The Cover Art of Dell Shannon, Part 1

So my father-in-law, knowing I like mysteries, has loaned me his entire collection of Dell Shannon mysteries. Dell Shannon, not be confused with Del Shannon ("I'm a-walkin' in the rain...") is the pen name of one Elizabeth Linington. I guess I should say one of the pen names, as she wrote under several names including her own. All of the books written under the name Dell Shannon, though, are police procedurals featuring Lieutenant Luis Mendoza of the Los Angeles homicide department. They are good stories, well told, and were hot sellers in their day -- the series ran for nearly forty books, the first in 1960 and the last in 1986 -- but they are all but fogotten now.

Part of the fun for me, though, is the variety of cover art in my father-in-law's collection. He's bought every book in the series, although a couple have gone missing (a mystery in itself), and they are a motley crew, with first-edition hardbacks rubbing shoulders with mass-market paperback reprints. These covers are a good lesson in the history, good and bad, of American cover art. And so I present the first installment of: The Cover Art of Dell Shannon.

Unfortunately, the first four books (Case Pending, The Ace of Spades, Extra Kill, and Knave of Hearts) are in an omnibus book club edition that has lost its jacket. So we begin with book 5, Death of a Busybody.

Death of a Busybody

I like the cover on this mass-market reprint. I would have thought trying to shoot someone through a phone was impossible until I saw this (warning: comic gore). Seriously, though, this cover delivers the goods. It highlights important elements of the main crime (Mendoza stories always have several going on at once) without giving anything away. Get used to that quote from the Los Angeles Times -- it appears on many of the covers as a kind of generic blurb when they couldn't get a title-specific one.

And now we come to perhaps the low point of all Dell Shannon covers, Double Bluff.

Double Bluff

This is one of the better stories, but you wouldn't know it from this cover. Yipes. It's like they were about to send everything to the printer and then realized they forgot to make a cover. What about Jimmy the intern? Doesn't he know how to draw a little? Yes, a little, but he can't draw perspective or fit objects into space in any logical way. Everything he draws looks like it's slowly melting. Plus, he's never read the book -- best he can do is draw a vague bedroom scene that has nothing to do with anything. Sigh. Best we can do.

Next episode: Mark of Murder and Root of All Evil.


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I've just saw that the Polish edition of Think Like a Programmer is out:
Myśl jak programista. Techniki kreatywnego rozwiązywania problemów. Which apparently just means Think like a programmer: creative problem-solving techniques. Can't argue with that.

I don't have a copy yet to check out, but here's the cover from the publisher web site.

It can be yours for only 49 Zloty -- a little more than $16. As someone with a great admiration for improperly named Polish-American insurance investigators, I'm excited about this Polish edition. I was also pleased to see this reader review on the publisher site:

Świetna książka, w bardzo przystępny sposób przedstawia strategie radzenia sobie z problemami programistycznymi. Polecam.

Which according to Google translate, means:

A great book, in a very accessible manner the strategies for dealing with the problems of programming. I would recommend.

Thank you very much, "Pawel C," and best wishes in your studies.



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Think Like a Programmer: Now in Japanese!

The Japanese translation of Think Like a Programmer is now available, published by ASCII Media Works. It's really cool to see my work in translation, unfortunately, unlike the German edition, I don't even know a smattering of Japanese.

Japanese TLAP (small)

According to Google Translate, the title says:

Let's forge problem-solving skills

Book concept of programmer the body gets more interesting!

For some reason I think that translation may be inaccurate. I'm also curious about the last chapter, in which I bring all of the concepts together in an example program that cheats at the childhood game Hangman. It's occurred to me that it would be very difficult to play Hangman in a language where character symbols tend to represent whole words rather than component sounds. It appears that the Japanese edition is describing the Hangman game as played in English. I hope that Japanese readers can follow that discussion without too much trouble. If you speak Japanese and pick up the book, please let me know how you like it!


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More Think Like a Programmer Videos

I had some audio problems with the first videos I posted on YouTube. They played perfectly on my end, but after whatever conversion performed by the YouTube uploader, the audio would drift more and more out of sync. Super annoying, especially since I was using "recommended" settings for my video prior to upload. I went through dozens of combinations of file formats, video and audio codecs, sample rate, and so on, until I found one that would play the same after uploading. unfortunately it's not one natively supported by the video editor I am using, so there's an extra step. But at least the videos play correctly now.

On the good news front, I have three new videos for helping people solve programming problems. The first two deal with a problem from a programming contest--these contests are great sources of problem-solving exercises.

The other one is about using spreadsheet designs as a way to develop programming solutions and problem-solving ability in general. Sounds odd, I know. But it works. Check it out:



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Hello, Disqus

I've decided to switch to Disqus for comments on this site. I've gotten more than a little tired of all the spammers trying to create accounts, bots with fantastic names such as drugs4less, fred945willaams45, and qoxmncberuy. I'm going to be making an effort to post more often on my side, and hopefully this will increase audience participation.

Please let me know if you have any trouble attempting to comment using Disqus. I looked into Facebook comments, which I think would reduce spam even more, but there were a lot more hoops to jump through, and unlike Disqus, there is no direct Drupal integration.

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