Any aficionado of the golden age of British paperback crime thrillers (specifically, that is, the British imitations of the tough, sexy American genre) will be familiar with the eye-catching work of the illustrator Reginald Heade. His sultry temptresses — usually wearing abbreviated dresses, lingerie or nothing at all — danced just this side of censor-baiting, and decorated the covers of many titles by authors such as the hardboiled Hank Janson. In fact, Heade’s prolific work — as this sumptuous, large format volume demonstrates — has a real period charm. The bee-stung lips, impossible waists and gravity defying (bit not unfeasible) breasts on offer here are dated in rather charming fashion; ironically, there is a certain sense of propriety about them (despite the upsets they often provoked among moral guardians) when set against the more opulent seductresses of the American bobs models they imitated. Other aspects of the artist’s career are celebrated here, such as his gritty, tough male-centric thrillers– and even if you have the original Hank Johnson paperbacks issued by Telos, this is a cherishable volume.

The Art of Reginald Heade by Stephen James Walker is published by Telos


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