The Doorbell Rang–Best 100 Mysteries of All Time

The Doorbell Rang—Rex Stout–1966 There are a gazillion Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin novels that are superb. I chose The Doorbell Rang because of its audacious subject and the ending, which I will not be revealing. I’m not alone in loving this particular title. It’s on the list provided by MWA–Mystery Writers of America … Read more

Interviewing Dead Writers

I’m struggling to find questions for those authors who are among the living, partially because I am woefully behind in reading current mystery writers’ work. It does take a modicum of knowledge regarding a detective series, or suspense novel which one can only really get from spending time trundling across the internet for tidbits, or cracking open and reading through a book. What I do

Erle Stanley Gardner who spent much of his time, alone, in the desert with not one, but three secretaries–all sisters.

have, is a ridiculous amount of dead authors books under my belt. It occurred to me that I have questions for many of those whose work lives on, long past their creators expiration dates. For example, Rex Stout. The man created an iconic character out of…? Did Mr. Stout dream up Nero Wolfe, the agoraphobic, beer swilling, orchid loving, gourmand after a indigestible meal? His cohort, Archie Godwin is more  typical of the genre, while Wolfe is decidedly a unique voice. Stout wrote other things before embarking on his best selling series. How and when did this inspiration hit him? I would think that a publisher being pitched the idea of Wolfe would have been skeptical at the very least. To Erle Stanley Gardner, the mastermind behind Perry Mason, I’d want to know why he couldn’t put pen to paper. He dictated his books to his, ‘secretary’.

A young Rex before the odd beard.

Quotations because he eventually married that secretary, finally, after the wife passed on. I’d also like to know how much or little real law is used within the books. When reading a Gardner, I’m struck by how Mason either eludes laws, or just plain breaks them and gets away with it. If, as a former lawyer, Gardner’s writing what he knows, did he circumvent the law while practicing?

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The Butter Did It and A Incomparable Bookman

A look at a yummy bookseller.

The Butter Did It. This is a running joke my friend Jamie McCoy will meet me with whenever he wants to point out my fallibility. Back when hypermodern collecting was all the rage, I would tout the newest first time author, depending on print run, etc. Not all new authors were great or even remained authors. Some faded quickly leaving behind a couple of signed books in someone’s hopeful collection of possible appreciating volumes. The Butter Did It melted away into oblivion and with it Jamie’s hope of resale at a profit. It became the symbol for Jamie and I, of the silliness in  believing every new novel could or should be collected. If I now recommend some book I think was a fantastic read, or possible investment, he utters those cholesterol filled words and we both chuckle, me a bit ruefully. Recently, Jamie had some heart related issues, and I swore to my husband I was going to create a card with the cover of the book on it and declare, ‘Yep, that’s right, Jamie, The Butter Did It! ‘ I never fulfilled that task, much to my regret, lol.

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A Personal Best as a Bookseller-Or How I Sold The Carter Burden Collection

One of the books sold that night–I think. If not, it was another very rare in dust jacket Stout.

There were days when I sold well over a hundred hardcovers. Mostly hand selling, some via The First Editions Club I managed. My enthusiasm for a certain title, and the collectibility would combine to convince an already interested party to buy the book I was praising. If I had read the book, naturally, my sales pitch would be more informed and rooted in personal pleasure. If I’d not yet read the book, or it wasn’t something I was likely to read, I still sold it well based on fellow booksellers’ thoughts, Publisher’s Weekly, The NY Times Book Review, and again, collectibility. I became obsessed with making sure a book was in pristine condition when selling it as an ‘investment’. Not a visible wrinkle, tear, spot on the dust jacket was permitted. The book must have no bumped corners.  (bumped is when the tips at top and bottom of the book’s boards have been squashed via falling, or bad packaging) No damage to the interior pages was acceptable either, nor was any kind of scratch or stain on the boards beneath the jacket.  I was looked at askance by fellow employees and the boss, at one place of employment. Which was slightly ironic, since I was hired for the express purpose of selling hypermodern mysteries to collectors.

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Do Reprints Lower The Sale of First Editions?

I have no idea! And that’s why I am writing this article, because I’ve had a long discussion on another site about vintage illustration being copied, and one argument against copying public domain images from rare books or postcards is that it hurts the rare paper ephemera business and book sellers. Does it? Do say, … Read more

The 2011 Wolfe Award Nominees Are Announced

Each year the premier fan club for Rex Stout and his mystery series starring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, The Wolfe Pack,  have a banquet honoring those who have written a crime novel most in the style and spirit as a Nero Wolfe title. The lucky winner receives the Wolfe Award. Here are this year’s … Read more

Rex Stout and Me (sort of)

Sometimes serendipity enters a book collectors life. When I worked for A&E as their bookclub moderator, I  wrote articles and interviewed authors etc., but I also had conversations via comments, just like here. I noticed on one mystery board, a woman was asking anyone who may have info how she could sell a collection … Read more