Mon 15 Nov 2010
They’re not exactly unknown, but to fans of Michael Avallone in the US, they might as well be. Perhaps it’s only a tease, but British mystery bookseller Jamie Sturgeon has sent me cover images of two of the three Avallone crime novels published only in England. (An earlier version of this post stated that all three are Ed Noon adventures, but only #2 and #3 are.)
1. The Killing Star. Robert Hale, 1969. Dust wrapper by Eileen Walton:
Blurb: Five housewives butchered, horribly mutilated and on each terrible occasion, the unknown killer had marked the symbol of the Star of David on the door. What ancient and horrible vengeance was reaching out from the graves of Europe to announce a greater crime?
Follow Detective Sam Swope on one of the most remarkable cases ever to tax the powers of “police procedure.” Learn as Sam Swope does that Death has many faces but the most savage mask of all has to be the one that comes in the guise of friendship, service and love. This is a raw and brutal book that is as contemporary as the morning’s murder.
Beginning the first chapter: High Noon. Now. Vietnam, race riots, Civil Rights battles. Taxes, irreverent movies, LSD trips for the unsophisticated and the foolish. Teenagers unsettled about how to cut their hair, how to dress — how to look. The cheats, the frauds, the second raters are having a field day at the expense of the victims. Music is struggling to sound coherent. The voice of the country is fighting the echoes of the unconstitutionality, alien reverberations and the shouts of doom from all sides.
The Left, the Right and Dead Centre are at destructive odds. The big clocks, the little clocks and fifty million wrist watches toll and tick towards Infinity. Take a rocket to the moon, vote Medicare and honour thy father and mother as thyself and meanwhile – look out for Number One!
The place. Your City and mine… Steepled, skylined, smog-filled, crime-filled and throbbing with immediacy. Concrete and common clay. General Motors products crowding the byways, jet planes thundering overhead, forests of T.V. antennae stabbing the unfriendly sky. What’s in it for me?
This is the battle cry of the metropolis. The sun, the moon and the stars have no chance for survival. Poetry, Beauty, Honesty are but dreams. The winds, the rains, the storms lash and howl through the canyons of the skyscrapers. The Crooked City never sleeps. It is a big zoo, vibrating with the footsteps of the great white hunters. The metropolis is in the cross-haired sights of annihilation [...]
2. The Big Stiffs. Robert Hale, 1977. Ed Noon.
3. Dark on Monday. Robert Hale, 1978. Ed Noon.
Blurb: The incredible crime wave began with a mysterious after-midnight telephone call to Manhattan Private Eye extraordinaire, Ed Noon – a death S.O.S. from an Irish dancer who looked Chinese. Then came the locust plague of poison-pen letters, a lethal swarm of brutality and terror which metamorphosed into an ugly chain of slaughtered Broadway showgirls.
All of which made Noon a Monday worrier – the Ed Noon of the pre-President’s agent days, the Noon who still slept on the couch in his office, when the hit musical DRAGON TIME playing to SRO audiences on Times Square, was also the playground of one of the most viscous killers Ed Noon had ever encountered. A killer whose name would not be found in a fortune cookie…
BONUS: The Flower-Covered Corpse. Robert Hale, 1969, preceding the Curtis US paperback edition (1972).