Bit of a lengthy, cumbersome title for this post, but I sometimes have to search this blog myself to find book covers and whatnot, and it makes life easier if the titles of the posts bear some relation to what's in 'em. And it only took me till now to work that out. Sigh. Anyway, let's have a look-see at the two books Mr. Postman brought me over the weekend – both of which I bought online for the princely sum of a fiver apiece:
That's a UK first edition of Donald E. Westlake's The Spy in the Ointment, published in hardback by T. V. Boardman in 1967 (originally published in the States in 1966). The wrapper is by Martin Pickwick – it's the same illustration as the US Random House edition I believe. I was actually surprised by how cheap this was; there aren't many copies of this edition online, and this one's in good condition; the jacket's a little rubbed, and the folds at the jacket spine are weakening a bit, but I've put it in a protective cover now so it should be OK. The Spy in the Ointment is, I think, Westlake's take on the kinds of spy novels that were big in the 1960s (Bond, Modesty Blaise etc.), and having read a few of those, it'll be interesting to see what Westlake does with the form.
The other new arrival was this:
A UK first edition of Joe Gores' Final Notice, published in hardback by Victor Gollancz in 1974 (originally published by Random House in the US in 1973). This is the second of Gores' DKA (Dan Kearney & Associates) mysteries; regular readers might recall my recent rant about his first DKA novel, Dead Skip. This one is in mint condition – it looks absolutely unread, and is so clean and bright it could've rolled off the presses yesterday. Smashing.
In other thrilling book news, I picked this up in a charity shop in Brighton at the weekend:
A battered old Penguin paperback of Chandler's The Long Good-Bye. It's actually the 1959 first Penguin printing, but it's really rather tatty, as you can see. Still, it's readable enough, and I've been wanting to see how Chandler stacks up against the likes of Westlake and Peter Rabe.
Speaking of whom, I finished Dig My Grave Deep, which I really dug (deep). It kept me guessing right up till the finish how Daniel Port's quest to escape the clutches of the mob would end, and now I can't wait to read the next Port tale, The Out is Death. I also polished off Peter O'Donnell's first Modesty Blaise novel, which was a solid spy thriller. What really worked for me were O'Donnell's characterisations: it's true that Modesty herself and Willie Garvin don't quite shake off their comic strip origins, but British secret service head Tarrant and his deputy Fraser are deliciously realised, the latter taking a pervy pleasure in his work. The interplay between those two really zings; hopefully we'll see a lot more of them in the next Modesty novel, Sabre-Tooth.
But before I get to that, next up I'm reading Patricia Highsmith's The Glass Cell and Richard Stark's The Green Eagle Score. I'm only a few pages into the former, but already it's quite different to a lot of other Highsmiths, set, as it is, in a US prison. As for Green Eagle, I'll be starting that today. Always good to get back to the Parkers...