Vintage Pulp Dec 29 2023
THE HOLIDAYS ARE MURDER
Some people never even make it to the first day of Christmas.


We thought about sharing this cover earlier, but decided to be literal with the title and reveal nothing until after Christmas. Do Not Murder Before Christmas was written by Jack Iams and published in 1949 in hardback by William Morrow & Co., then by Dell as a paperback a bit later the same year. It's a murder mystery in the Agatha Christie vein about an elderly smalltown toymaker whose secret knowledge of his community gets him killed when someone decides to suppress evidence of a crime.

While these sorts of whodunnits aren't hard-boiled or particularly action packed, they're often superior within the crime genre because of their humanized relationships and relatable women. This one is no exception, as a crucial aspect of the puzzle revolves around Jane Hewes, local beauty who's desired by both the scion of a wealthy family that has exploited the town for generations, and by the everyman newspaper editor who has spent years writing unflattering articles about that family. Their rivalry adds plenty to the story. They even have a fistfight.

This is the second Iams mystery we've read, along with Girl Meets Body, and it's clear that he can write as well as construct. The central plot contrivance—that every child who ever came to the toymaker's shop signed a visitor's book, and this somehow has the power to expose a killer—is something so leftfield we had to marvel. The tale's winning protagonist and involving love story make the final result a total winner. If you find an Iams novel anywhere, snag it.
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Vintage Pulp Mar 23 2020
DYING TO SEE HER
Wow, he sees me naked and drops dead. I guess all those guys were right—I do have a killer body.


Above you see a Victor Kalin cover for Girl Meets Body, written by Jack Iams for Dell Publications, and published in 1947. In the story a woman having a nude walkabout on a secluded New Jersey beach encounters a corpse. The discovery unleashes problems with police, mobsters, tabloids, and particularly her husband, who she married in England during World War II, before being kept away from him by the conflict for two years. The husband soon suspects this wife he barely knows and has spent only a few weeks with total has a secret connection to the murdered man.
 
It sounds sinister, but Iams is not trying to be too serious with this book. Major characters are named Whittlebait, Barrelforth, and Squareless, if that gives you an indication of the feel. The writing style is a bit Thin Man, with numerous quips and asides, and the spouses, named Sybil and Tim, are cast as dueling lovebirds. Throughout the arguments there's never a doubt they'll work it out. They also work out the mystery, unconvincingly, but overall, we have to say the book was enjoyable. We were betting Sybil and Tim would be recurring characters, but it doesn't seem like that happened. Girl Meets Body is the first and last of them.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 11 2014
THE TOWERS THAT BE
Hey everybody—get an Eiffel of these!

If you’ve been visiting the site for a while, you perhaps remember the cover we shared for H.R. Lenormand’s Renée, which shows a lonely woman staring out of her room at the majestic—and in that context clearly metaphorical—Eiffel Tower. Since then we’ve seen the tower pop up on many covers, including Passion in Paris by Harrison Stone, above, so today we’ve compiled a collection. Most of these examples view the tower as just an innocent civic landmark, but take it from us—once the idea that it stands for something else gets into your head you really can’t get it out. Interestingly, while the tower appears on many U.S. book fronts, we found it on only two of the hundreds of French covers we have. Perhaps they consider it too banal. Twenty-one scans below.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
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