I like to read 1950s noir fiction, those paperback books about shady women leading men down the path to hell. I like caper novels and certain psychological mysteries, especially if there is a beautiful “dame” or “doll” or “dish” on the cover.
This is the cover of a book I recently read, which I found at a flea market. It wasn’t a great book, but it was a good page turner about a psychopathic killer who pretends he’s a retired British army officer and stalks various females. The title was odd and didn’t quite seem to fit, except maybe for the fact that the officer isn’t on any official military records, because his career is a fake and he’s an impostor.
I probably wouldn’t have bought the book if it didn’t have this striking, cold beauty on the cover, which was painted by Robert A. Maguire, one of my favorite paperback artists, and whose work can be seen here. I urge you to check out the link!
Nowadays people sometimes say that the femme fatale archetype is one of those stereotypical characters our “post-feminist” society has outgrown, now that women are empowered and have more choices besides being a madonna or a whore, a housewife or a floozy. But I recently saw a mannequin in a women’s clothing store window that reminded me of the Maguire girl above, and made me realize that the paperback villainess of yesterday has now been transformed into the icy shill for ladies garments of today. Because let’s face it–most of the women you see in clothing ads or fashion layouts all have this same vaguely sociopathic hard-edged look. Many of them look like they could be fierce dominatrixes if you got them in the right situation.
Cold women for a cold world?
You can find copies of Murder Off the Record at Amazon here, where I found the cover scan. I could have scanned my copy, but I was just feeling too lazy…