John Creasey, Inspector West Cries Wolf, Hodder & Stoughton, 1954
Hodder & Stoughton original Yellow Jacket series were published in England from 1926 until 1939. A second series was launched in 1949. Each book cost 2 shillings. The covers remained yellow until 1957, when the series gave way to Hodder Pocket books. Uber-prolific English author John Creasey (1908 – 1973) published there some of the six hundred novels he is credited with (under twenty-eight pseudonyms). Hodder & Stoughton published notably books with his Inspector Roger West , and his eccentric, aristocratic, “Saint”- like character, the “Toff”, a sort of later days Arsène Lupin. The Toff was created in 1938. Charteris’s The Saint was also published and republished in the same series, as were many successes from the first, interwar series : Wallace, Oppenheim and Sapper amongst many others. Or Patricia Wentworth, with her upper-class compatible, governess-detective, Miss Silver. The yellow covers signal classicism, in the detective novel or the thriller traditions.
With thanks to Didier Poiret
Frédéric Dard’s noir novel titled The Executioner’s Tears (Le Bourreau pleure,1956) won the 1957 Grand prix de littérature policière. It was translated in post communist Russia and was published almost simultaneously three times, a sign of the enthusiasm, dynamism, and anarchy of the translated books market in Russia in the early 1990s. Continue reading
With thanks to Didier Poiret
In preparation for the San-Antonio International conference due to take place in Queen’s University, Belfast on the 15th-16th of May and which aims to look at, amongst other things, the international career of Frédéric Dard, aka San-Antonio, often considered France’s most quintessentially French writer (whatever that might mean), can you recognise the original books by Dard, under their Japanese covers ?
Les Sept Cadrans (The Seventh Dials Mystery, 1929) Cover by A. Masson, Le Masque, 44, 1929
Le Secret de Chimneys (The Secret of Chimneys, 1925 ), Translation Juliette Parry, Le Masque, 126, 1933. Continue reading
With thanks to Philippe Aurousseau and courtesy of oncle-archibald.BlogSpot
The 62 volumes of the adventures of French Amateur Detective Marc Jordan were one of the earliest French publisher’s series devoted to crime fiction . The publisher was Ferenczi, whose publishing house would soon become a cornerstone of Popular Fiction in France. From September 1907 readers could purchase every Tuesday, at a price of 25 centimes, the last instalment in the Exploits surprenants du plus grand détective Français. The following year (1908) the Éclair company, would release Nick Carter, le roi des detectives, the silent film directed by Victorin Jasset, highlighting the parallels between Marc Jordan and the American detective Nick Carter. Nick Carter Detective Library had started in 1891. Street & Smith would then publish a magazine, Nick Carter Weekly, until 1915. It was in some respects a template for Ferenczi’s Marc Jordan.
Each issue of Marc Jordan’s adventures consisted of 32 pages (22 x 27 cm). The covers were illustrated by painters and cartoonists Edouard Yrondy (1 to 42) Hickx (43 to 46), Michel Ronceray (No. 47 to 52) and Marco (No. 53 in 62). Continue reading
Cornell Woolrich, The black path of fear, The Crime Club, Doubleday, Doran, 1944
The Big data approach and instruments, which inform this blog, do not only allow to study globally a population of popular writers who, in an international effort and over many decades invented Crime fiction. It also helps to envision the books they produced in a material way, in their condition as objects, commodities and fetishes. The juxtaposition of hundreds of book covers from different countries reveals their semiotics, with their recurring motifs and their serial patterns. Books covers can thus be read as sites where developments in international cultural industries, the specialisation of narrative genres, the publishers’ distinctive strategies and the evolution of popular representations and tastes all intersect. The available metadata linked with each cover also recalls that Crime Fiction series fostered some of the past century’s greatest artists. This post displays a very short selection of some Crime Fiction cover art, as milestones in a cultural history of the international imagination of crime, and its visualisation.
Francis D. Grierson (1888-1972), O Negro Assassino (Murder in Black, 1935; Portuguese translation : Adolfo Coelho, 1938). Colecção Os Melhores Romances Policiais, Volume 44, 2nd edition, 1947
2 – Condenado à morte de Georges Simenon
3 – A casa fatal de Leon Groc
4 – O segredo de H.21 de Adolfo Coelho
5 – O “autobus” desaparecido de Leon Groc
6 – Quem matou? De Charles Kingston
7 – Três crimes de Marcel Marc
8 – “ M” de Leonard Falkner
9 – A horrível morte de miss Gildchrist de Jean Toussaint-Samat
10 – O mistério de Loverval de S. André Steeman
(Click to enlarge)
With thanks to Benoit Tadié
The crime scene map is a feature commonly associated with 1920’s Crime Fiction. Detective novels of the Golden Age tended to favour the spatial representation of the mystery to be solved. The maps appended to the novels were data visualisations, as they presented the plot in one easy (and appealing) overview. Typically, a locked room mystery, or a secluded place mystery (remote manor, island, lighthouse…) could handily be mapped on one page. Such cartographic paratexts not only accompanied the novel, but often preceding it, they led into it. They were printed in the first pages of the volume, and at times on the cover itself, inviting the reader to a symbolic and cognitive journey. They helped visualize the information relevant to the solution of the case presented in the book. But at the same time, as they established a sense of location, they dematerialized it into a projection, and an abstraction. They became thus metaphors of the detective novel as an intellectual construct. Imaginary, simplified spaces, stages for schematic problems, disconnected from referential realities. This view was further corroborated by Chandler’s dichotomy, distinguishing between the realistic, gritty, hard-boiled genre, which he and Hammett represented, and the delicate, but ultimately insubstantial, de-realized Mystery genre incarnated by Christie, Carr, Sayers and co. Associated with golden age detective fiction, maps would then paradoxically seem, from this point of view too, to indicate less referential substance, rather than more. Continue reading
The “Colecção Vampiro”, published from 1947 by Editora Livros do Brasil, in Lisbon, was one of the very fist series of Crime Fiction paperbacks in Portuguese. It was certainly the most popular. The “Masters of detective fiction” published there showed a large emphasis on English and American authors. The notoriety of the authors seemed of rather more importance than a clear definition of the sub-genre of crime Fiction the books pertained to. Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers appeared alongside Hammett and Chandler; Wallace with Simenon; Van Dine with Ellery Queen. The latter, and the likes of Erle Stanley Gardner were the most represented. While a close contemporary of Gallimard’s “Série Noire” (created in 1945) Vampiro was editorially much closer to Le Masque (Librarie des Champs Elysées, 1927). Vampiro favoured novels of deduction and investigation over hardboiled noir. Continue reading