Understudy for Love.
Newsstand Library #U170.Chicago: Newsstand Library Inc., 1961 Stock Code: 144847
First edition, first printing, of Willeford's sixth pulp work, featuring a striking cover typical of the influential paperback artist Robert Bonfils's designs, this copy in uncommonly bright condition. Bonfils (1922-2018) studied at the Kansas City Art Institute alongside artists such as Jackson Pollock and his erotic cover illustrations were a blueprint for future pulp fiction imagery.
Understudy for Love is an erotic crime novel in which a reporter for a Florida newspaper is assigned to investigate a dramatic local murder-suicide case. "While Understudy surely must be read as domestic suspense rather than hard-boiled crime fiction, it shows an early attempt by Willeford (1919-1988) to develop an understated, rather hard-edged male protagonist" (McCann). This was developed in Willeford's later Hoke Moseley novels starting with Miami Blues in 1984. Understudy for Love was rereleased for the first time since this edition as Understudy for Death in 2018.
Octavo. Original illustrated wrappers by Robert Bonfils, titles to spine and front cover in white and yellow, edges orange.
Minor rubbing to spine ends and very tips, hint of creasing to rear panel edges, smudge from printing process to inside front cover; a beautiful unread copy in near-fine condition.
Michael J. McCann, Review of Understudy for Death, New York Journal of Books, retrieved 16/11/2020; Lee Server, Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers, p. 271.
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