Aaaaand the connection between Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald is... their surname. Yeah, OK, it's a bit lame, but there is more to it than that. First, though, there's this:
The 1967 UK Pan paperback (first thus) of John D. MacDonald's The Only Girl in the Game, originally published in the States by Gold Medal in 1960 and in the UK (in a now-very valuable hardback, natch) by Robert Hale in 1962. As with the book featured in the previous post, I bought this at the recent London Pulp and Paperback Fair. I've never read any MacDonald, but the cover caught my eye, and the Las Vegas setting intrigued me, and it was cheap, and I knew I wanted to read something of MacDonald's at some point, but didn't want to get sucked into another series – in MacDonald's case the Travis McGee novels. So I grabbed this.
And as it turns out, it looks as if it's going to be a splendid introduction to MacDonald's writing. The excellent blog Mystery File has a terrific post on MacDonald, focusing on, as luck would have it, The Only Girl in the Game. Follow that link and give it a read, and I'll meet you back here when you're done.
Finished? Good, wasn't it? Plus, it saves you the horror of having to read one of my dreadful sight-unseen plot summaries, not to mention me the chore of having to write one. Anyway, back to that Macdonald / MacDonald connection. Aside from the similar surnames – Ross Macdonald's being invented, of course – the two Macs were also contemporaries. And both being creators of a series of first-person novels starring a private investigator – Macdonald's Lew Archer and MacDonald's aforementioned Travis McGee – you'd think they might have had much in common, maybe even have been friends, or at least associates. Not so. A 1976 Roger Ebert interview with John D. MacDonald recently surfaced online, and towards the end of that, Ebert raises the question of the similarity between the two writers' names. MacDonald points out that Ross Macdonald's then-latest book, The Blue Hammer, sported the kind of title that John D. might've picked for one of his own famously colour-themed Travis McGee titles. He then goes on to say:
"I wrote him... I said, 'no doubt this is innocence on your part, but people are going to think it's meretricious.' He didn't reply. I must confess I feel a little irritated by that."
Not a lot of love lost there, then. As for the cover of this Pan edition of The Only Girl in the Game, I can't tell you for sure who was responsible for that snazzy photo-montage, but it's possible David Larkin had a hand in it, as I think by this point he'd taken over as Pan's art director, moving the imprint's covers in a more photographic direction. As ever, if you want to know more about Pan Books, head over to the Pan Paperback Collectors Website, where you'll find a near-complete Pan bibliography and accompanying covers.