Thursday, February 03, 2005

Garrulous Keeler

Richard Polt, esteemed founder of the Harry Stephen Keeler society, shares this Keeleresque description of a Keeler book (one of my favorites). (Compare the American and British dustjackets.)

1. Cheung, Detective.
By Keeler, Harry Stephen
London: Ward Lock & Co., Limited, 1938
Bound Board. Good Plus/Overall Very Good (see Notes).
8vo. First Edition in a Lovely period wrapper which appears to date from 3 yrs later. This Edition PRECEDES the US first which was retitled as 'Y Cheung Business Detective'. On the reverse of the Title page it states "First Published in 1938" in the centre of the page alone, the only other info is a 'Made in England' and printers details at the foot of that page. Opposite the title page is a box with details of "Other Novels by Harry Stephen Keeler" and this title is not listed, and none of which were published later than this title, which is a usual indication of it being a First. However there is also the number ' 849A ' printed above the publisher on the d/w and there is also a list of his novels on the rear of the d/w where this title IS actually listed. This number on spine of dust wrapper seems to indicate that this wrapper could be part of the Ward Lock reprint series??. Having checked all of the titles, inside and out, the BOOK is definately a first, all the titles listed are earlier than 'Cheung', but it looks as if the wrapper is one from 3 years later (1941) since the last few titles listed on the rear are 1941 titles. This is not unusual since unsold copies of a First Edition ( particularly during the war years, and the paper 'relocation' for war purposes in the UK) were often issued later in 'amended' wraps. It is possible that the war halted production and it wasn't actually issued 'til later, but together with the numbering on the spine I suspect the former is the more likely? The predominently yellow black and blue/green illustration on the front cover is of a (rather frightened/menacing looking ?oriental looking) man peering through a door with his hand on the ?light switch.

On the d/w spine is the Title and below a large question mark with 6 heads featured in the mark. Boards sl.mottled, crease down front board. Black titling to spine. Head/tail of spine sl. bumped. Previous owner has reinforced d/w with masking tape on reverse overlapping the edges at head of spine approx 20mm x 4mm, barely visible. Price clipped. 318 pp. Light Foxing throughout, with some darker 'spotting' here and there, but Overall a Tight and Bright copy. A mystery, featuring a Chinese detective with an engineering degree, set in Indianapolis. (Keywords: DETECTIVE STORIES. CRIME WRITING. MURDER. MYSTERY. SUSPENSE. FICTION. LITERATURE. 1930'S. CHINA. Y CHEUNG BUSINESS DETECTIVE. CORRECTIONS)

The price of the book is US$ 262.43 [...]


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