Thursday, March 4, 2010

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: JADE FOR A LADY!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: JADE FOR A LADY!

M.E. CHABERS


They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, which is quite true. However, sometimes, you can’t judge a cover by the book it’s wrapped around. In the case of the Milo March novels by M.E. Chabers, the stunning paperback covers by Robert McGinnis are worth collecting no matter what text is contained within.

In the case of Chabers, the text is entertainingly pulpy, but eminently forgettable – a standard you might expect from an old time pulp writer who also created the Green Lama, a crime-fighting Buddhist superhero whose powers emerged upon the recitation of the Tibetan mantra, om mani padme hum.

Jade For A Lady was actually the twelfth Milo March novel, however, when the reprints bearing the beautiful McGinnis covers began appearing in the ‘70s, it bore the #1 logo designating it the first in the reprinted series. A lot of paperback original men’s adventure series were being successfully published at the time, all bearing their number in the series on the cover. Clearly, Paperback Library’s Milo March novels were trying to grab a share of that market.

The Milo March covers, with their James Coburn look-alike representing Milo March (does anyone know if Coburn was ever consulted or reimbursed for this blatant rip-off of his image), and their long limbed, come-hither-looking McGinnis women, contained the perfect blend of action and lurid promise to reel in ‘70s readers. Heck, they still reel me in today – so much better than the clip art, photo file, copycat state of today’s covers.

M.E. Chaber ( taken from the Hebrew word mechaber, meaning author) was one of the many pseudonyms of Kendall Foster Crossen (1910-1981), who created Milo March in the 1950s after years of prolific word spinning for the pulps, radio, and television.

March is a former OSS/CIA agent who has become an international, jet-setting, martini-drinking, poetry-quoting investigator for Intercontinental Insurance. Jade For A Lady is typical of the series in its breezy approach to both life and investigation, working almost as a ‘50s era man’s wish fulfillment featuring alcohol fueled male bonding, beautiful women, and professional success.

While somewhat dated today in this era of veneration for all things noir, desperate, and depraved, Jade For A Lady and the other Milo March novels are still a refreshing diversion.

MILO MARCH SERIES:

Hangman’s Harvest
No Grave for March
As Old as Cain
The Man Inside
The Splintered Man
The Burned Man
A Lonely Walk
Abra-Cadaver
The Gallows Garden
A Hearse of Another Color
So Dead the Rose
Jade for a Lady
Softly in the Night
Six Who Ran
Uneasy Lies the Dead
Wanted: Dead Men
The Day It Rained Diamonds
A Man in the Middle
Wild Midnight Falls
The Flaming Man
Green Grow the Graves
The Bonded Dead
Born to Be Hanged
Death To The Brides (unpublished)


TO READ BLOG BUDDY BILL CRIDER'S FORGOTTEN BOOK POST ON ANOTHER MILO MARCH CAPER CLICK HERE

7 comments:

Bill Crider said...

This will go great with my book for tomorrow, Paul. Another Milo March. Great coincidence.

Cunningham said...

This series looks like a great slice of cheese. By the looks - a Tillamook cheddar. Definitely not "good" for you, but tasty nonetheless.

And let's face it - McGinnis just nails it with these stylishly simple covers.

To my (admittedly feeble) eye, the character looks to be a cross between Coburn and Steve Holland.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would buy this for the cover alone.

Brian Sheridan said...

Last summer, I picked up several of this series. Great series that is pretty much forgotten. Thanks for the post!

Bill Raetz - Pulp Writer said...

Looks like a great series, indeed.

George said...

Two M. E. Chaber books in the same day! You and Bill Crider clearly have similar tastes. I love the covers on both Chaber books!

Tanner said...

Thanks for the review, Bish! I've always loved the McGinnis covers and wondered about the books themselves. Sounds worth a read, even if it's nothing too special. And, yes, worth having for the covers alone...