With that tedious custom domain name change update out the way, let's pick up the threads of the last-post-but-one, on the 1973 Gold Lion hardback edition of Richard Stark's Parker novel The Sour Lemon Score, which, you might recall, I acquired from book dealer to the stars (ahem) Jamie Sturgeon. Because as I mentioned in that post, that's not the only Gold Lion hardback I've bought off Jamie this year; I've taken two others off his hands besides, one of which looks like this:
A British hardback edition of Dan J. Marlowe's Operation Drumfire, published by Gold Lion in 1973, published that same year in paperback in the UK by Coronet, and originally published in paperback in the US by Fawcett/Gold Medal in 1972. I wrote about Marlowe earlier this year, in a series of posts on his 1960s/70s twelve-book crime-cum-spy series starring violent criminal-turned-secret agent Earl Drake (those posts also available on The Violent World of Parker), of which Operation Drumfire marks the halfway point. I haven't yet read this far in the series, but unlike other critics and commentators, who single out the, admittedly brilliant, opening one-two crime fiction punch that is The Name of the Game is Death and One Endless Hour, I actually rather like the ensuing espionage-leaning Drake adventures – those that I've tried, anyway. And I'm not alone: the excellent Spy Guys and Gals site has a lot of time for them as well.
All twelve of the Drake novels were published straight to paperback by Fawcett/Gold Medal in the States, and almost all of them were given the same treatment in the UK by Coronet. But Gold Lion also got in on the act in the UK, publishing the first six Drake adventures (out of sequence) in hardback across 1973, initially under illustrated wrappers, then under photographic ones. It was the only time the books ever appeared in hardcover, and consequently they've become rather scarce: as I write, AbeBooks has just five listed, four of those being Operation Breakthrough, the other being an ex-library copy of The Name of the Game is Death, which, despite being the first book in the series, was the last Drake that Gold Lion issued. I'd never even seen a copy of Operation Drumfire before I came across it whilst rifling through Jamie's boxes at his house, so I was dead pleased to find it – and it brings my Marlowe/Gold Lion collection up to four books.
I've no idea who the dust jacket illustrator of the Gold Lion edition of Operation Drumfire is, but it's not outside the realms of possibility that it's the same chap who illustrated the wrapper of The Sour Lemon Score and indeed Operation Breakthrough (see above), an individual whom Gold Lion appear to have kept fairly busy, at least in the first half of 1973 (their jackets as a whole becoming more photographic in nature in the back half of the year). The modus operandi of Gold Lion, who were only in business for, I think, three or four years, seems to have been reissuing American paperback originals in hardcover; their initial offerings, in 1972, were westerns, and Operation Drumfire was among the very first batch of crime fiction/thrillers they published, in March of 1973 (handily, Gold Lion books sport the month of publication on their dust jacket front flap). The other two books in that first batch can be seen on the back cover of Operation Drumfire:
Sadly, I don't yet own a copy of The Green Eagle Score (well, not the Gold Lion one, anyway; obviously I own one or two other editions of that particular novel)... but I do, thanks to Jamie Sturgeon, own the other spotlighted Gold Lion book, Edward S. Aarons's Assignment Black Viking, which I'll be turning to next, beginning a short series of posts on Aarons and his best-known creation...