a bridge and run over by a Mack truck. Still, the image is good enough to see the most atrocious rendering of the Busted Flush that I am aware of (50 foot long? barge type? where is the shower stall going to fit?).

We also see the obligatory red floppy hat which played only a minor part in the plot but is omnipresent wherever a Scarlet Ruse may roam, from the mountains, to the prairie, to the oceans white with foam.

I’d like to know how Travis expects to row with a gun in his hand.

Update (04/07/2021): Thanks to Freiler for a much sharper image. I’m not sure about that sticker, though. And who knew that airports have used bookstores?

0726 Pembe çakal

April 4, 2021

0726 unknown Turkey 1409
  • Title: Pembe çakal
  • English Title: Pink Coyote
  • Canon: unknown
  • Language: Turkish
  • Country: Turkey
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1976
  • Publisher: Kervan
  • Cover Artist: unknown

Three foreign editions in a row and two in a row that can’t seem to get MacDonald’s name right. This Turkish cover is officially an unknown book but given the translated title and the … um … animal? … I’ll wager half a bottle of Plymouth gin that this is The Quick Red Fox.

Seriously, what is that creature? It has the face of a cat but the mouth is some vicious little rodent, maybe a weasel. The paws look like a dog and the squat posture reminds me of a reptile. There are wild coyotes that live in my area and not one of them looks anything like this one, pink or otherwise.


0725 Les Énergumènes

April 3, 2021

End of the Night, The - France 540
  • Title: Les Énergumènes
  • English Title: The Fanatics
  • Canon: The End of the Night
  • Language: French
  • Country: France
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1969
  • Publisher: Gallimard
  • Collection: Poche Noire
  • Collection #: 99
  • Cover Artist: unknown
  • Translator: J. Hérisson

I’m always intrigued by how people from other countries view Americans. The most common thing you see on foreign MacDonald covers is big cars and palm trees and guns, although come to think of it, guns appear on lots of US covers as well. Oh, and gangsters.

Now some JDM stories deserve a gangster or two on the cover. April Evil comes to mind. And so does Murder in the Wind. The Empty Trap. The Only Girl in the Game deserves a few but I haven’t found any. The End of the Night doesn’t really have any gangsters in it but it does have a bunch of really tough characters so I guess this cover isn’t unreasonable.

But this “gangster” is sooo French-looking. Maybe it’s the flat cap. Or the cigar hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Or the tommy gun that I don’t remember being in the story (although I haven’t read it in years since I regard it as the very worst entry in the MacDonald pantheon).

Today’s cover is another example of that curious sub-genre of JDM books (all foreign) that misspell his name, in this case, “Mac Donald”.

0724 Savnet – antatt død

March 30, 2021

0724 Empty Copper Sea, The norway 2148
  • Title: Savnet – antatt død
  • English Title: Missing: Presumed Dead
  • Canon: The Empty Copper Sea
  • Language: Norwegian
  • Country: Norway
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 2009
  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm
  • ISBN-13: 9788202301248
  • Cover Artist: unknown
  • Translator: Øystein Svarød

I think it’s in Nothing Can Go Wrong where John D. MacDonald talks about taking a cruise to Norway. During a port call, he wandered through Narvik or Tromsø or Trondheim or somewhere and bought some of his own books that had been translated into Norwegian. Presumably this was not one of them since it was printed twenty years after he died. A pity too, because if he had, there would be a copy in the JDM collection at the University of Florida and I would have a superb quality scan to show you. But he didn’t, and there isn’t, and I don’t.

Instead, all I have is this thumbnail from the Nasjonalbiblioteket. They must have a better scan — they have to! — but they refuse to respond to my requests. I probably shouldn’t have included a link to this blog. After the whole business with the Federal Truth in Blogging Agency, you would think that I would have learned my lesson. Obviously not.

0723 Lästige Zeugen

March 28, 2021

0723 Price Of Murder, The - Germany 997
  • Title: Lästige Zeugen
  • English Title: Annoying Witnesses
  • Canon: The Price of Murder
  • Language: German
  • Country: West Germany
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1980
  • Publisher: Heyne
  • Collection: Blaue Krimis
  • Collection #: 1353
  • ISBN-10: 3453105079
  • ISBN-13: 9783453105072
  • Cover Artist: unknown

Oh, I like this one! Yes, it’s a photo cover and therefore unfit for consumption by anyone with a smattering of good taste, but it is simple, powerful, and beautifully composed.

Shivers are running up and down my back from the screech that must be coming from those fingernails scraping down that wooden wall. Her fingers are placed so it looks like she scratched two deep grooves in the wood. It’s a perfect Fear Hand.™

The wall is part of some sort of old shed. I like the cracks and the peeling paint. The putrid green paint contrasts nicely with the blue cover.

If that is an engagement ring, it’s on the wrong hand.

0722 A Bullet for Cinderella

March 27, 2021

0722 Bullet for Cinderella, A 204
  • Title: A Bullet for Cinderella
  • Language: English
  • Country: USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1982/83
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • Collection: Gold Medal
  • Collection #: 1-4101-6
  • Cover Price: $2.25
  • Cover Artist: Robert McGinnis
  • Author of: Free Fall in Crimson

This cover used for the 10th and 11th Fawcett printings  depicts the climax that takes place on the little island and includes typical McGinnis Montage elements like huge heads and a cloudy sunset. What intrigues me is how the tiny figure on the hilltop has the same pose as McGinnis’ woman on this cover.

The image is not particularly high resolution — you can hardly read the collection number — but it is suspiciously clean. Methinks somebody — and he knows who he is — has applied his photoshoppery skills in a decidedly unethical way. I guess it’s just a sign of the general decline of today’s society into petty larceny and drunken debauchery.

0721 夜の終り

March 26, 2021

0721 End of the NIght, The japan 2186
  • Title: 夜の終り
  • English Title: The End of the Night
  • Canon: The End of the Night
  • Language: Japanese
  • Country: Japan
  • Format: unknown
  • Year: unknown
  • Publisher: Sogen Suiri Bunko
  • Cover Artist: unknown

Your guess is as good as mine.

Uh, moon. Night. End of the night. Ok, I get it, although that’s no moon ever seen from Earth. The Sun and the Moon are the same size as seen from Earth. Maybe the artist thought the action takes place on Jupiter. That might work.

Uh, stars. Night. End of the night. Ok, I get it. I mean, they’re stylized but the Japanese go for metaphors, so that might work.

Uh, trees. I got nothing

0720 April Evil

March 25, 2021

0720 April Evil 79
  • Title: April Evil
  • Language: English
  • Country: USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1970
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • Collection: Gold Medal
  • Collection #: T2224
  • Cover Price: $0.75
  • Cover Artist: Bill Johnson

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m always willing to admit when I’m wr … not as right as I usually am. For years I didn’t think much of this cover. There was no action. It was too dark. There was no detail. It wasn’t until Steve Scott remarked how the cover depicts a scene that doesn’t appear in the story (a pet peeve of mine) that I really looked at it.

Despite Steve’s well-deserved complaint, the cover does have a certain tension to it. It always reminds me of Nick’s line in The Big Chill when he’s asked what a TV show is about and he says, “I think the man in the hat did something terrible.” Of course, everybody in the shot is wearing a hat.

Compare the woman tied to the chair with this One Monday We Killed Them All cover. Both covers are by Bill Johnson and both woman look similar  and are dressed similarly. Today’s subject is showing more skin; her blouse is sleeveless and her blue pencil skirt is shorter and her pose is … shall we say … somewhat less ladylike, but both of them squirm in the same fascinating Bill Johnson way.

So anyway, I’m willing to admit that I was wr … not as high on the rightness spectrum as one might imagine. I like this cover.

0719 Das Mädchen, die goldene Uhr und der ganze Rest

March 23, 2021

0719 Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything, The - german 663
  • Title: Das Mädchen, die goldene Uhr und der ganze Rest
  • English Title: The Girl, the Gold Watch and All the Rest
  • Canon: The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything
  • Language: German
  • Country: Germany
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1993
  • Publisher: Heyne
  • Collection: Heyne-Bücher
  • Collection #: 5023
  • ISBN-10: 3453066049
  • ISBN-13: 9783453066045
  • Cover Artist: unknown

One shouldn’t be surprised that this cover contains a girl.¹ After all, out of 33² known covers for this book worldwide, only four contain no girl and only four contain no gold watch. The moonscape is a bit out of place but the story is science fiction, isn’t it?³

¹ The legal staff here at John D MacDonald Cover Blogs Company has insisted that the Civil Rights Act as amended requires me to state that the use of the term “girl” is to be understood to include “woman”, “babe”, “dame”, and any other reference to a female human being.

² The legal staff here at John D MacDonald Cover Blogs Company has insisted that I clarify that there are 34 known covers but one is more of an unknown known. I know it’s out there but I don’t know what might be on it.

³ The legal staff here at JoMacCoBloCo has insisted that I clarify that it might be science fiction, depending on one’s definition. JDM makes a vague hand-waving attempt to describe the process by which the watch stops time⁴, which might qualify the story as science fiction but the gist of the story is definitely fantasy.

⁴ The legal staff here at JoMacCoBloCo has insisted that I clarify that time does not actually stop in the story but merely slows down so much that Kirby doesn’t even realize it until there is a thick portion of the book in the reader’s left hand.⁵

⁵ The legal staff here at JoMacCoBloCo has insisted that I clarify that thanks to the most unfortunate rise of e-books, it is possible that the reader might have no pages at all in their left hand.⁶

⁶ The legal staff here at JoMacCoBloCo has insisted that I remove all references to hands, whether right or left, to avoid conflict with the relevant portions of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.