Book Covers (Part 2)



Welcome to the Art of Desmond Cory - a history of his novels as portrayed through the book covers

The 1970s continued Desmond Cory's focus away from the espionage novel (as characterised through his fictional hero Johnny Fedora) to the pschological thriller. In an interview, Cory admitted that " I donít know that I ever got tired of him (Fedora), but round about 1970 I came to the conclusion that the kind of story he had to get involved in was being James-Bonded out of existence and that the general public were getting a surfeit of it". Cory consequentially experimented with a number of different novels, including Nighthawk, which went on to win the Crime Critics Choice of the Year award.

Much to the regret of many of his readers, Cory also completed Johnny Fedora's last assignment in 1971 with the publication of Sunburst. Like many covers of its day, the design for it's first hard-back edition (Hodder & Stoughton, London) was rather surreal.
Throughout the 1970s, Cory continued to experiment with his novels, dabbling into many different genres. A humorous detective story featuring an inane wizard (in Stumblebum the Wizard), a parodic version of Hamlet (in Lucky Ham), all displayed Cory's rich and skillful writing abilities. Yet his greatest success during this period came in 1975 with The Circe Complex. With cover art from Wendell Minor (USA edition), the novel went on to win the Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Year. Following Thames Television's decision to televise the book as a 6 part "Armchair Thriller" series, the novel was later republished in 1980 using images from the TV series for its cover.
In the late 70s, the author turned to writing academic books rather than fictional novels. In 1977 he gained a Doctorate in English Literature, and (using his real name) wrote a number of articles and books on a variety of works ranging from a study of Virginia Woolf to Robert Firbank. That same year, Bennet was published. It was to be his last novel for the next 12 years.

The 1980s was very much a dry period as far as the publication of Desmond Cory's fictional novels was concerned. Instead, the author continued with a number of different academic publications, and his desire to experiment with new types of fiction never diminished. He completed a number of unpublished novels (The Caligula Conspiracy, and On The Gulf) that just did not interest the publishers. The Song of Fariq, a short story in The Mystery Guild Anthology, was one of the few fictional works to be published at this time.. Meanwhile, American publishers (Walker) continued to republish several of his earlier novels.

It was not to be until the early 1990s that new fictional novels from Cory were published again. Described by the critics as the "near-perfect puzzler, written with intelligence and laced with wit." (Publishers Weekly 1992), Cory introduced us to the "offbeat, funny, and ingenious" new serial character, Prof. John Dobie, an absent-minded Maths professor with a tendency to find murder far too occasionally.

Cory was to have 3 books published under this new serial character. While Cory's UK publishers (Macmillan) used photograpic cover designs for the hardback versions, the publishers PAN used more artisitic and interesting designs for the paperpack version of Dobie's first novel The Strange Attractor.Cory's US publishers (St. Martin's Press) also went for more beautifully illustrated designs, this time by Paul Cozzolino.

The Dobie Paradox (1994) was to be Cory's last published novel while he was alive. In his last years Cory 's fading eye-sight and general health limited him, althought the author went on to complete a number of hand-written manuscripts which to this day await publication Interest in his novels have continued to this day, and in 2011 his books were published again, both in print and through new media such as audiobooks and ebooks.

Ana Grigoriu designed the 60th anniversary edition of Secret Ministry, published first in 2011. Since then Ostara have republished Overload, and Fedora novels have been published on Amazon Kindle.

For more information, take the Virtual Tour of Desmond Cory in books, film and television:

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