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0323 De danszaal van het heelal

July 18, 2012
  • Title: De danszaal van het heelal
  • English Title: The Ballroom of the Universe
  • Canon: Ballroom of the Skies
  • Language: Dutch
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1973
  • Publisher: Bruna
  • Collection: Zwarte Beertjes
  • Collection #: 29
  • ISBN-10: 902299029X
  • ISBN-13: 9789022990292
  • Cover Artist: Unknown

I’m not one to tell people what they should and should not eat, drink, inhale, inject or ingest. Normally. However, I’m willing to make an exception for the unknown artist here. Whatever you’re doing, stop it!

I have no problem if you want to depict a seagull with a thyroid problem. And Escher-inspired boxes are old hat. Knock yourself out. But that woman just freaks me out. She’s waaaay too young to appear naked on a cover. Her expression suggests she has partaken of the same illegal (even in Amsterdam) substance you have. Her hair is in the shape of a bird. Her hands are claws. And her breasts scare the living daylights out of me.

Bruna’s Zwarte Beertjes, or Black Bear, imprint has printed literally thousands of books, all with that silly bear icon. Is it just me, or does it look more like a trunkless elephant?



0322 Five Complete Travis McGee Novels

July 16, 2012
  • Title: Five Complete Travis McGee Novels
  • Canon: Omnibus
  • Language: English
  • Country: USA
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Year: 1991
  • Publisher: Avenel
  • ISBN-10: 0517476711
  • ISBN-13: 9780517476710
  • Cover Artist: Don Brautigam

We don’t see many omnibuses (omnibi?) around here, and if this puppy is typical of the breed, I understand why people don’t like them. It contains Lemon, Copper, Crimson, Green, and Tan, which aren’t even in order, and uses Don Brautigam’s iconic Green cover artwork juxtaposed with somebody’s vague background picture of clouds or parameciums (paramecia? damn Latin plurals) to stand in for all five of the stories. Needless to say, I’m not impressed.

I don’t own this copy, so I can’t be sure who published it. I have seen multiple anonymous internet sources claim that it was Random House’s Value Publishing imprint, while others make a claim for Avenel, while still others say it comes from Wings. I hope somebody can take a peek at the title page and set me straight.

Update (10/22/2012): Mystery solved. Although I haven’t seen the title page, the University of Florida library catalog flatly states that the publisher is “Avenel Books (distributed by Crown Publishers)”. The ISBN I used to show here (0517059487) belongs to an identical book with an identical title (but a different cover) published by Random House Value Publishing, hence the confusion. We’ll see that one Someday.

Milk Carton

Have you seen me? I am a US hardcover omnibus, titled The Deep Blue Good-By & Nightmare in Pink & The Dreadful Lemon Sky), printed in 1976 by Walter J Black under their Detective Book Club imprint.

0321 Moord in de storm

July 12, 2012
  • Title: Moord in de storm
  • English Title: Murder in the Storm
  • Canon: Murder in the Wind
  • Language: Dutch
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1976
  • Publisher: Bruna
  • Collection: Zwarte beertjes
  • ISBN-10: 902297569X
  • ISBN-13: 9789022975695
  • Cover Artist: Unknown

A long time ago, I Milk Carton’ed this book. I haven’t heard Word One about it in all that time, but yesterday while I was trolling through a Dutch classified advertising website (oh don’t pretend that’s not what you do at work!), what should pop up but this fella! It’s a great feeling when you track down the tiger to his lair, facing his snarling countenance when he realizes that he is trapped, fear-sweat running down the small of your back as you wonder if the safety is on or off, will a .22 caliber pierce the thick skull, or will he rake you with his gigantic claws as the hunted becomes hunter and you understand you are taking your last few breaths as the life ebbs away.

BLAM! Head’s on the wall. Next!


0320 Death Trap

July 11, 2012
  • Title: Death Trap
  • Language: English
  • Country: UK
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Year: 1958
  • Publisher: Robert Hale
  • Cover Price: 10/6
  • Cover Artist: Unknown

I spend a lot of time whining complaining about various covers, so it’s only fair to admit when I really like one. Not just this cover, in fact, but the whole Robert Hale series of hardcovers when they used this retro feel artwork. It’s not great art, it’s not particularly realistic, the colors are too garish, and the background detail is minimal, but they bring that old-fashioned paperback cover feel to a hardcover dust jacket.

It doesn’t take a cigarette to tell you that this girl is not one you would bring home to meet Mother. Well, not unless Mother sells low quality cocaine in the seedier alleys of a tough, working class town, not that I’m implying anything, Mom. The slouched posture, heavy makeup, sardonic smile, and low cut tank top do that just fine, thank you very much.

The artist’s signature is right there in the bottom right, but I can’t read it. What a shame.


0319 Deadly Welcome

July 10, 2012
  • Title: Deadly Welcome
  • Language: English
  • Country: UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1966
  • Publisher: Pan
  • Collection #: X582
  • Cover Artist: Unknown

I like the handcuff covers. Sure, the artwork is too small, but that complaint removes 90% of paperback covers from consideration, and besides, I like a good theme. What is particularly noteworthy about this one is that the girl actually looks like … gasp … a girl, not a model or some impossibly long-limbed waif.

Despite hours of aimless surfing diligent research, I can’t tell you much about Pan’s corporate history. It was bought out by Macmillan in 1987, but before that it was owned by either a consortium (including MacMillan) or by other publishers. So anything after 1987 should be listed here as “Publisher: Macmillan, Imprint: Pan” but I’m not sure how to handle earlier publications like this one.


0318 Gold wirft blutige Schatten

July 7, 2012
  • Title: Gold wirft blutige Schatten
  • English Title: Gold Casts a Bloody Shadow
  • Canon: A Deadly Shade of Gold
  • Language: German
  • Country: Germany
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: 1966
  • Publisher: Heyne
  • Collection: Heyne-Bücher
  • Collection #: 1199
  • Cover Artist: Ron Lesser, John McDermott


This German edition of Gold is really just a re-arrangement of the original Gold Medal cover, albeit this is a more pleasing composition. It’s unusual for a foreign edition in that it not only uses Ron Lesser’s original artwork, but also John McDermott’s iconic Travis McGee image.

I find it interesting that the title is similar but slightly different than the English title. I wonder if the original title did not translate well into German. Actually, Schatten can be translated as either “shade” or “shadow”, but I suspect that it is “shade” in the sense of “in a shadow” rather than the shade of a color. Perhaps a native German speaker could give his or her opinion.


0317 La Bambola

July 5, 2012
  • Title: La Bambola
  • English Title: The Doll
  • Canon: short story
  • Language: Italian
  • Country: Italy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Year: Unknown
  • Publisher: Annabella
  • Collection: Romanzi dell’estate
  • Collection #: 6 or 32
  • Cover Price: None
  • Cover Artist: Giove Toppi

I recently acquired this most unusual John D MacDonald book. Well, maybe “book” isn’t the right word. First off, it measures about 6″ x 8″ in a horizontal format. Secondly, it is printed entirely on newsprint, even the cover, and has more of the feel of an old comic book. Tertiarilly(!), it is not technically by John D MacDonald, but by John D McDonald, in yet another foreign edition misspelling. And d), it features a quasi-wraparound cover (the back cover is below) and two excellent full-page internal illustrations by Giove Toppi.

The oddities continue. There is no cover price anywhere, even though other paperback books from Italy carry cover prices. There is no copyright information so I can’t determine the publishing date. The title page states that it is a romanzi, or novel, but it is no JDM novel that I know, and it is probably better described as a novella or long short story as it runs about 10,000 words. The cover suggests that the collection ID is 6, but the title page gives it as 32. Perhaps it’s a Dutch thing.

I was stumped. What story is it? Cue the cavalry bugle; this is when Steve Scott rides to the rescue. Thanks, Steve! In short order, he defined it as JDM’s “The Doll”, which was originally printed in Cosmopolitan magazine in November 1952, and even provide a cover scan. It was also printed in a stand-alone Swedish version, which you can see here. He mentions that the story bears a resemblance to a storyline in April Evil; could this story have prompted that novel? I can’t wait to read it, but I’ll have to wait until I find it in English.