Created by William Wall
Well, here’s a private eye paperback with a cover swiped from another publisher, written by an author that nobody seems to know anything about.
So it’s probably a lost masterpiece, right?
The book is Wake Up Dead (1974), and it follows TONY BOYLE, whose one-man detective agency–despite his extravagant lifestyle–is slowly circling the drain. Desperate for funds, he takes on the “cushy” case of Marsha Vickers, your standard-issue femme fatale, who wants Tony to find her wealthy Uncle Johnny, the beneficiary of a humongous trust fund who hasn’t been seen for several days.
But it’s soon revealed that poor Uncle Johnny’s been kidnapped, and that the ransom is a relatively paltry $25,000. Marsha manages to cough up the dough (she has to get it from the trust), and her uncle is promptly released, but Boyle begins to suspect some sort of scam.
And when Boyle starts to ask questions, things get complicated.
Although perhaps not as complicated as figuring out what the hell the cover has to do with the book. There is no boat in Wake Up Dead. There is no randy sea captain. There is no babe wearing half a bikini.
The illustration (artist unknown, of course) was swiped from a completely different P.I. novel (Logan), written by a completely different author (Alan Joseph), and published by a completely different publisher (Belmont). Although you’ve got to admire the cheeky audacity of Wake Up Dead‘s publisher, Papillon Books, a short-lived publishing house from the seventies that issued a little bit of everything, from sci-fi and mystery to sleaze and soft-core porn, and then promptly vanished. Hell, they didn’t even bother to airbrush out the name of the boat off the stern.
Mind you, there may be even less known about the author than his publisher. William Wall may have (or may not have) written only one more book, Devils in Candy Houses, also published by Papillon, also in 1974.
- “Like all good crime stories, there are gambling debts, an enforcer and pages upon pages of clues for the determined reader to work through before the solution is revealed. The punch-line wasn’t overly original, but it was probably entertaining enough to satisfy fans of Carter Brown’s whodunits. If that’s the caliber of mystery you enjoy, you may like Wake Up Dead. If you demand more from your crime fiction, you can safely skip this largely derivative effort.”
— The Paperback Warrior (May 2019)
- Wake Up Dead (1974) | Buy this book