Wednesday 6 November 2013

Andrew York, George V. Higgins, Brian Garfield and Charles McCarry in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s

When I established Existential Ennui's new permanent page, British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s, at the end of last week, I did so partly with the purpose in mind that it would afford me the opportunity to blog about some of the many secondhand books I've collected but haven't yet found the time to read (and probably won't for a while), thus at least allowing me to clear them from my groaning 'to blog about' shelves and instead move them to boxes in the loft – my reasoning being that though they may be out of (direct) sight, I can always refer to their posts on Existential Ennui when I'm pondering what to read next. Of course, what will probably happen is I'll forget all about this and instead do what I usually do when pondering what to read next, which is to stand before my bookcases (often in my pants) and study the books therein; but that's the idea, anyway. Cases in point are the books below, all of them by authors already represented in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s. And they are:

The Dominator by Andrew York – an alias of author Christopher Nicole – published in hardback by Hutchinson in 1969, jacket photograph by George Coral. This is the fifth novel in York's nine-book series starring Jonas Wilde, a.k.a. the Eliminator, and not only is it now in the British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s gallery, I've also added it to this Jonas Wilde cover gallery, where a number of other George Coral wrappers can be found (Coral's work can also be found on the jacket of the 1968 Jonathan Cape edition of Kingsley Amis's I Want it Now). Strictly speaking, as it was published in 1969 it really falls outside the purview of the former, but stylistically I'd say it's very much a child of the '70s rather than the '60s, so I'm bunging it in anyway, alongside the 1984 Severn House edition of York's non-Wilde novel The Combination, which sports a jacket photograph (of a mosque in Isfahan, Iran) by Michael Lancaster, and which I picked up on holiday in Suffolk.

The Digger's Game by George V. Higgins, published in hardback by Secker & Warburg in 1973, jacket design by Tom Simmonds. Higgins has made a few prior appearances on Existential Ennui, the last time being in 2011; The Digger's Game was his second novel, following 1970s's classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which I blogged about in its 1972 Secker edition back in 2010, and which also boasts a Tom Simmonds dust jacket, beneath which The Digger's Game now resides in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s. And very fetching they both look too.

The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry, published by Hutchinson in 1975, jacket illustration by Ian Robertson (who also illustrated the wrappers of the Collins editions of Alistair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare). This is the spy novel sequel to McCarry's debut, The Miernik Dossier, which I wrote about in its 1974 Hutchinson edition in 2011 in relation to how plagiarist Quentin Rowan had nicked chunks of McCarry's – and other authors' – novels for his debut novel Assassin of SecretsThe Tears of Autumn being, I believe, one of the McCarry books Rowan lifted passages from. Rowan later turned his experiences as a plagiarist into, you guessed it, a book, which was published last year to little acclaim.

Death Sentence by Brian Garfield, published by Macmillan in 1976, jacket photograph by Steve Puplett. Another sequel here, this time to Garfield's 1972 classic Death Wish, which I wrote about last year in its 1973 Hodder & Stoughton edition. The wrapper of this one intrigues me, as in its styling and setting it seems to be playing on the Michael Winner-directed Charles Bronson-starring 1974 film adaptation of Death Wish. A natural thing for a publisher wishing to shift books to do, I suppose, even though Garfield's Death Wish is a far superior best to its movie offspring: challenging, nuanced and thought-provoking as opposed to undemanding, bludgeoning and ham-fisted. And by the sounds of this Pulp Serenade review, Death Sentence is just as good, "a desolate but distinguished suspense novel".

There'll be further additions to British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s over the coming days and weeks, including a couple of covers from books by the subject of my next post: Ross Macdonald.