Saturday, July 30, 2011
Book Buying Binge
So....the Caveat Emptor, a local rare and used bookstore, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend and giving customers a 20% discount. I couldn't pass that up. AND the owner had just hauled out a bunch of "new" vintage mysteries from the back room. New to the store anyway. I came home with quite an armload. Here we go...
Compartment K by Helen Reilly(original pub date 1955): It had been planned, everybody thought, as a family weekend. The Canadian Rockies, a lodge--it was something to look forward to. Until an uninvited guest became part of the group. A man of mystery. A stranger. But there was no mystery about this: as the miles faded, a killer stalked the night and the stranger became a corpse. And he was, it turned out, not such a stranger after all....
Death Demands an Audience by Helen Reilly (orig. pub date 1940): The murderer wasn't shy. One victim was killed in a department store window. Another died before the startled eyes of a policeman on guard duty. The third breathed his last in a crowd coming out of a theater. Then the murderer tried the boldest move of all--with Inspector McKee as the intended victim.
The Lady in the Morgue by Jonathan Latimer (orig. pub date1936; my find--a pocket-size edition by Pocket Books 1944): Murder, murder--who's got the body? A lively mystery story that revolves around the cadaver of an unidentified, nude blonde found hanging from her own bathroon door. The corpse disappears, a morgue attendant dies, then a left-handed undertaker. A coffin is dug up--and found empty. And William Crane--alcoholic Private Detective--visits a taxi dance hall, steals twenty dresses, and then stands in (or lies in) for a stiff on a slab in the morgue.
Avon Mystery Story Teller by various authors (pub date 1946; Avon pocket size edition!): a collection of stories by Mignon G. Eberhart, William Irish, Agatha Christie, Craig Rice, Margery Allingham, John Dickson Carr, Edgar Wallace, & others.
The Widows of Broome by Arthur W. Upfield(orig. pub date 1950): Broome is a little, sun-drenched town on the barren northwest coast of Australia--the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else's business. How then did someone murder Broome's two most attractive widows and get away without leaving a clue?
Death at the Medical Board by Josephine Bell (orig. pub date 1944): It was wartime and Ursula Finton wanted to join some branch of the women's services so she could "do her bit." But her family had always said that she had "heart trouble" and she was worried about passing the medical exam. So, she had a London specialist give her a thorough exam and a paper stating in no uncertain terms that her heart was perfectly sound and always had been. Ursula figured she could sort it out later. But someone at the medical board was ready for her. Poor Ursula.
Bones in the Barrow by Josephine Bell (orig. pub date 1953): In the swirling London fog, dimly seen through dirty train windows, a young man witnesses what he believes to be a murder. Understandably, he is reluctant to make a fool of himself. Nevertheless he does eventually tell his story to the police. They find nothing. But later--much later--when spring has cleared away the fogs of winter and workmen are up on a certain roof repairing clogged gutters, they find some bones--the small delicate bones of a woman's hand...
Beware of Trains by Edmund Crispin (orig. pub date 1962): 16 short stories (all but two with Gervase Fen). These stories will test your crime-solving abilities. Crispin has provided all the clues you need to detect the solution, using logic and common sense. Can you meet the challenge?
The Red Lamp by Mary Roberts Rinehart (orig. pub date 1925): Jane wanted to leave Twin Towers the moment she arrived. She had a strange feeling about the old mansion, a chilling apprehension of doom that followed her through the creaking halls like a death shadow. The others thought her fears were groundless--until they felt the evil iridescence of the Red Lamp, and realized how terrifyingly right she was!
The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart (orig. pub date 1906): The first time Lawrence Blakely saw Alison West was in a photo. Her face was angelic, her eyes shining, her lips softly smiling. The next time he saw her was on an express racing through the night. She was the same girl--yet totally different, her face pale, her eyes darting evasively, her mouth drawn tight. Something evil hovered about this beautiful girl But did it come from within her, or without? Lawrence Blakely had to find out...
The Black Seven by Carol Kendall (1st edition hardback!! 1946): Drawers Random (christened Roderick because his father was obsessed by Smollet) was precocious beyond his twelve years. Drawers preferred the Gashouse, his secret lair where he could drink his beer in peace, to the literary gloom of the Random house. From beer and pulp magazines it was easy for Drawers to step into the realm of murder detective when things began to happen to his neighbors, the Twiggs.
These two by Thomson are not vintage mysteries (by my definition), but Thomson is a favorite author anyway. Inspector Finch goes by the name Inspector Rudd in American editions.
Shadow of a Doubt by June Thomson (orig. pub date 1981): Hawton Hall is an exclusive private clinic, presided over by the charismatic and ambitious Dr. Howard Jordan. Autocratic and unbending he may be, but the women on his staff revere him for his brisk professionalism...and perhaps more. For his timid, grey wife, however, he has little time to spare. To her he is abrupt, intolerant, even in public. No one is much surprised when one day Clair Jordan leaves the Hall and does not return. She has left him at last they exclaim, intrigued. Yet why should this event--surely a routine matter for the village bobby--come to Detective Chief Inspector Finch's attention at regional HQ.
To Make a Killing by June Thomson (orig pub date 1982): Bedridden, impoverished and almost forgotten, Max Gifford is at the end of his career as a painter. Only the loving care of his wife--a woman young enough to be his daughter--prevents him sinking into cynical despair. But then the owner of a smart London gallery proposes a major exhibition of his work, a suggestion to which Max and his wife readily agree. Here at last is their passport to fame and fortune--until a brutal murder puts an end to their dreams.
And one book from the Friends of the Library Bookstore:
Murder by 14 (ed by David C. Cooke): 14 great authors choose their best stories. Includes stories by Lawrence G Blochman, Leslie Charteris, Octavus Roy Cohen, Mignon G Eberhart, Frank Guber, Vincent Starrett, John & Ward Hopkins, Stuart Palmer, Q. Patrick, Hugh Pentecost, Ellery Queen, Craig Rice and Sax Rohmer.