Even fifty years ago the marketing department of the book world was in full swing. Take, for example, the cover of A Reader's Respite's vintage paperback of James Cain's classic noir tale, The Postman Always Rings Twice:
Published in the late 1940's by Pocket Books, the art department came up with a drawing of the femme fatale Cora as a sultry blond bombshell.
Nevermind that the Cora that Cain created has black, curly hair and a darker complexion....so much so that by only page three, she's lashing out because people might think her Mexican.
Of course, it's worth noting that the first hit film version of Cain's classic, featuring the sex-pot and couldn't-be-blonder-if-she-tried Lana Turner, had been released the year prior to the Pocket Books' edition and was a big influence on the cover art.
Bad cover or no, this short novel that packs a huge punch is still worth picking up even today. Despite gallant attempts, no filmmaker could ever convey the sheer psychological twisted-ness (is that a word? it is now.) of drifter Frank Chamber and waitress Cora Papadakis as they plot and scheme to do away with Cora's poor husband, Nick.
That Cain could manage to build such an incredible amount of tension and bring it to such an explosive and tragic ending in just 121 pages is nothing short of genius.
Worth a read folks, if you ever come across an old copy somewhere.