Publishers


   If you like (love) old vintage crime fiction as much as I do, and if you have a Nook, Kindle or other similar electronic reading device, you’re in luck.

   A new ebook website, Prologue Books, has been in the works for the past few months, and it’s now online at www.prologuebooks.com.

   You’ll find a complete list of current offerings below. Greg Shepard of Stark House Press, one of the fellows responsible for this new line of books, tells me that other authors yet to come are Harry Whittington, Dan Marlowe, Helen Nielsen, G. H. Otis, Jack Webb, Gil Brewer, Louis Trimble, Barry Malzberg. Westerns are next. Science fiction and adventure are coming, he says. (The other fellow involved is Ben LeRoy, editor of Tyrus Books. Trust me. These guys know what they’re doing.)

   My reaction? What a great idea! One whose time has come. The good stuff. The kind of tough, hard-boiled fiction I’ve been reading for over 50 years. Looking through the list of books below, I bought some of them new off the local drugstore’s spinner rack when I was still in my teens. (I still have them.) The others in my collection I had to scrounge up from used bookstores here and there all over the country, from Maine to St. Louis and back again.

   And here they are again, all spruced up, the dust brushed off and ready for a new generation of readers. Personally all I could wish for are paper editions as well, but this is the next best thing. Believe me, this is the best news I’ve had all week.

      Robert Colby

Run for the Money
The Faster She Runs
The Deadly Desire
The Captain Must Die
Secret of the Second Door
Lament for Julie
Kim
Beautiful But Bad
These Lonely, These Dead
Murder Mistress
The Star Trap
Kill Me a Fortune
In a Vanishing Room
The Quaking Widow

      Richard Deming

This Game of Murder
Tweak the Devil’s Nose
Give the Girl a Gun
The Gallows in My Garden

      Fletcher Flora

The Seducer
The Brass Bed
Skuldoggery
Park Avenue Tramp
The Hot Shot
Lysistrata
Wake Up With a Stranger
Killing Cousins
Leave Her to Hell

      William Campbell Gault

Sweet Wild Wench
The Convertible Hearse
Square in the Middle
Vein of Violence
The Wayward Widow
The Bloody Bokhara
Murder in the Raw
Dead Hero
County Kill
Don’t Cry for Me
The Hundred Dollar Girl
The Canvas Coffin
Run, Killer, Run
Night Lady
Million Dollar Tramp
End of a Call Girl
Death Out of Focus
Day of the Ram
Blood on the Boards

      Orrie Hitt

Shabby Street
Woman Hunt
Untamed Lust
Unfaithful Wives
The Sucker
The Promoter
The Lady is a Lush
Suburban Wife
Sin Doll
Sheba
Pushover
Ladies Man
I’ll Call Every Monday
Dolls and Dues

      Frank Kane

A Short Bier
A Real Gone Guy
Trigger Mortis
Red Hot Ice
Johnny Liddell’s Morgue
Dead Weight
Stacked Deck

      Henry Kane

The Case of the Murdered Madame
Martinis and Murder
Don’t Call Me Madame
Death of a Dastard
Armchair in Hell
Fistful of Death
Death is the Last Lover

      M. E. Kerr

Fell Down
Fell Back
Fell

      Ed Lacy

The Freeloaders
Two Hot to Handle

      Whit Masterson

A Hammer in His Hand
A Shadow in the Wild
Badge of Evil
Dead, She Was Beautiful
Evil Come, Evil Go
The Dark Fantastic
A Cry in the Night

      Marijane Meaker

Scott Free
Game of Survival

      Wade Miller

Deadly Weapon
Murder Charge
Shoot to Kill
Uneasy Street
Murder – Queen High
Calamity Fair

      Vin Packer

The Young and Violent
Girl on the Best Seller List
Something in the Shadows
Dark Don’t Catch Me
Come Destroy Me
Alone at Night
5:45 to Suburbia
Don’t Rely on Gemini
The Damnation of Adam Blessing
The Evil Friendship
The Hare in March
The Thrill Kids
The Twisted Ones
Three Day Terror
Intimate Victims

      Kin Platt

Murder in Rosslare
Match Point for Murder
Dead As They Come
The Body Beautiful Murder
The Giant Kill
The Kissing Gourami
The Princess Stakes Murder
The Pushbutton Butterfly
The Screwball King Murder

      Talmage Powell

With a Madman Behind Me
Man Killer
Start Screaming Murder
The Girl’s Number Doesn’t Answer
The Killer is Mine
The Smasher
Corpus Delectable

      Peter Rabe

The Silent Wall
The Return of Marvin Palaver
The Box
My Lovely Executioner
Murder Me for Nickels
Journey into Terror
Blood on the Desert
Benny Muscles In
Anatomy of a Killer
Agreement to Kill
A Shroud for Jesso
A House in Naples

      Charles Runyon

The Anatomy of Violence
Color Him Dead
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die
The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS
Summer & Fall 2010


   This past summer’s titles from Ostara Publishing’s Top Notch Thrillers imprint which aims to revive Great British thrillers “which do not deserve to be forgotten” included a 50th anniversary reissue of a classic manhunt; the story of a World War II conspiracy from one of the biggest selling authors of the 1970s; an award-winning against-the-clock thriller; and a Gothic chiller from an author described as the literary link between Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert.

   Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household is the tense, spare story of a manhunt across England’s green and pleasant countryside in 1955 which has been described by one critic “As if Gunfight at the OK Corral had been transposed to St Mary Mead.”

   Geoffrey Household, the writer widely considered to be the natural successor to John Buchan, had an unrivalled feel for the English countryside and the primitive bond between hunter and prey.

   First published fifty years ago in 1960, Watcher in the Shadows is a masterly description of a deadly game of cat-and-mouse which ranks comfortably alongside Household’s legendary Rogue Male.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   Black Camelot, first published in 1978, combines a superbly researched wartime conspiracy plot with blistering action and rightly led to the author, Duncan Kyle, being favourably compared to Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley.

   Under his real name, John Broxholme was a distinguished journalist and Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, but it was as Duncan Kyle that he achieved international fame from the moment his first thriller, A Cage of Ice, became an instant bestseller on publication in 1970.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   Francis Clifford was one of Britain’s most respected thriller writers from his first well-crafted mysteries in the late 1950s to his untimely death in 1975. His 1974 novel The Grosvenor Square Goodbye was a sensation on publication, won the Crime Writers’ Silver Dagger and was serialised in national newspapers.

   The action of the book takes place in less than 24 hours and begins with a crazed lone gunman bringing the West End of London – and the American Embassy – to a violent halt. But nothing, absolutely nothing, in this ingenious ticking-clock thriller can be taken for granted.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   The Young Man From Lima, first published in 1968, shows all the trademark touches which made author John Blackburn “today’s master of horror” (Times Literary Supplement).

   John Blackburn held a unique place among British thriller writers of the 1960s, adding his own taste for the Gothic and the macabre to the conventions of the thriller, the spy story and the detective novel, and always at a ferocious pace. As a writer he is seen as the literary link between the work of Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert and many of his plots were based on scientific or medical phenomenon presaging the work of writers such as Michael Crichton.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



         7th December 2010

   Top Notch Thrillers, the new imprint of print-on-demand publisher OSTARA celebrates its first year in operation with the re-issue of two classic British thrillers.

    John Gardner’s debut novel The Liquidator was originally written as an affectionate spoof of the James Bond genre and featured the cowardly, accident-prone agent “Boysie” Oakes.

   Originally published in 1964, shortly after the death of Ian Fleming, the Boysie Oakes books were seen as a natural successor to Bond and in the 1970s, John Gardner (by now an established thriller writer) was approached by the estate of Ian Fleming to continue the 007 franchise. In total, Gardner wrote over 50 novels, the last of which was published posthumously in 2008.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   Victor Canning (1911-1986) was one of Britain’s best-loved popular novelists, whose first book was published at the age of 23 and whose writing career spanned more than 50 years. The Rainbird Pattern is probably his most famous thriller and won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger in 1972. It was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock (his last film) as Family Plot.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   In the first year since its inception, the Top Notch Thrillers imprint has reissued 14 novels from what consulting editor Mike Ripley calls: “the heyday of British thriller writing – the 1960s and 1970s.”

   Says Ripley, himself an award-winning crime writer and a member of the International Thriller Writers organisation: “It’s a fantastic honour to be re-issuing many of the thrillers I grew up reading, but it is not just a question of nostalgia. The range and distinctiveness of British thrillers forty years ago was staggering, and the sheer quality of imaginative writing then simply does not deserve to be forgotten.”

   Full details of all Top Notch Thrillers can be found on www.ostarapublishing.co.uk. Titles are available from Amazon (£10.99 in the UK, $16.98 in the US).

   Series Editor Mike Ripley can be contacted via Mike@ripley17.freeserve.co.uk

Editorial Comment:  The last two are not yet available from Amazon in the US, but they can be obtained from bookdepository.com in the UK for $15.95, postpaid. (Price and availability may change quickly.)

    Back in January of 2009, I posted an article by Nicholas Flower about his role in creating new titles for Charles Williams’ crime novels when they were published in the UK by Cassell.

    The piece was updated in February, and in March cover images of five more dust jackets of books in the Cassell series were added, thanks to Bill Pronzini, along with new commentary about them by Nicholas.

    Cassell published fifteen Charles Williams thrillers, though, and until last week there were only twelve that were included in Nicholas’ article. And there things stood, until now, thanks to some helpful online booksellers who very kindly supplied us with images of the three that were missing. All fifteen covers are now part of that original post.

    I hope you’ll go back and take a look. You can find the post here. I think it’s worth the visit, or even a revisit!

                    — Steve

    It’s taken me longer than it should have, but this afternoon I finally finished the formatting of a checklist that should be of interest to everyone who reads and collects mysteries published during the Golden Age of Detection.

HARPER'S SEALED MYSTERIES

    Compiled by Victor Berch, the title is “A Checklist of HARPERS SEALED MYSTERY SERIES,” and to tempt you even more, here are the first two paragraphs of Victor’s introduction to the list:

    Following in the footsteps of Doubleday, Doran & Co.s entrance into the mystery series with its Crime Club series early in 1928, Harper Brothers introduced in 1929 an unusual concept for its series. Each publication was to have a certain portion of the mystery story sealed off from the reader at a climactic point in the story. If the reader wished to continue to discover the authors explanation and solution to the committed crime(s), the reader would then have to break the seal and read on.

    Should the reader lose interest in the authors story and returned the book to the bookseller with the seal intact, the reader would be refunded the cost of the book.

    This series of books, obviously very collectible today, was published between 1929 and 1934. The most prominent author included in the series was beyond a doubt John Dickson Carr, with nine books in the series (in six years!). It’s the cover of one of these that you see here up above. Other authors include Freeman Wills Crofts, Milton Propper, Mary Plum, Hulbert Footner and Albert Payson Terhune.

    Thanks to Bill Pronzini and his collection, covers of some two dozen or more are included. The list is too long to have posted on the blog. You’ll find it instead here on the main Mystery*File website. (Follow the link.)

    And just how many of the books were returned to Harper’s for a refund? You’ll have to read Victor’s article.

ANNOUNCING:
AN IPL CHECKLIST, by Victor A. Berch


IPL A Checklist

   This is Steve speaking. IPL is the short form of a tongue-twister name of a publishing company called International Polygonics Limited. The man behind the company was Hugh Abramson, and the man behind him, working as a series consultant and helping to choose what books to reprint, was Douglas G. Greene, who’s presently the man in charge of Crippen & Landru, publisher of previously uncollected stories of a long list of mystery writers.

   Together, as the head honchos behind IPL, they put together a long run of paperback mystery reprints, with a soupcon of hardcovers and original novels thrown in. Authors such as John Dickson Carr (and his alter ego Carter Dickson), Margaret Millar, Leslie Charteris, Craig Rice, Clayton Rawson, and George Baxt.

IPL CHECKLIST

   Should I name more? I can, and easily. Ngaio Marsh, Ellery Queen, Jonathan Latimer, Charlotte Armstrong, E. Richard Johnson, and Stuart Palmer. All of the above, and others, were among those with multiple titles offered.

   Impressed? You should be.

   Among the non-mystery titles IPL published were more than a handful by P. G. Wodehouse.

   Several years ago Victor Berch completed a checklist of all of the IPL titles, and you can see it here on the main Mystery*File website. (Click on the link.)

   Note that it’s long enough that it takes two full pages, with a link on the first taking you to the second. Be sure you find your way to both pages.

AN IPL CHECKLIST

   This pair of web pages is still being worked on, which is why the checklist has never been announced officially until now. I have many many cover images to add to it, including back covers, and research into some of the non-mystery books remains to be done.

   But as a checklist of the books themselves, they’re all there, with plenty of cover images already included. It also could use a better introduction and overview of the entire IPL operation, but you can consider this a Preview, with more to come, as soon as I can do it.

   To my mind, this is an extraordinary run of paperbacks, but because of limited distribution of the books, few people are as aware of their existence as they should be. This checklist should help remedy that — or at least Victor and I hope so!

OSTARA PUBLISHING
ostara@aspects.net
Website: www.ostarapublishing.co.uk

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS
New Titles: February 2010

   Three months after the imprint’s launch, Ostara Publishing has issued four more titles in their print-on-demand Top Notch Thrillers series which “aims to revive Great British thrillers which do not deserve to be forgotten.”

   The new titles, originally published in Britain between 1962 and 1970, were selected by crime writer and critic Mike Ripley, who acts as Series Editor for TNT:

   The Tale of the Lazy Dog by Alan Williams is a brilliant heist thriller set in the Laos-Cambodia-Vietnam triangle in 1969 as a mis-matched gang of rogues and pirates attempt to steal $1.5 billion in used US Treasury notes.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   Time Is An Ambush is a delicate, atmospheric study of suspicion and guilt set in Franco’s Spain, by Francis Clifford, one of the most-admired stylists of the post-war generation of British thriller-writers.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   A Flock Of Ships, Brian Callison’s bestselling wartime thriller of a small Allied convoy lured to its doom in the South Atlantic, was famous for its breathless, machine-gun prose and was described by Alistair Maclean as: “The best war story I have ever read.”

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   The Ninth Directive was the second assignment for super-spy Quiller (whose fans included Kingsley Amis and John Dickson Carr), created by Adam Hall (Elleston Trevor) and is a taught, tense thriller of political assassination which pre-dated Day of the Jackal by five years.

TOP NOTCH THRILLERS



   Announcing the latest batch of reissues, Mike Ripley said:   “Our new titles are absolutely in line with the Top Notch ethos of showing the range and variety of thrillers from what was something of a Golden Age for British thriller writing. They range in approach from slow-burning suspense to relentless wartime action and feature obsessive, super tough, super cool spies and some tremendous villains. Above all, they are characterised by the quality of their writing, albeit in very different styles.

    “When first published, these titles were all best-sellers and their authors are among the most respected names in thriller fiction. Many readers will welcome these novels back almost as old friends and hopefully a new generation of readers will discover them for the first time.”

   Top Notch Thrillers are published as trade paperbacks with a RRP of £10.99.

Steve,

I just ran across a comment from Bill Crider on the rara avis site about Harlequin censoring the six recent mystery vintage paperbacks that they republished. This really annoys me. See this site for more and a link to the Harlequin site where they cheerfully announce the censorship:

I wish I was joking but I’m not.

Best, Walker

Excerpted from the Harlequin blog:

Remember, our intention was to publish the stories in their original form. But once we immersed ourselves in the text, our eyes grew wide. Our jaws dropped. Social behaviorsuch as hitting a womanthat would be considered totally unacceptable now was quite common sixty years ago. Scenes of near rape would not sit well with a contemporary audience, we were quite convinced. We therefore decided to make small adjustments to the text, only in cases where we felt scenes or phrases would be offensive to a 2009 readership. Also, grammar and spelling standards have changed quite a bit in sixty years. But that did entail a text edit, which we had not anticipated. AND, we had to clear those adjustments with the current copyright holders, if we had been able to locate them.

And of course, the covers: Though we used the original covers, they had to be scanned and touched up.

Here’s the comment I left:

I’m a collector of old vintage paperbacks, and I have been since I bought them new off the circular racks in drugstores and supermarkets when I was growing up.

This business of sheltering our eyes from things you think might offend us now is absolute nonsense. Who do you think we are, a bunch of weak-kneed sissies? Even if it makes us uneasy every once in a while to look at our past, history IS history, and it’s ridiculous to try to cover it up.

Please do us a favor, and keep publishing your X-rated romance novels, and leave the mystery and noir genres well enough alone. You say you’re delighted to have been able to reprint these books. I think you should be ashamed of yourselves, trampling on the work of others, especially when (as far as I can tell) it’s been done without their permission.

[UPDATE] 01-17-10. David Rachels has done us all a great service, and for doing so, I thank him. He’s taken a copy of one the James Hadley Chase books that was one of the six that Harlequin reprinted, and done a line-by-line comparison with the original.

Not too surprisingly, considering Chase’s reputation (which the editors at Harlequin obviously knew nothing about), not only were there words, phrases and the occasional sentence removed, but entire chunks of text.

Needless to say, unless done with really skilled hands, besides the fact that’s tampering with the author’s intentions, it also hardly makes for smooth reading. See David’s blog for full details.

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