The golden age of pulp noir detective novels is long gone, but their covers -- hand-painted, dramatic, misogynist -- have become symbolic of a genre and an aesthetic that speak of guns, broads and crimes of passion.
Yet at closer inspection, so many of these covers don't make any sense at all. We've picked out a handful of covers from the 30s to the 50s, and spotted more than a few things that made us go "hmmmm..."
We don't remember Sherlock's adventures being quite so erotically charged.
Like to see my etchings?
The original title wasn't quite as racy.
Wanted: better chairs
He really doesn't look very comfortable. Also, that gun seems very much an afterthought. What is he pointing it at? And how long exactly is his arm?
The clue is in the words
The subhead here doesn't make much sense: "Was Frank Daniels dead or alive? Even the killer didn't known for sure." Hint: if he's the killer, and Frank is the corpse, we're betting on dead.
The mystery of the dirty glove
Corpses have such low personal standards when it comes to laundry.
Murder is misspelled.
Plenty to take in
A pulpy detective magazine here with a lot going on - there's ice-skating, shots hitting the ice, fired from the doorway, a mystery skater falling, a crowd dressed for the opera... and a title that refers to none of the above. The Hollywood Detective has plenty to investigate.
An odd Blue Suede Shoes reference
A very odd rhyme that doesn't really work, and refers to an Elvis lyric, is completely overwhelmed by the greater mystery of why she is brushing his hair with a toothbrush.
That ill-fitting raincoat doesn't look any better in red.
Mr Christie would never have had this problem
The problem with female authors is that you don't know how to refer to them. "The Mistress of Crime"? "The Female Master"? No wait... I got it...
Death has no company
There's no denying a sentence like that. No, wait... Also features the most afterthought apostrophes in design history.