Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Miami Neon

Following Chester Himes and Ross Macdonald, Penguin Modern Classics' latest crime novelist gentrification project is the Hoke Moseley series from Charles Willeford. I'd never encountered these novels before (the only Willeford I'd read, the wonderfully titled The Shark-Infested Custard, is a complete blur in my memory), but I've just started on the first, and am enjoying it immensely. This is how it opens: from this, I imagine you'll know whether this is your cup of tea or not...



In any case, these books were first published, and are set, in the 1980s: more specifically, gaudy and crass 1980s Miami. Penguin commissioned Edward Bettison (who did their Macdonald covers too--see the link in the first paragraph) to provide appropriately neon-glowing retro cover designs. (And this time they remembered to credit him, too.) Click for huge versions.






8 comments:

Ian Shimkoviak said...

i love these! Very very fun designs and idea. Looks like it was very intense to design these.

JRSM said...

They're great. If he could have just found a way for them to change colour when exposed to body heat, and to play Ultravox when you open the covers, they would the perfect distillation of the 1980s...

jb said...

I could tell straightaway that these shared a design with the recent MacDonald Penguins - which is no bad thing, because those are great.

Will have to check these out - I'd never heard of Willeford before.

JRSM said...

From my limited exposure, he seems pretty brutal and old-school, with some nice black comedy. Those with sensitivities regarding matters of gender, race and sexuality will likely find plenty to be offended by. It's hard to work out how many of these views are the characters' and how many the author's.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

the American covers for these aren't half bad either. You can see that someone was playing off eachother... But these rock.

JRSM said...

Yes, they have a nice Hypercolour vibe to them. They look like daytime Miami, and the UK ones like nighttime Miami, if that makes sense.

Tulkinghorn said...

Actually, the Hoke Moseley books are rather sweet and funny as well as occasionally violent-- rather like Elmore Leonard or a high-rent Carl Hiasson.

A lot of people (including me) especially like a book called "The Burnt Orange Heresy", whose hero is a dishonest art critic hunting down a reclusive French artist hiding in the Everglades. Mostly available in an edition published by the much-mourned Black Lizard Press, before it was sold to Random House.

Check out this lineup:

http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/hasrg/ablit/amerlit/lizard.html

JRSM said...

'Heresy' sounds like just me thing. And I just found a whole bunch of early Willefords are out of copyright in the US and available online here: http://www.munseys.com/detail/mode/author/willeford

There were some great books in the old Black Lizard series. I've got some battered lesser James Cains and some Steve Fishers from that lot.