Friday 29 November 2013

Anthony Price's David Audley Spy Novels in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s

When I noted at the start of my review of spy novelist Anthony Price's fifth novel, Other Paths to Glory (Gollancz, 1974), in June of last year that it had "been a good six months since I last posted anything substantial about Anthony Price and his David Audley series of espionage novels", little did I realise that it would be another year-and-a-half before I returned to Mr. Price. The consequence, I suppose, of having a 'to-read' pile akin to, if not a mountain, then at least an impressive hillock – not to mention having a six-month-old daughter as well, I guess – but even so, the lack of any Price posts still represents a dreadful dereliction of duty, even if I have mentioned him in passing here and there (and exchanged the odd private letter with him too; oh I'm such a namedropper).

To make amends, then, I'm rounding off Existential Ennui's regular blogging for 2013 – yes, the traditional Existential Ennui festive piss-up--I mean, review of the year is almost upon us, God help us – with a pair of Anthony Price posts. There'll be a review of his sixth novel, Our Man in Camelot (Gollancz, 1975), up anon, but first I thought I'd showcase some of the first editions of his novels I've picked up over the last year or two (or three in some cases), not least because the dust jackets of these ones fit the bill for my recently established British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s gallery, and the addition of them to said gallery takes the number of book covers therein up to 120 (a total which almost rivals that of the original Existential Ennui gallery, Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s). And they are:

The Hour of the Donkey, published in hardback by Gollancz in 1980. The tenth novel in the nineteen-book David Audley series, it was the third to feature a pictorial dust jacket, as opposed to the initial seven Audley thrillers, all of which sported variations on the iconic – largely typographic – Gollancz yellow wrapper design. The striking jacket photograph is by Oliver Hatch, who was already represented in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s by his jacket for the Price novel prior to this one, Tomorrow's Ghost (Gollancz, 1979). I have a feeling one of Hatch's photos appears on the front of the novel prior to that one too, The '44 Vintage (1978), but I don't own a copy of the Gollancz edition (I have a signed US edition instead) so I can't say for certain. I do, however, know that Mr. Hatch's work appears on the front of the novel subsequent to The Hour of the Donkey:

Soldier No More, the eleventh Audley thriller, published in hardback by Gollancz in 1981 – that much is evident from merely a glance at the cover. It's worth noting, by the way, that as with all the images in this post (and indeed all the images across Existential Ennui) you can see the front of the jacket at a larger size if you click on it, and read a synopsis of the plot if you click on the image of the case and jacket flaps. But it's worth clicking on the back cover too, I feel – on all the back covers in this post, in fact, as the notices for Price's novels carried thereon give a feel for how well-respected his work was (and still is, I hasten to add).

Skipping over the next Audley novel, The Old Vengeful (Gollancz, 1982) – I do own it, but its wrapper, featuring a Turner watercolour, is atypical both of thriller cover design of the era and of the Audley series itself at this juncture – we come to the thirteenth Audley outing:

Gunner Kelly, published in hardback by Gollancz in 1983. The front cover photo is credited to Bruce Coleman Ltd., now known as Bruce Coleman Inc., a nature photography library which can be viewed here, but the jacket design is by Brian Nicholls, who also designed the wrapper of the 1983 Gollancz reissue of the second Audley novel, The Alamut Ambush (originally 1971), which I'd already included in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s. Nicholls may well have also been responsible for the jackets of the last two Audley novels I'm showcasing here:

Sion Crossing, published in hardback by Gollancz in 1984, and:

Here Be Monsters, published in hardback by Gollancz in 1985, but neither design is credited, merely the pictures on the front – respectively a nineteenth century drawing by Theodore Russell Davis and a fifteenth century illustration of The Romance of the Rose, the latter held by the Bodleian Library in Price's native Oxford. After this point the Gollancz jackets for Price's remaining four Audley novels took on a more typographic aspect, in a way mirroring those wrapping the Audley novels of the early to mid-1970s – novels such as 1975's Our Man in Camelot. (See what I did there...?)

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Parker Scores: UK Hardback Editions of Richard Stark's Point Blank, The Man with the Getaway Face, Slayground and The Outfit (Allison & Busby, 1984/1989)

NB: A Version of this post also appears at The Violent World of Parker. Linked in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

This, I fear, will be my final Violent World of Parker/Existential Ennui cross-post of 2013. The year is fast disappearing on me, and I can't in all honesty see myself returning to Donald E. Westlake or Richard Stark – or any others of Westlake aliases for that matter – before it breathes its last. Rest assured, however, that I'll be back blogging at The Violent World of Parker in the new year, although I suspect not with any greater frequency than I have of late; the demands of fatherhood, and life, and work – not to mention Existential Ennui (with which I'll be soldiering on in my usual intermittent fashion in the interim) – mean that I'll probably only manage one cross-post a month, if that. Cause for celebration in some quarters I'm sure, but at least I'm going out with a bang in the shape of a sizeable Parker Score, comprising not one, not two, not three, but four Allison & Busby British hardback editions: Point Blank, The Man with the Getaway Face, Slayground (all 1984) and The Outfit (1988).

Now, I should point out that I already owned all four of these editions. But these 'new' copies, which I purchased from Brighton book dealer Alan White, are in better condition than my ones, and Alan did me such a good deal on them I couldn't resist 'upgrading'. That said, my old copies are still in pretty good nick – even The Man with the Getaway Face, which is ex-library – so I'll be offloading them on eBay at some point, along with some other Westlake goodies. Although I might keep my other copy of The Outfit; curiously, and intriguingly, the copy I bought off Alan is bound in red leather rather than the usual black Arlin – although still foil-blocked on the spine – which makes me wonder if it wasn't rebound for either a private library or maybe even Allison & Busby's own files.

It'll be interesting – to me anyway – to see whether the Allison & Busby hardbacks hold their value once the new IDW hardback editions of the Parker novels start arriving next year. While the A&B editions weren't, in many cases, the first time the Parkers had appeared in hardback – Random House got there first with Deadly Edge and Slayground in 1971 and Plunder Squad in 1972, followed by Gold Lion with three earlier Parkers in 1973 and Gregg Press with another handful of early ones in 1981 – A&B did manage to issue more Parkers in hardback than any other publisher – thirteen in total from the sixteen-book 1962–1974 original run (A&B never published Plunder Squad or Butcher's Moon, and only ever published Deadly Edge in paperback). Presumably – assuming their new editions are successful enough – at some point IDW will pass that milestone, but even so, I think I'll still treasure my A&B editions not only as the piece of publishing history – especially British publishing history – they are, but also for how the collecting of those books led to both Existential Ennui becoming what it is today (for better or for worse) and to my becoming co-blogger at The Violent World of Parker (ditto).

Of course, whether or not I'll be able to resist the urge to start collecting the IDW editions too is another matter entirely...

Anyway, the acquisition of these books affords me the opportunity to add yet more Richard Stark covers to Existential Ennui's bulging British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s page, even though these Allison & Busby dust jackets, all designed by Mick Keates, are perhaps more indicative of the publisher's house style than of that particular era of cover design.

And there'll be further additions to British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s fairly soon, as I make a return to the work of spy novelist Anthony Price...

Monday 25 November 2013

The Man from Destiny and The Brave Cannot Yield by Ian Mackintosh (Robert Hale, 1969/1970)

I'm going to try and make this final Ian Mackintosh post shorter than the ones on Mackintosh's first and second novels, A Slaying in September (1967) and Count Not the Cost (also 1967) – and indeed the introductory one on Mackintosh and his most celebrated creation, The Sandbaggers – which shouldn't be a problem since I won't be reviewing the two Mackintosh novels under discussion –

The Man from Destiny, published in hardback by Robert Hale in 1969 with a dust jacket designed by Barbara Walton, and

The Brave Cannot Yield, published in hardback by Robert Hale in 1970 with a dust jacket designed by Kingaby/Keeman – for the simple reason that I haven't read them yet. Even so, it's worth showcasing them, I think, because like A Slaying in September, Count Not the Cost and the third novel Mackintosh published in this formative phase of his writing career, 1968's A Drug Called Power (which I don't own), they're so incredibly scarce they haven't been seen online in this depth before (merely the front of their jackets, in this Mystery*File post). And anyway, given that my reviews of A Slaying in September and Count Not the Cost weren't exactly glowing, and that having flicked through The Man from Destiny and The Brave Cannot Yield I can't imagine I'll respond to them any more favourably than I did their forebears, it's perhaps best for all concerned that I don't review them – at least not for a while anyway.

Let's stick to the certitudes for now then, which are that while The Man from Destiny is a standalone work, starring one Danny Mason, a young man engaged in a war against his twin brother and father's criminal organisation, The Brave Cannot Yield is a sequel – a sequel to a sequel, in fact, being the third (and final) Mackintosh novel to feature private investigator-turned-scourge of the drugs underworld-turned-British secret agent Tim Blackgrove – the others being A Slaying in September and A Drug Called Power. (An aside: I must admit I initially mocked the notion of a private investigator-turned-scourge of the drugs underworld-turned British secret agent being named Tim, but late in A Slaying in September it's revealed that 'Tim' is a nickname, an acronym composed of the first letters of Blackgrove's actual forenames, the first of which, we learn in The Brave Cannot Yield, is Tyrone. Although on reflection, Tyrone is almost as ridiculous a name for a private investigator-turned-scourge of the drugs underworld-turned British secret agent as Tim.)

Other certitudes are that while my copy of The Man from Destiny is in pretty good nick, my copy of The Brave Cannot Yield is an ex-library one missing not only its front endpaper but its first page as well. A shocking state of affairs, obviously – ex-library is one thing, but I can't abide mutilated (by librarians, invariably) books – but one I have resigned myself to on account of it's unlikely I'll come across a better – or indeed any other – copy of it anytime soon. Both books were acquired from the legend that is Jamie Sturgeon, and the covers of both have now been deposited in their respective appropriate Existential Ennui galleries – Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s in the case of Barbara Walton's fine effort for The Man from Destiny, and British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s for Kingaby/Keeman's, ah, idiosyncratic offering for The Brave Cannot Yield.

And speaking of British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s, I'll shortly be adding yet more covers to the page...