Saturday, November 10, 2018

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a book cover.

  • Title: A Grue of Ice
  • Subtitle: A novel of suspense and terror in the Antarctic
  • Author: Geoffrey Jenkins (1920-2001)
  • Cover designer: Arthur Hawkins Jr. (1903-1985)
  • Cover typography: Amazing
  • Publisher: The Viking Press, New York
  • Original price: $3.95
  • Publication date: 1962
  • Count the pages: There are 242 pages.
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Back-cover praise from Ian Fleming: "The reader is dealt such a series of highly expert jolts to the solar plexus in the Geoffrey Household style that he reaches the last page panting ... a literate, imaginative first novel in the tradition of high and original adventure." (That promotional blurb is actually for Jenkins' novel A Twist of Sand.)
  • So what's a grue? In addition to being a creature — first imagined by author Jack Vance and later popularized in Infocom text adventures — that preys on poor souls who wander around in the dark, grue is a noun that can refer to "a fit of shivering," "a particle or bit," or "a thin segment of floating ice."
  • First sentence: "Drake Passage!"
  • Last sentence: "Old John Wetherby would have liked it that way," she said.
  • Random sentence from middle: Of the Thorshammer there was no sign, not even a funnel glow to pick her up in the blackness.
  • Best chapter titles: "The Man with the Immaculate Hand" and "A Cold Grue of Terror"
  • Goodreads rating: 3.66 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2015, Martin Allen gave it three stars, but wrote: "Formulaic in style — bad guys searching for something, good guys get implicated in bad guys shenanigans. BUT... it was riproaringly entertaining and what it lacked in creative depth and literary pretentiousness it certainly made up for in tidal excitement. Surprisingly enjoyable and I found I struggled to put it down."
  • Notes: This suspense novel centers around the actual (and extremely remote) Bouvet Island and the nearby phantom Thompson Island, which Geoffrey Jenkins claims, perhaps playfully, does exist. ... Cover designer Hawkins was one of the most famed artists in his unique field. His dust jackets, beginning in the 1930s, were, according to a 2012 post by Steven Heller, "highly stylized, most remarkably poster-like with a European accent, at a time when jackets were considered an extraneous yet necessary marketing encumbrance." Heller's post also contains a number of other great examples of Hawkins' work, many of which display his "three-color conceit." According to a 2017 article in The Los Angeles Times, a bookseller once told Hawkins' son, “I bought more bad mysteries because your dad’s covers were so good!” Finally, if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, a mere $22,000 can buy you a collection of Arthur Hawkins Jr. original artwork on (And shipping is a steal at $4.50!) The collection includes "three original dustwrapper paintings, eight original dry point illustrations, seven large pencil and pen drawings, two scratchboard illustrations, one color airbrushed advertising image, and a binder containing 55 partial dustwrappers of his work, including one unused jacket proof."

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There is an archway in the northern wall. It is the only exit.

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