I’m still on vacation mode, but as I promised I might, I’m posting a short piece on a book that I just discovered that I have but didn’t know anything about until just now. And I can’t wait until September to tell you about it.

   It’s a private eye novel, one by John P. Browner, who is in Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, but about whom he also knows nothing more. The complete entry for the author reads like this:

         * -Who Killed the Snowman? (n.) Pocket Books 1979
         * Death of a Punk (n.) Pocket Books 1980 [New York City, NY]

Death of a Punk

   It’s the second book of the pair which I’ve just discovered that I own. I found it in a box in my garage that I opened this afternoon to see what was in it (the box, that is). At the moment there’s not a single copy of Who Killed the Snowman? up for sale on the Internet, and Google brings up not a single mention of it, so I have no idea what it’s about. There is one copy of Death of a Punk on Amazon.com with an asking price of $75.00, but unless you’re more resourceful than I am, all of the other copies you’ll find there or anywhere else will set you back $300 or more. And, yes, you read that right.

   A word to the early bird. If the $75 one is gone by the time you read this, you weren’t early enough.

   The blurb on the front cover reads as follows: “Beyond the Law, Behind the Eight-Ball, Trapped in a Drug War … and Framed for Murder!”

   From the back cover:

ZZZ. Private Work for a Fee.
Complete Discretion Assured.
Leonard Hornblower (212) 699-1848.

   Lenny Hornblower. That’s me. $100-a-day plus expenses. Cash up front. Remember, this isn’t a licensed operation. I’ll trace anything, even runaways. For them it’s extra: $150 per, plus.

   So when a Mrs. Perlont (“Call me Lisa.”) asked me to find her Blinky, it was just another penny-ante job .. until I started nosing around the East Village puck rock scene and ran into a hot snowstorm: a cocaine heist, a hijacking ring and a know-nothing kid who knew too much to live.

   With friends like his, enemies were superfluous. Blinky was a punk rocker with a one-way ticket to Disaster Street. Trouble was, he wanted to take me along for the ride. And so did his stepmom who was willing to reveal everything but what I needed if I was ever going to find the one responsible for the …


   About the “ZZZ.” That’s the first word in the ad that Hornblower puts in the Village Voice every week. Rather than having it show up at the top of the list in the classified section, he makes sure that it appears at the bottom.

   There is a French version of this book, or at least I assume that it’s the same book, my French having disappeared on me about the same time I passed my last French exam, which would have been in 1964 or 1965. Here’s the bibliographic information from Amazon’s French website, along with a cover scan:

Browner - ZZZ

   Description du livre: Gallimard, 1981. État : Bon état. NRF 248p. N̊1824, première édition. N̊ de réf. du libraire 1928.