Tag Archives: Raymond Chandler

Pulp Friday: Guns with plots

Let’s make one thing clear. I don’t own a gun. Never have and never will. Indeed, the only guns I want to see are in film or on the cover of books like the ones featured in today’s Pulp Friday post.

For a while now I have been obsessed with the cover above of the 1964 Panther edition of Len Deignton’s The Ipcress File. The cover, done by influential English graphic designer, Ray Hawkey, who would go onto to do a number of paperback covers, exudes a style and tone I could never imagine being used today except as a deliberate retro homage.

It speaks to the everyday grime, drudgery and unglamorous boredom of the Cold War spy racket, which the Deighton novels featuring the working class spy, Harry Palmer, evoke so well. There is also the mess that comes with the trade: a cold cup of tea (probably cold); cigarettes, because in the sixties every fictional spy smoked; paperclips for the paperwork; and, a gun and bullets, because sometimes you have to kill someone.

It is a gritty, cluttered layout I associate with mass paperback novels of the type that were largely targeted at men in the 1960s and 1970s. As it turns out, a bit of a dig around reveals it was a style that was widely used in those two decades – but it also bled over into the 1980s – by mass market paperback publishers in the crime, mystery and espionage thriller categories.… Read more

Beat Not the Bones & the story of an Australian Edgar Allan Poe Award winner

Beat Not the Bones Avon 1955As many of the my US readers will no doubt be aware, America’s foremost crime writing awards, the annual Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards, will be presented on April 28.

The upcoming awards make it an opportune time to revisit the winner of the Edgar Award in 1954. That book was called Beat Not the Bones, and it was written not by an American but by an Adelaide-born woman called Geraldine Halls, writing under the pseudonym, Charlotte Jay. That the winner the next year was Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, gives you some idea how prestigious Halls’ win was.

Why some writers and their books go onto achieve lasting literary fame, while others, in this case Halls and her considerable work, sink into obscurity, always fascinates me. In a writing career stretching from 1951 to her last published novel in 1995, she produced fifteen books. Seven of these appeared under the pseudonym of Jay, her maiden name, and seven as Geraldine Halls, Halls being her married name. Another was published under the alias Geraldine Mary Jay.

There is very little information available about Halls, who died in Adelaide in October 1996, and the only image I could find on the Internet is on the Austlit site and is taken from the Adelaide Advertiser, dated May 8, 1853.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Playback by Raymond Chandler

This week’s Pulp Friday offering needs no introduction, Raymond Chandler’s Playback.

Playback was Chandler’s last book, published in 1958, a year before his death, and based on a screenplay he had written several years earlier. It features his iconic creation Philip Marlowe.

This is an Australian version of the book, published locally by Horwitz Publications in 1961.

Based in Sydney but with offices in Melbourne, Horwitz Publications was established in 1921. It started out doing trade publications and sporting magazines, but by the fifties had branched into popular and pulp fiction, including mystery, thrillers, romance and westerns.

The company published locally sourced stories, as well as Australians editions of overseas works. Well know authors included Carter Brown, Marshall Grover and Marc Brody. Some of its best known names were pseudonyms used by multiple writers.

Horwitz ceased producing fiction in the late nineties.

Although Playback is considered the weakest of Chandler’s seven novels, I’m sure you’ll agree with me the cover is a beauty.

The blurb on the back is also a vintage hard boiled prose.

“The Redhead didn’t look like a tramp, not did she look like a crook.

But when hard-boiled Philip Marlowe was paid to tail her he got plenty besides information.”