A blog about pulp book cover designs and the pages they contain.
May 30, 2010
the High Priestess of Pulp Crime:
“In the past fourty-eight hours a poison capsule had been cut out of her body; she had thought Willie dead, found he was alive and fought a carefully faked duel; she had made a four-hour swim, paddled a canoe for six hours, slept for ten, tested her shoulder in combat, made complex plans and preparations. And now…”
When you read it like that, it all seems highly improbable, which is sort of the point. Reading it in context, however, it doesn’t seem quite so implausible, which is down to O’Donnell’s exquisite attention to ensuring every detail is accurate, and his uncanny knack of creating one scary, cold-blooded villain after another.
I’ve never seen any of the cinema adaptations that currently exist, but I’ve often though that Modesty Blaise was a character just crying out for a proper cinematic adaptation: a truly strong independent woman who could give a sexy high-kick along with the best of them, and guarantee more action than that boring old chauvanist James Bond (of whom I will be writing about in future posts, of course).
(One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the online tributes to O’Donnell mention that Modesty Blaise is known as the High Priestess of Pulp, which is why I used it as the post-title, but I’ve been unable to discover who first coined that epithet — does anyone know?)
John D. MacDonald was one of those prolific novel writers, who seemed to publish at least one or two novels a year. They’re often graced with a Robert McGinnis cover featuring buxom broads and dashing young men in tight slacks. I’m not sure if this one is by McGinnis or one of the many cover artists who were influenced by him, but it’s a pity that someone at Pan Books decided to crop most of the original painting out of this particular cover design. I suppose it does make it uniform with the rest of this reprint series, and it’s a striking cover design nonetheless.
Deadly Welcome is an entertaining read set in MacDonald’s adopted home of Florida, a place he seemed to simultaneously love and hate, at least if the voice of his protagonist(s) is anything to go by. The main protagonist in this book, Alex Doyle, returns home to a small town he swore never to go back to, and finds himself embroiled in a hunt for a murderer and some hidden money. There’s a bad cop, a capable woman with a secret, a lot of small town attitudes and a whole lot of subtext about abuse. A Deadly Welcome, indeed.
“He went over the edge six months ago. And this whole town is to blame. You lawful people didn’t care if he whipped heads just so long as he whipped the heads on people who had no way of fighting back. You were even kind of sneaky proud of him. Toughest deputy on the west coast of Florida. And you thought that Old West outfit of his was amusing. You folks grew yourself a paranoid. Nobody has told me, but I can tell you just how he lives. He has a small place somewhere. With a lot of privacy. And he keeps it as bare and neat as a monk’s cell. He’ll have a gun rack and he’ll keep those guns in perfect shape. He’ll scrub the floor on his hands and knees. After he makes the bed, you can bounce a coin on it. No books, no television, no hobby except the guns and hunting. When he wants a woman he’ll go after one that’s drab and humble and scared, and it will be as close to rape as the law allows.”
* a clear scan or photograph of the cover art (or poster art, if it’s a film)
* credits for the author and the cover designer wherever known
* a quote from the book/comic/movie which you feel sums it up (without giving away too many spoilers!)
* a review of the book/comic/movie
* links to other sites about the author(s) and artist(s)
* a short bio about yourself if you want
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