NB: Featured as one of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.
In the unlikely event that there's anyone out there eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the Great Tom Ripley Reread, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a while longer yet: for some reason I'm finding the fourth book in the series, The Boy Who Followed Ripley, heavy going. Nothing to do with the novel itself – at least, I don't think it is; I suspect I'm just a bit burned out with the intensive reading and note-taking those Ripley posts have ended up requiring. Anyway, the net result is that the next essay probably won't appear until the end of next week at the earliest, so you'll just have to make do with some more Denis McLoughlin-designed T. V. Boardman dust jackets in the meantime.
Speaking of which, let's have a look at the third Boardman Bloodhound I bought off book dealer Jamie Sturgeon:
The Siamese Coup Affair by Sidney Weintraub, published in the UK by T. V. Boardman in 1963, #447 in Boardman's American Bloodhound Mystery line. So far as I've been able to establish, this is one of only two novels Weintraub published, the other being Mexican Slay Ride, issued by Abelard-Schuman and Robert Hale the year before in 1962. But though Weintraub seems to have written just the two works of fiction, he has, I believe, and if I've got my facts right – so take the following with a pinch of salt – penned a hell of a lot of non-fiction. Indeed, it's for works like* his 1959 debut Price Theory (*like, but actually not; see comments) and a succession of other books on finance and free trade that he's rather better known, as well as for being a former William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and a former member of the US Foreign Service.
Of course, that could be an entirely different Weintraub – except for two things. 1) Weintraub the economist is evidently something of an expert on Mexico, so his having also written a thriller titled Mexican Slay Ride isn't entirely outside the realms of possibility; and 2) the 1964 Catalog of Copyright Entries lists both the novel The Siamese Coup Affair and the non-fiction work Intermediate Price Theory under Weintraub's name.
So, in attempt to discover if Sidney Weintraub the thriller writer and Sidney Weintraub the economist are one and the same, I've taken the fairly radical step of trying to contact Mr. Weintraub. I'm not overly confident that I'll hear anything back, but if I do, I'll be sure to update this post.
UPDATE, 19/3/13: Sidney Weintraub's son, Jeff, kindly emailed me the other day confirming that they are indeed one and the same – and not to be confused with the other Sidney Weintraub. Thanks, Jeff!
Perhaps even more intriguing and curious than all of that, however, is this: while The Siamese Coup Affair was published by T. V. Boardman (apparently its only printing), Weintraub's 1962 (presumed) debut novel, Mexican Slay Ride, was published, as mentioned above, by Abelard-Schuman in the States and Robert Hale in the UK. But in 1961, the year before that, Boardman itself published a novel titled Mexican Slayride (two words rather than three, note), by Boardman mainstay Thomas B. Dewey (actually retitled from its original US Dell appearance as The Golden Hooligan). Moreover, in 1962, the same year as the Weintraub Mexican Slay Ride, Gold Medal in the States published a novel titled – you guessed it – Mexican Slay Ride, this one by Neil MacNeil, alias W. T. Ballard.
Three different novels, all titled Mexican Slay Ride (or Slayride), all appearing in the space of two years: what the hell's that all about? What was the weird fascination with that title? I must admit I'm unfamiliar with either a Mexican slay ride or if it is, as it appears to be, a play on words, a Mexican sleigh ride, although I'm assuming in this context it's nothing to do with any of these practices. Furthermore, whether or not these three novels were an influence on either the American title of this film or the pilot of The A-Team is also beyond my ken, although given that A-Team co-creator and writer Frank Lupo is a keen collector of crime and spy fiction, one never knows. Answers to any of the above on a postcard, please.
Anyway, back to The Siamese Coup Affair. And while Denis McLoughlin's dust jacket for the book isn't one of his more striking efforts, for me it's possessed of a quiet appeal. Certainly it's good enough to join its brethren in the Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery – and I've another couple of McLoughlins waiting to follow in its footsteps. Because while The Siamese Coup Affair is the last of the Boardmans I bought off Jamie Sturgeon, it's not the last of the Boardmans I've acquired of late...