Okay, technically this is not a cover, it is a jacket. This, along with a bag of books that have been in the garage for years, used to be up at the cabin. It has a copyright of 1951, first edition, published by Little Brown. I have no idea if it's good or not. I've never read it. It sat on the bookshelf at the cabin for around 30 years. A woman whose husband was the caretaker in the development gave my family a bag of books. I'd forgotten I even had these. Now I must decide whether to toss them or keep them.

The Iron Virgin_James M. Fox_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I'm not finding much about the author, James. M. Fox, other than what follows.

There is a book which consists of letters James M. Fox and Raymond Chandler wrote to each other. According to a site where the book is for sale:
Fascinating correspondence spanning the years 1950 to 1956 between the two genre authors, who met at a party at mystery collector Ned Guymon's house. Fox eventually dedicates his book DARK CRUSADE to Chandler. Chandler, as ever, writes a superb letter. (SOURCE: Mystery and Imagination Online Bookstore)
And then I'm finding this brief biographical information:
James M. Fox: pseudonym of Johannes Matthijs Willem Knipscheer: California-resident naturalized American-citzen author born in The Hague, Netheralnds; attorney (commercial law); legal advisor to Minister of War of Netherlands Government-in-Exile:
* 21 mystery/detective novels with series characters Steve Harvester, Sergeant Jerry Long and Sergeant Chuck Conley, John Marshall (Johnny and Suzy Marshall) (SOURCE: Magic Dragon)
So my question is, would you buy this book based on this jacket? Would you think "Geez, this is so cheesy that:
  1. I have to have it because it's soooooooo cheesy
  2. This is tooooo cheesy. I don't read books like this
  3. What do I know? The babe is wearing a table cloth and I collect table cloths.
What's the book about? Here's the front flap:

The Iron Virgin_flap_Fox_tatteredandlost

And here are the first two paragraphs:
The hypodermic needle punctured my gum at a spot that felt like several inches away from the lower right molar the dentist had been poking at with corkscrew, chisel, claw hammer and air hose full of stale cold iodoform. I grunted, more in disgust than in pain, and determinedly focused my eyes through the window on a patch of dust-blue afternoon sky in the ragged pattern of November rain clouds, torn to piece by a blustery southwester that came rocketing across from the Pacific through the distant yellow canyons of the Baldwin Hills.

Dr. Elmer B. Wittles chuckled cozily. "On target," he assured me. "Yes sir, Marshall, we have got that baby bracketed and roadblocked off as nice as pie. This isn't gonna hurt one teensy little bit." He stepped away from me, and checked the empty syringe with a glance against the lights, and favored me with a moonfaced, blandly professional smile.
As far as the jacket designer, Lew Keller...all I'm coming up with are sites about 1950s animation. I have no idea if the artist that did this design also worked on Mister Magoo. Maybe someday someone will find this post and fill-in the details for me.

Now, to keep or not to keep, that is the question.


  1. Husband, wife and huge dog.....was that Topper?
    Can't remember, but it was a series of old movies with a husband, wife and either an Old English Sheep dog or Saint Bernard... either way they were ghosts...

    My first thought is an "iron virgin" would most likely stay a virgin...

  2. Yup, that was Topper. Drunken Saint Bernard. Loved that show. Loved the movie with Cary Grant.

    The title does make one pause, especially when I notice the coffin has stakes sticking out of it. Not a girl you want to mess with.

  3. I would buy a book for its cover, but I would avoid buying this one for its cover. Those spikes give me the creeps. It reminds me of some tour I took of a torture museum that displayed an iron maiden, basically the same device as the one shown on the cover.

  4. Never buy a book for its cover. I'm telling you as a book designer. What you see may not be what you get. Sometimes I just sit and shake my head thinking "Are these people nuts?" Some really interesting books have been destroyed by horrible covers that were put together by egos. Sometimes it's the author that destroys their own book. Had that happen more than once. Sometimes it's the sales department. Putting together a cover design that works is a fluke.

  5. I just finished reading the paperback edition of The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro. The cover shows a woman on the beach in a swimming suit. As I was reading, I kept anticipating that someone might go to a beach at some point. It never happened, and I can only think that I must have missed out on some symbolism. I have also seen different books with virtually the same cover, which doesn't seem like it would benefit either.

  6. Definitely buy it and read 'the cheese' with your tongue firmly in your cheek (if that is possible).

  7. Ohhhhhh, yes...with perhaps a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

  8. The story description reminded me of 'The Thin Man' movies, especially the smart wife. I love Myrna Loy. I probably wouldn't read it though. Most pulp fiction written in the 50's was kind of cheesy. I usually decide by the end of the first page if it warrants further reading. They better grab me quickly!

  9. Yes, probably a poor mans version of Nick and Nora. It's been interesting going through this bag of book.s never knowing who the authors are. Well, that's not completely true. There are a couple 1st edition John O'Hara books. Other than that they're all forgettable. Knowing how excited they had to have been when first published to now be nothing more than recyclables. 90+ % of authors today will end up the same in 50 years.