Friday 20 September 2013

Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer in The Zebra-Striped Hearse (Collins, 1963; a Clare, Suffolk Score), plus The Moving Target and The Drowning Pool

NB: Linked in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

Let's take a look at the final book I bought on – or, more accurately, at the tail end of, and even more precisely, during the journey back from – my (and Rachel and little Edie's) summer holiday to Suffolk:

A British first edition of The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross Macdonald, published in hardback by Collins in 1963 (the year after the US Knopf first), with a dust jacket designed by Barbara Walton – now added to the Existential Ennui Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery. I found this copy in the impressive books department of Clare Antiques & Interiors in the Suffolk village of, er, Clare, and bought it for four quid – an excellent price given that there are only half a dozen or so copies of the Collins first for sale online at present, a few of them ex-library or lacking their jackets and a couple of them priced around the fifty quid mark (with shipping).

The Zebra-Striped Hearse is the tenth novel in Macdonald's eighteen-book series starring PI Lew Archer, a well-regarded entry – see this Tipping My Fedora review and this Mystery*File one – in what is a highly regarded series. I myself have blogged about Macdonald and Archer before, specifically this:

The 1966 Fontana paperback movie tie-in edition (i.e. to the Jack Smight-directed, William Goldman-scripted, Paul Newman-starring Harper) of the first Lew Archer outing, The Moving Target, which was originally published in 1949 under the author name of John Macdonald – both Macdonalds being aliases of Kenneth Millar. Indeed, the ensuing few Lew Archer novels were credited to John Ross Macdonald in the early years of the series (it wasn't until the sixth book, The Barbarous Coast, 1956, that Millar became simply Ross Macdonald), as evidenced by this:

A 1951 US Pocket Books first paperback printing of the second Lew Archer novel, The Drowning Pool (originally published in hardback by Knopf in 1950), the opening page of which, incidentally, boasts more memorable lines than most novels can muster in their entirety. ("Everybody hates detectives and dentists. We hate them back." "Her face was clear and brown. I wondered if she was clear and brown all over."). I won this copy on eBay just the other day, for a few quid; the cover art is by Ray App, about whom I can find very little online (he's a bugger to google); the only other cover credits of his I've come across are for the 1951 Pocket edition of David Goodis' Of Missing Persons; the 1952 Uni-Book edition of Semple Gordon's Resort Hostess; and the 1963 Perma printing of Richard Dougherty's Duggan.

Speaking of cover artists, the acquisition of the Collins edition of The Zebra-Striped Hearse reminds me that I have some other books sporting Barbara Walton dust jackets I've not yet blogged about or added to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s, plus one by her sister Eileen as well. So those will be up next.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Secondhand Book Fairs and Shops of Suffolk: Long Melford and Clare, Guest-Starring John Gardner and Boysie Oakes

Ever been on one of those holidays where it goes on a bit too long and you're kind of glad when it's over? Well, I didn't necessarily feel that way about mine and Rachel and little Edie's week-long summer holiday to Suffolk, despite it not being as relaxing as I'd hoped (partly the consequence, I guess, of going away with a three-and-a-half-month-old baby, although we also, I think, at my insistence, tried to do too much); but I – and very probably you – do feel that way about the ensuing over-a-week's worth of blog posts about that holiday and the secondhand bookshops we visited and the books I bought in them.

Thankfully, we're nearly done now – just the journey home to address, which, true to form, involved not only a few bookshops but a book fair too: the Long Melford Book Fair, which just so happened to be taking place on the day we were travelling, sort of en route, in, you guessed it, the Suffolk village of Long Melford. We spent a jolly hour there:

and even had lunch there (local sausage, chips and beans for me, jacket potato for Rachel, milk for Edie), and both Edie and I came away with a book:

In her case Enid Blyton's second Noddy outing, Hurrah for Little Noddy, and in my case, plucked from a cardboard box of books priced at a pound a go, this:

A first edition of The Airline Pirates by John Gardner, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1970, dust jacket design by Peter Cope. Gardner is best-known for his James Bond novels, but he wrote lots of other books besides, including an eight-book series starring reluctant British Intelligence assassin Boysie Oakes, of which The Airline Pirates is the seventh instalment. I took a look at the first instalment, The Liquidator (1964), back in 2010, and in the interim have come into possession of a few other first editions:

most of which I picked up in one fell swoop in the Pantiles Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells during a visit there a year or two ago. Which means I only have two books in the series left to collect – but all of them still to read. (A recurring problem chez Jones.)

From Long Melford we made our way to our final stop, the nearby village of Clare, where I'd read there was not only a good secondhand bookshop but an antiques centre with an excellent books section too. The bookshop, Harris & Harris, turned out to be a very nice one:

with a mixture of new and secondhand books, including a great children's section and a good holding of first editions and crime fiction, but although I spied a run of Anthony Price firsts, in the end there was nothing for me. So we headed down to Clare Antiques & Interiors, a huge place spread across four floors, the books section on the second floor being quite something, especially for those with an interest in real-life espionage:

That's just an indication of the extent of the espionage stock, which fills an entire room within the books department. Sadly I didn't have enough time to explore it properly before we had to be on our way, although to be frank I wouldn't have known where to start anyway, there's so much there. (If Jeremy Duns ever visited the place, I doubt we'd see him again.) In the end I contented myself with a browse through the modern firsts and a dig in a pile of books under a staircase, which netted me one last first edition – an early-'60s entry in one of the most celebrated PI series of all time...

Tuesday 17 September 2013

The Secondhand Bookshops of Suffolk: Woodbridge, Framlingham and Orford, Guest-Starring Gavin Black, William Haggard, Michael Gilbert, Andrew York, Brian Garfield, Desmond Lowden, Doctor Who and Some Chickens

I suppose it says something about the prolix nature of this blog that this series of posts on the recent Jones-Day family holiday to Suffolk – chiefly the secondhand bookshops visited and the books bought in them – has lasted longer than the holiday itself now. Still, mustn't let unnecessary navel-gazing distract us from the task in hand, namely:

Yet more photographs of me and little Edie in picturesque Suffolk locales (photo courtesy, like most of the ones littering these posts, of the lovely and talented Rachel). That there is the view out to Orford Ness, a fascinating shingle spit near the River Alde estuary, close to the small town of Orford. I'll get to why it's so fascinating in a moment, but before we made it that far, Edie, Rachel and I spent some time in nearby Woodbridge, a decent-sized town I dragged the girls to in the mistaken belief that there were two secondhand bookshops there. In fact there was only one: a highly disappointing branch of Oxfam Books; the other secondhand bookshop, the one I really wanted to visit, turned out to be in the smaller and indeed more attractive town of Framlingham, about eight miles north of Woodbridge:

V. S. Bell, situated on the main square. Consisting of one smallish room, the shop is nevertheless crammed with books, notably a sizeable holding of crime fiction, in amongst which I spotted novels by Existential Ennui favourites Donald E. Westlake and P. M. Hubbard. Sadly I already owned the books in question, but I didn't own these ones:

First editions of Gavin Black's A Big Wind for Summer (Collins, 1975), William Haggard's The Scorpion's Tail (Cassell, 1975), Michael Gilbert's Death of a Favourite Girl (Hodder, 1980) and Andrew York's The Combination (Severn House, 1984). Haggard, Gilbert and York I've blogged about before (Gilbert only very recently), but Gavin Black is a new name to Existential Ennui. The pseudonym of Oswald Wynd, Black published fifteen thrillers from 1960 to 1991, thirteen of them, including A Big Wind for Summer, featuring businessman and adventurer Paul Harris. They were well-regarded in their day, so I'm looking forward to trying one.

But I didn't just buy those four books in V. S. Bell; I also came away with these:

Target paperback first printings of Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen (1974), Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders and Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (both 1975). I find it hard to resist early Target Doctor Who novelisations whenever I see them, especially first printings and those written by Terrance Dicks (which two of those books were); earlier this year I picked up another bunch in Brighton, including:

first printings of Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (1974), Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth (1977) and Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen (1976). Also in that lot was the first Target Who novelisation, Doctor Who and the Daleks, which I blogged about back in May (and of course there's this post from 2011, about what the Target novelisations mean to me).

So, that was Framlingham. From there we headed to Orford, for once not because there was a secondhand bookshop there – as far as I knew there wasn't – but because it had been recommended to me as a lovely place to visit. Which it was, especially the quayside, where we got talking to an elderly local gentleman who told us about his wartime exploits in Africa and Italy and how he'd finally been posted to Auschwitz at the end of World War II, in total spending seven years in Europe. He also explained how Orford Ness had been used for all sorts of military shenanigans in the decades since WWII, including as an airstrip, a Cold War listening station, and for nuclear testing; you can still see the structures known as the "pagodas" from the quayside, and apparently there are miles of tunnels beneath what is now a nature reserve.

There's a great view back towards the town and Orford Castle:

A view which Edie rather rudely decided to photobomb:

But there's also, not far from the big car park on the way to the quay, this:

The Born to Read Bookshop. Yes, even when I don't go looking for a secondhand bookshop I still manage to find one, although it's only a shop in the loosest sense: if you follow the signs through the pleasant garden, within the confines of which chickens and their chicks roam about:

you eventually come to a conservatory, in which are crates of musty old books and a tin for whatever donation you feel suitable for whichever books you find:

I came away with a couple of first editions:

Brian Garfield's Recoil (Macmillan, 1977) and Desmond Lowden's Bellman & True (Eyre Methuen, 1975). Garfield I've covered previously, when I reviewed his best-known novel, Death Wish (1973), but Desmond Lowden is another new name to Existential Ennui; I picked up Bellman & True because I dimly recalled the 1980s TV adaptation, but the novel has a following too – there's a Friday's Forgotten Books review here.

That, then, was Orford – and indeed that was our last full day of gadding about around Suffolk. But wait! There was still the journey back home to come, which, as luck would have it, coincided with the Long Melford Book Fair...

Monday 16 September 2013

Crime and Spy Author Andrew MacKenzie's Debut Novel, The House at the Estuary (Ward, 1948; a Westleton, Suffolk Score), plus Bibliography

Let's begin the second week (!) of posts about my (and, of course, Rachel and little Edie's) recent summer holiday with the third book I bought in Chapel Books in the small Suffolk village of Westleton – a book which to my mind deserves a post all of its own (kind of):

The House at the Estuary by Andrew MacKenzie, first published in hardback by Ward Lock & Co. in 1948. MacKenzie's debut novel, it's a murder mystery narrated by one Bob Arlen, a wartime intelligence officer tasked with investigating the mysterious suicides of a number of London society folk.

Which, you have to admit, sounds quite intriguing, and having dipped into it it seems to be a lively enough affair, plus it's a scarce book, with just a couple of copies of it currently on AbeBooks, only one of those with a dust jacket – but even so, you'd be forgiven at this point for wondering why on earth I decided to purchase (for eight quid), and then dedicate a post to, such a tatty old tome. I mean, as you can see, the jacket's in a dreadful state – and uncredited too, not that you can see much of the design anyway – while it's a fairly safe bet you've never heard of the author.

Well, two reasons. Firstly, although evidently little-remembered these days, MacKenzie is a writer whose work I'd become interested in prior to finding this book, as a result of these:

A Man from the Past (1958) and The Missile (1959), the final two of the seven books he wrote for British publisher T. V. Boardman in the 1950s. The Bloodhound Mysteries, with their splendid dust jackets designed by Boardman's art director, Denis McLoughlin (who nevertheless managed to misspell MacKenzie's name on The Missile), have been a preoccupation of mine for some time, initially the handful of early Donald E. Westlake novels issued by the publisher, latterly the more espionage-inclined titles (Bryan Peters's The Big H, Christopher Adams's Amateur Agent, etc.). A number of MacKenzie's novels for Boardman, which star sleuth Nicholas Cornish, fall into the espionage camp, which is why I nabbed these two books online last year – the only ones of his Boardman novels I could find with their wrappers. (Both have now joined the other McLoughlin covers in my Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery.)

As to the other reason I decided to buy this particular copy of The House at the Estuary:

It's signed and inscribed by MacKenzie, to his "cousin Jim, Gertrude, & all friends at the Halfway House, Rickmansworth with whom I have spent many happy hours".

MacKenzie may be virtually forgotten these days – there's very little information about him online – but he was fairly well-reviewed in his time; the jacket flaps of A Man from the Past and The Missile carry positive notices for his previous books from The Sunday Times and The Star, as well as regionals like the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Sheffield Telegraph:

There's also a backlist in each book, which, along with some other sources, has enabled me, apropos of nothing other than hitherto one hasn't been readily available, to assemble a bibliography – see below – albeit with some information missing; updates to this would be more than welcome.

MacKenzie's final novel was, I believe, Voice from the Cell, published by Robert Hale in 1961, but in 1966 an Andrew MacKenzie published a non-fiction work, The Unexplained: Some Strange Cases of Psychical Research (Arthur Barker), and thereafter published a succession of similarly themed books, including Frontiers of the Unknown (Barker, 1968), The Unexplained (Abelard-Schuman, 1970), Apparitions and Ghosts (Barker, 1971), Riddle of the Future: A Modern Study of Precognition (Barker, 1974), Dracula Country: Travels and Folk Beliefs in Romania (Barker, 1977), Hauntings and Apparitions (Heinemann, 1982) and so forth. Whether this is the same Andrew MacKenzie I don't know, but he continued publishing into the 1990s, his final book being, I believe, Adventures in Time: Encounters with the Past (Continuum/Athlone, 1997). Again, if there's anyone who can confirm or deny they're the same man, I welcome your comments.

Anyway: onwards. And next we're heading to an historic market town and then, once more, to the coast.

Andrew MacKenzie Bibliography

The House at the Estuary (Ward Lock & Co., 1948)
Search in the Dark (Ward, 1948)
Shadows on the River (Ward, 1949)
Splash of Red (Ward, 1949)
Whisper if You Dare! (Ward, 1950)
Point of a Gun (Ward/year unknown)
The Man Who Wanted to Die (Ward, 1951)
Always Fight Back (T. V. Boardman, 1955)
Three Hours to Hang (Boardman, 1955)
A Grave is Waiting (Boardman, 1957)
The Reaching Hand (Boardman, 1957)
Shadow of a Spy (Boardman, 1958)
A Man from the Past (Boardman, 1958)
The Missile (Boardman, 1959)
Voice from the Cell (Robert Hale, 1961)