I went to the used bookstore this weekend in hopes of finding first editions of Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May series to round out my mom's collection - sort of a late birthday present. (No luck, by the way). Very rarely do I ever find non-remaindered copies of the Bryant & May series & when I do, it's usually at Half Price Books. A store that's not found anywhere on the East coast & consequently, no where near me.
Striking out on the Christopher Fowler books, I started perusing the smallish mystery section, looking for anything that (to be perfectly honest) had an interesting cover. I'd already searched for those titles that would fill in gaps in my own collection - Early Lori King, Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, John Dunning... but our bookstore has started carrying fewer and fewer "older" titles. Mostly it's the popular stuff and anything released in the last few years. On the rare occasion, I come across titles from the 80's, 90's and early 2000's. Rarer still would be titles from that era still in good condition.
Today, before I'd even realized it, I'd loaded up my arms with 6 novels - all first editions / first printings, none of which were remaindered, several of which were signed.
The first two I pulled out because they looked like entertaining reads:
by Bradford Morrow (The Mysterious Press, NY, 2014)
$24 (paid: $4)
Very Good; Dust Jacket: Very Good.
$24 - $40 unsigned; up to $175 signed.
This is Morrow's 8th novel & made it onto a number of "best books of the year" lists (Amazon, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly).
Synopsis: The rare book world is stunned when a reclusive collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and original manuscripts that have been vandalized beyond repair. Adam’s sister, Meghan, and her lover, Will—a convicted if unrepentant literary forger—struggle to come to terms with the seemingly incomprehensible murder. But when Will begins receiving threatening handwritten letters, seemingly penned by long-dead authors, but really from someone who knows secrets about Adam’s death and Will’s past, he understands his own life is also on the line—and attempts to forge a new beginning for himself and Meg.
A Nip of Murder by Carol Miller (Minotaur Books, NY, 2014)
Orig. price: $25.99 (paid $4)
Condition: Very Good; Dust Jacket: Good (someone wrote a small capital "I" on the back cover in pencil, hard enough to leave an indent)
Value: $10 - $20 unsigned
This is Miller's 2nd novel. The first, Murder and Moonshine, got a starred debut of the month review from Library Journal.
Synopsis: As Daisy McGovern knows all too well, it isn't easy being a young, small-town waitress at a local diner in Virginia. It becomes even harder as she's trying to stitch her life back together and salvage her job by converting the diner into a bakery. She's preoccupied with snickerdoodles and cinnamon buns, trying to feed a group of geocachers in town, when a mysterious robbery occurs in the back room and one of the thieves ends up dead with a chef's knife in his chest. With the sheriff out of town, Daisy, distrustful of the cop left in charge, takes it upon herself to follow up on clues and find out who the robber was and why he was there.
I can't always explain why I pull some titles from the shelves and not others. Sometimes it's the design of the cover or the spine or the shape of the book. Sometimes it's the publisher (smaller publishers tend to grab my attention). And sometimes, there's absolutely no measurable reason, other than my eyes caught a glimpse of something.
Today I pulled three books off the shelves, opened them up to the title page, and found that they were signed:
Drift by Jon McGoran (Forge, NY, 2013)
Orig. price: $24.99 (paid: $8)
Condition: Very Good; Dust Jacket: Very Good (slight shelf wear on lower spine)
Value: $14 unsigned; $30 signed
This is McGoran's debut novel. It got a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Synopsis: An ecological thriller about genetically modified foods and pharmaceuticals. When Philadelphia narcotics detective Doyle Carrick loses his mother and step-father within weeks of each other, he gains a twenty-day suspension for unprofessional behavior and instructions to lay low at the unfamiliar house he's inherited in rural Pennsylvania.
Ava's Man by Rick Bragg (Knopf, NY, 2001)
Orig. price: $25.00 (paid: $12)
Condition: Very Good; Dust Jacket: Very Good
Value: up to $30 unsigned; $40 - $100 signed
This is Bragg's 3rd book. He won the Pulitzer for his 1997 memoir All Over But the Shoutin'. Knopf apparently attempted to capitalize on the popularity of that title by announcing a 200,000 first print run for Ava's Man.
Synopsis: Drawing on their memories, Bragg reconstructs the life of an unlettered roofer who kept food on his family’s table through the worst of the Great Depression; a moonshiner who drank exactly one pint for every gallon he sold; an unregenerate brawler, who could sit for hours with a baby in the crook of his arm.
In telling Charlie’s story, Bragg conjures up the backwoods hamlets of Georgia and Alabama in the years when the roads were still dirt and real men never cussed in front of ladies. A masterly family chronicle and a human portrait so vivid you can smell the cornbread and whiskey, Ava’s Man is unforgettable.
The Legal Limit by Martin Clark (Knopf, NY, 2008)
Orig. price: $24.95 (paid: $8)
Condition: Good - Very Good (stain on back book boards, very light, almost unnoticeable, stain on head of book block); Dust Jacket: Good - Very Good (some shelf wear on spine edges)
Value: $10 - $25 unsigned; $30 - $40 signed
This is Clark's 3rd novel. It garnered much praise with starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus.
Synopsis: While Gates Hunt chose to fight his abusive father head-on, his younger brother, Mason, eventually escaped their bitter, impoverished circumstances by earning a free ride to college and law school. And while Gates became an intransigent, compulsive felon, Mason met and married the love of his life, had a spitfire daughter, and returned to his rural hometown as the commonwealth’s attorney. But Mason’s idyll is abruptly pierced by a wicked tragedy, and soon afterward his life further unravels when Gates, convinced that his brother’s legal influence should spring him from prison, attempts to force his cooperation by means of a secret they’d both sworn to take with them to the grave. And with his closest friend and staunch ally suddenly threatened by secrets of his own, Mason ultimately finds himself facing complete ruin and desperately defending everything and everyone he holds dear.
The last title I got is actually a duplicate of one already in my collection:
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books, NY, 2009)
Orig. price: $24.95 (paid: $4)
Condition: Very Good; Dust Jacket: Very Good (small shelf-wear crease on lower spine)
Value: $13 - $100+ unsigned; $50 - $225 signed
Pintoff won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for this title. The value for Gotham is all over the place. I've seen unsigned first printings, listed in "as new" condition, for as low as $13 and as high as $125. Signed copies can still be gotten for less than $50 but easily climb into the $200 range.
Labels: collectibles, mysteries, October 2015, signed books, used bookstore finds