Billion-Dollar Brain by Len Deighton
Billion-Dollar Brain
by Len Deighton

Book club editions often receive short shrift from booksellers and collectors. Written off as mass market reprints, they are very low on the literary pecking order. But consider the Companion Book Club for a moment… if only for the feast of beautiful cover art that is displayed on this page.

Hitler: A Study in Tyranny by Alan Bullock

The Companion Book Club – operated by a firm called Odhams - reprinted much fiction and non-fiction worth a second look during the 1960s and the early 1970s, and earned a significant following among readers in Britain. Thrillers, mysteries and modern adventure novels were the Club’s staple fodder. Books from Len Deighton, Alistair MacLean, Victor Canning and Ngaio Marsh were extremely popular with its members.

The artwork for Companion Book Club editions can be divided into two styles. The dramatic illustrations on muted pastel colors seen on this page and checked patterns also in pastel colors (see the example right).

Many fine illustrators produced dust jacket artwork for the Companion Book Club, including Roger Payne, Mike Charlton, Barry Wilkinson and Roger Micklewright. Much of the jacket artwork has a real ‘Sixties’ theme in its style.

Fifty years later, books issued by the Companion Book Club are as cheap as chips. The most expensive copy on AbeBooks is under $100 and there are hundreds of copies priced at a few dollars plus shipping.

 

A Selection of Companion Book Club Editions

Snatch! By Rennie Airth
Snatch!
By Rennie Airth

Incompetent villains kidnap a financier’s child.
Two Under the Indian Sun by Jon & Rumer Godden
Two Under the Indian Sun
by Jon & Rumer Godden

A memoir from two sisters about their childhood in India under the Raj.
A Fighting Chance by John Ridgway & Chay Blyth
A Fighting Chance
by John Ridgway & Chay Blyth

Non-fiction. An account of a dramatic voyage of 92 days in an open boat from Cape Cod to Ireland.
Sea and Islands by Hammond Innes
Sea and Islands
by Hammond Innes

Innes always spent two months of the year at sea. This is a record of those journeys.
An Expensive Place to Die by Len Deighton
An Expensive Place to Die
by Len Deighton

A novel about a CIA operation to leak classified information on nuclear fall-out to the Chinese.
Hunting the Desert Whale by Erle Stanley Gardener
Hunting the Desert Whale
by Erle Stanley Gardener

An account of Gardener's efforts to photograph whales and his explorations of Baja California
Venus with Pistol by Gavin Lyall
Venus with Pistol
by Gavin Lyall

A suspense novel about a wealthy South American widow putting together an art collection in Europe.
I Come From the Stone Age by Heinrich Harrer
I Come From the Stone Age
by Heinrich Harrer

Explorer/mountaineer writes about his travels in Dutch New Guinea and its natives.
Puppet on a Chain by Alistair MacLean
Puppet on a Chain
by Alistair MacLean

A drug-themed thriller set in Amsterdam. An Interpol agent is on the case with two assistants.
Landslide by Desmond Bagley
Landslide
by Desmond Bagley

A geologist in British Columbia has no recollection of a terrible car crash but then his memory is jogged.
The Hunter and the Whale by Laurens Van Der Post
The Hunter and the Whale
by Laurens Van Der Post

A novel about rival whalers competing off the east coast of Africa.
The Us or Them War by William Garner
The Us or Them War
by William Garner

Suspense thriller where Britain develops a non-nuclear weapon. Jacket by Mike Charlton.
Force 10 from Navarone by Alistair MacLean
Force 10 from Navarone
by Alistair MacLean

A rip-roaring sequel to The Guns of Navarone with a great dam-busting conclusion.
The Lovely Sergeant by Alan Burgess
The Lovely Sergeant
by Alan Burgess

The true story of Flora Sandes, an English parson’s daughter who fought in the Serbian Army in WWI.
The Mercenaries by John Harris
The Mercenaries
by John Harris

A novel of fighter planes and pilots for hire and Chinese warlords.
To Risks Unknown by Douglas Reeman
To Risks Unknown
by Douglas Reeman

A WWII naval adventure set in the German occupied Adriatic Islands. Mike Charlton jacket.
Blood Sport by Dick Francis
Blood Sport
by Dick Francis

One of Francis’ finest thrillers. Mike Charlton dust jacket. A Derby winner goes missing in Kentucky.
Race of the Tiger by Alexander Cordell
Race of the Tiger
by Alexander Cordell

A novel where an Irish family flees to the New World – Cordell’s real name was George Alexander Graber.
Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
Where Eagles Dare
by Alistair MacLean

One of MacLean’s best novels – adventure and trickery in World War II.
The Spoilers by Desmond Bagley
The Spoilers
by Desmond Bagley

An adventure novel where a tycoon tries to avenge his daughter’s death from a heroin overdose.
A Flight of Chariots by Jon Cleary
A Flight of Chariots
by Jon Cleary

A thriller set against the background of the Korean War and the Berlin airlift. Jacket by Roger Payne.
All Men Are Lonely Now by Francis Clifford
All Men Are Lonely Now
by Francis Clifford

A Cold War thriller about laser missiles. Artwork by Roger Payne.
Travels of Capitalist Lackey by Fred Basnet
Travels of Capitalist Lackey
by Fred Basnet

Non-fiction. Two men journey across Soviet Russia in a vintage car.
The Side of the Angels by John Rowan Wilson
The Side of the Angels
by John Rowan Wilson

A story of loyalties torn between love, country and science. Barry Wilkinson jacket.
Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh
Clutch of Constables
by Ngaio Marsh

A Roderick Alleyn murder mystery. Jacket by Roger Micklewright.
The Three Daughters of Madame Liang by Pearl S Buck
The Three Daughters of Madame Liang
by Pearl S Buck

A novel. Madame Liang runs a restaurant in Chairman Mao’s China. Buck spent her childhood in China.
The Etruscan Net by Michael Gilbert
The Etruscan Net
by Michael Gilbert

A Mafia crime thriller set in Florence where an English academic owns a bookshop.
The Melting Man by Victor Canning
The Melting Man
by Victor Canning

A crime thriller that begins with the disappearance of a Mercedes. Roger Payne artwork.
Corridors of Power by C.P. Snow
Corridors of Power
by C.P. Snow

A political novel set in the 1950s from the Strangers and Brothers series.
Fiona by Catherine Gaskin
Fiona
by Catherine Gaskin

Jacket by Ronald Atkinson. Set in 1833 in the West Indies – voodoo and adventure.
The Whip Hand by Victor Canning
The Whip Hand
by Victor Canning

A Rex Carver thriller full of adventure and beautiful blondes. Mike Charlton artwork.
This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
This Rough Magic
by Mary Stewart

A disastrous West End debut sends a young actress to Corfu where she encounters a mystery.
The Jealous God by John Braine
The Jealous God
by John Braine

A novel set in northern England where a man plans to become a priest.
Fruit of the Poppy by Robert Wilder
Fruit of the Poppy
by Robert Wilder

Roger Payne dust jacket. A tale of drug dealers and the agents tracking them down.
The Man in the Mirror by Frederick Ayer
The Man in the Mirror
by Frederick Ayer

A Cold War thriller where the Russians attempt to penetrate the US president’s inner circle.

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