Wednesday 3 October 2012

Denis McLoughlin Designs: Epitaph for a Blonde by Ian Mercer (T. V. Boardman Bloodhound Mystery #291, 1960)

On to the second of three T. V. Boardman thrillers I acquired from book dealer Jamie Sturgeon, all of which boast dust jackets designed by the late, great Denis McLoughlin. And this next book is not only one of Boardman's select number of British Bloodhound Mysteries, as opposed to the more common or garden American variety, but it's a spy novel to boot, which again marks it out from Boardman's more traditional crime or suspense fare:

Published in the UK by T. V. Boardman in 1960, Epitaph for a Blonde is the third of Ian Mercer's three espionage novels starring James Nathaniel Pettigrew of the British Secret Service, and follows Journey into Darkness and Mission to Majorca (both 1958, and both extremely hard to come by these days). Except, as the dust jacket flap of Epitaph and James Nathaniel Pettigrew's dedicated page on Spy Guys & Gals both point out, by this juncture in the series, Pettigrew is no longer called Pettigrew, but Charles Graham, and is now a retired schoolteacher. Indeed, Spy Guys & Gals even goes so far as to speculate that Epitaph for a Blonde might have originally been "a stand-alone that the publisher forced the author to changing [sic]". Certainly Mercer wrote a number of other standalone spy and crime novels, including The Green Windmill (1945), A Man Gets Into His Tomb (1948) and Curs in Clover (also 1948), as well as, by the looks of it, some travel guides, notably Majorca on £50 (1970; evidently Mercer felt something of an affinity for the Balearic island).

As with B. X. Sanborn's The Doom-Maker, this copy of Epitaph for a Blonde is ex-library, this time hailing from a public library in Newport, Wales which has, I believe, since closed down (the library, not the town or the country; those were definitely still open last I looked). Unfortunately Denis McLoughlin's rather nice dust jacket has suffered the indignity of losing a strip from its top and bottom where the tape affixing it to its library plastic covering has been ripped away. But never mind: it doesn't detract from the lovely artwork too much, and I've duly added it to the Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery.

Which is, of course, what I'll also be doing with the next McLoughlin/Boardman book I'll be blogging about – a 1963 political thriller which appears to have been written by a noted economist and former member of the US Foreign Service...

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