Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Estate Sale Bonanza - July 2, 2011
The first house had a nice library of old mystery novels including:
Red Wind by Raymond Chandler - the 1st hardcover printing from Tower Books. Most people don't realize that this is also considered a first edition and NOT a reprint even though Tower Books is primarily known as a reprint house.
The High Window by Chandler (Tower books reprint)
The Adventures of Sam Spade by Dashiell Hammett - 1st hardcover from Tower books (but a 2nd printing) Later in the car I discovered this was only a reading copy due damage to the boards and some scribbles on the endpapers.
But for 50 cents a book who really cares. None of them had dust jackets unfortunately
Other mystery books I picked up at that sale were Dead Skip by Joe Gores and Cop Killer (1st US edition with DJ in excellent condition) by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo. This is a Martin Beck book that I had yet to find in a a decent US edition. Now I can get rid of the placeholder book club edition I have.
Also in this house I found several books by Antoine de Saint-Exupery but only took Flight to Arras -- a first edition, the one in the best condition, and one that I don't have a copy of nor have I read. Wind, Sand, and Stars is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a memoir, but it reads like a novel. His books about being a pilot during wartime are some of the best aviation memoirs.
It was the very last house located in Zion all the way up by the Wisconsin border that we found our genuine treasures. Zion was founded by an eccentric Scottish evangelist, John Alexander Dowie, who named most of the streets after towns, prophets, and other personages found in the Old Testament. On our way to the estate sale house located on Enoch Street we passed streets named Gideon, Galilee, Ezra, Ezekiel, Bethesda, Jericho, and most of them were in alphabetical order. I was very intrigued by that. When we got to the house I found that the "old books," as described in the ad, turned out to be exclusively religious textbooks, hymnals and other related books. I was disappointed but had I known more about Zion I would have been prepared for something like that.
At first I only looked at the magazines from the 1930s hoping I would find an installment from The Rubber Band or Too Many Cooks or any of the early Nero Wolfe novels. But then we decided to look in the 1950s copies as well since they were in much better condition. Bingo! On the cover of one from 1955 was the brightly lettered ad proclaiming: A complete NERO WOLFE mystery novel. It turned out to be "The Last Witness" - really a novella not a novel - later published as "The Next Witness" in the book Three Witnesses. We also found an issue with the final installment of The Red Box (illustration from that is pictured at the left). And there were more surprises in store as we made our way through the entire stack.
After much flipping of pages and dirtying all of our fingers with the dust and grime of a house occupied by four successive generations of one family we found quite a nice pile of forgotten gems of mystery fiction. Here is the list with a surprising variety of writers and styles.
Octavus Roy Cohen - "The Frame-Up" story featuring detective Jim Hanvey (June 1928)
P. G. Wodehouse - "The Missing Mystery" story (December 1931)
Max Brand - "Masquerade" a mystery novella not a western (June 1936)
Leslie Charteris - "The Saint and the Siren" story (same issue as the Brand novella0
Q. Patrick - "The Jack of Diamonds" novella (November 1936)
Alexandra Brown - "Curtain for an Actress" novella (April 1937)
Rex Stout - last installment of The Red Box (same issue as the Brown novella)
Q. Patrick - "Exit Before Midnight" novella (October 1937)
Kelley Roos - "Deadly Detour" novella (August 1952)
Kelley Roos - "The Case of the Hanging Gardens" novella (July 1954)
Rex Stout - "The Last Witness" novella (May 1955)
Not a bad haul. The big bonus was that everything in the house was at half price since it was the final day of the sale. We ended up paying $20.50 for the stack of nine magazines. Lots of reading and reviewing to come - especially the Kelley Roos and Q. Patrick stories which I don't think have been published anywhere in book format.