29 May 2011

Six Pyxides for Sunday

Six editions of The Pyx, beginning with the very first paperback edition from Fawcett's Crest Books imprint. Published in 1960, its cover – the best of the lot – cautions:

A mystery this – the first edition has no such section.

The first English edition, published in 1960 by Secker & Warburg, with Elizabeth Lucy falling to her death.

Published in 1973, the first Popular Library edition draws on the movie poster. Karen Black makes a phone call, yes, but it's hardly crucial to the plot.
"The 'eerie' novel of a beautiful call girl and her deadly secret", says Best Sellers? Well, not really. Look closely and you'll see that what's quoted is nothing more than the word "eerie".

This later Popular Library edition holds keeps the one-word Best Sellers quote, while discarding Karen Black. What do we have instead? A semi-reptilian eye and a wholly-naked body, neither of which feature in the novel. By the way, Elizabeth Lucy is a redhead.

Quartet's 1974 edition introduces a cat – again, not in the novel – and replaces the pyx with a tiny locket containing a girl's photo and what appears to be an aspirin.

The only Canadian edition, published in 1991 by HarperCollins Canada. The novel has been out of print ever since.


  1. The first one has art work by Barye Phillips, a prolific cover artist for Gold Medal and other US paperback publishers. I agree it's best one. There's something intriguing and subtly sinister about the last one with that shadow of the gent in the hat.

  2. One of the things I like so much about the first cover is the back. The very same blinds, but Elizabeth Lucy is gone. What's more, Phillips is faithful to the novel.

    The last was part of a uniform series that featured Buell's five novels. Who knows what the print runs were - I don't think I saw more than one or two, despite living in Montreal at the time.

  3. Haven't checked in to your blog for a while. Opened it just now to find this...Weird part about it all, I actually watched the movie last week!...Originally saw it on TV when I was a teenager. Got released in some cheapie DVD box-set under the name of "The Hooker Cult Murders."

    JAW fan

  4. Should have scrolled down further before commenting...More on "The Pyx" and "The Hooker Cult Murders" below.

    Granted not a very good movie...but I like Karen Black.

    Nashville, Airport '75, Family Plot, It's Alive III, Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses...all of them classics!!!

    JAW fan

  5. I just saw the movie for a second time myself - I'm betting within days of you. Jotted down my thoughts here, but should add that I thought Karen Black was very good, as was Christopher Plummer.  

  6. I love Karen Black as well--FIVE EASY PIECES! CISCO PIKE! DAY OF THE LOCUST!--but I could only watch a few moments of that YouTube vid of the movie, alas. Those covers, whether accurate to the novel itself or not, are quite striking. I really do need to own a copy of the Popular Library edition!

    1. I've been keeping an eye out for any and all, Will, only to be disappointed. It's a curious thing that even in Montreal these aren't to be found. There's always the internet, I suppose, but I do love the thrill of the chase.