Monday, October 23, 2023

My Mystery Books from the 2023 Book Sale


From September 15th through September 24th this year, we visited the Planned Parenthood Book Sale five times. Here I have listed ten of the crime fiction books that I purchased at the sale. There were some older books, some newish books.

The House on the Strand (1969) by Daphne de Maurier

I had been looking for books by Daphne de Maurier at the book sale, and my son volunteered to help. He did not have any luck either until he found one in the Science Fiction and Fantasy area. We were both surprised. It turns out this is a time travel book of sorts, so of course I had to try it. Almost 300 pages; I think it will be a good read.

The English Teacher (2013) by Yiftach Reicher Atir

I bought this book because it is spy fiction and the protagonist is a female Mossad agent. Otherwise, I know nothing more about it. The author drew on his own experiences to write the book. It was translated from the Hebrew by Philip Simpson.

Tangerine (2018) by Christine Mangan

I bought this because it is set in Morocco and it is a mystery / thriller. I don't know much about Morocco at all. BookerTalk has reviewed this book. Based on her thoughts on the book I may be disappointed, but it won't hurt to give it a try.

A World of Curiosities (2022) by Louise Penny

I bought this book because I plan to read all the books in this series. And because it was a very good price for a newer hardback, although I usually don't pay $6.00 for books at the book sale. I have read 11 of the books, and this is the 18th. It will take me a while to get to this one.

The Outcast Dead (2014) by Elly Griffiths

This is another series I am working my way through. This is the 6th book of a 15 book series, so it is up in the air whether I will read all of the books in the series or not.

Bitter Wash Road (2013) by Garry Disher

Garry Disher is a prolific Australian author; I think most of his novels are mysteries. I have read one book from his Peninsula Crimes police procedural series, The Dragon Man. His first series stars a thief, Wyatt; two years ago I was lucky to find the first four in that series at the 2021 book sale. I still haven't tried any of those. And this year I found the first book in his most recent series starring Paul Hirschhausen, Bitter Wash Road

Brighton Rock (1938) by Graham Greene

I haven't read much by Graham Greene so I was happy to find this old hardback edition of Brighton Rock with the dust jacket mostly intact. The protagonist is Pinkie, a gang leader who has murdered a journalist and thinks he can get away with it. The book goes beyond a thriller to explore moral issues. 

Anatomy of a Murder (1958) by Robert Traver

I have a paperback copy of this book and had wanted to read it for years, but it has the tiniest print I have ever seen. So I was thrilled to find this copy at the book sale. 

This is from the prologue:

"This is the story of a murder, of a murder trial, and of some of the people who engaged or became enmeshed in the proceedings. Enmeshed is a good word, for murder, of all crimes, seems to posses to a greater degree than any other that compelling magnetic quality that draws people helplessly into its outspreading net, frequently to their surprise, and occasionally to their horror."

Missionary Stew (1983) by Ross Thomas

I have enjoyed the Ross Thomas books I have read, which were espionage books. Not all of his books are in that genre, but I think this one has at least a tinge of it.

This is part of a review in the October 16, 1983 Washington Post by Stephen King:

"In a country that chooses to canonize a few of its many fine comic novelists and ignore the rest, Ross Thomas is something of a secret. Missionary Stew is Thomas's 19th novel (five of them were issued under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck), but the people who know and relish the work of Ishmael Reed, Don DeLillo, and Peter DeVries do not know the work of Ross Thomas, and that seems a great shame. Perhaps Missionary Stew, certainly the best of the Thomas novels I've read, will help to rectify that situation. It is funny, cynical, and altogether delicious. If buying a novel is, as a friend of mine once said, always a speculative investment for the reader, then take it from me--this one is a blue-chip stock. Baby, you can't go wrong."

Strangers in Town: Three Newly Discovered Mysteries by Ross Macdonald, edited by Tom Nolan

From the dust jacket of the book: 

"In an important literary discovery, Macdonald biographer, Tom Nolan, unearthed three previously unpublished private-eye stories by Ross Macdonald. 'Death by Water,' written in 1945, features Macdonald's first detective Joe Rogers, and two novelettes from 1950 and 1955, 'Strangers in Town' and 'The Angry Man,' are detailed cases of Lew Archer."

This was my most expensive purchase at the book sale. The book was published by Crippen & Landru in 2001. It is in excellent condition and includes an additional small booklet with a piece written by Macdonald titled 'Winnipeg, 1929.' Ross Macdonald is a pseudonym of Kenneth Millar; he was brought up in Canada and met his wife Margaret Millar there.


pattinase (abbott) said...

What a tremendous haul. I never find books this interesting at my library book sale. Perhaps because they have them on sale all the time so the big sales have been picked over.

Cath said...

That's a good haul. I read The House on the Strand some years ago and liked it a lot. Yes, it is time-travel which is not my favourite sort of sci-fi but it's done well and set in Cornwall so I enjoyed it. I've also read the Ruth Galloway and liked that too.

Aj @ Read All The Things! said...

I hope you love them! I need to read more Daphne de Maurier books. I think I've only read 2.

TracyK said...

Patti, for this book sale, they are getting donations all year and sorting and pricing them, etc. One year they had a few online sales of more expensive books, and Glen once bought a nice copy of Spoon River Anthologies that way. Last year they had a couple of dealer only sales. But there are still more than enough books left for the actual sale. On the tenth day of the sale there were still a lot of very nice books. Amazing.

TracyK said...

Cath, Glad to hear that you liked The House on the Strand and the Cornwall setting does sound good. I usually like time travel but there are so many variations of it that you never know.

With the Ruth Galloway series, I have liked each book I have read more than the last one, but I still have some nagging probems with it. If I could find one (or two or three books) in the series each year at the book sale I would be happy, but they don't always show up or they have been scooped up before I get there.

TracyK said...

AJ, I am sure I will love a good percentage of them.

I have read one book by du Maurier, plus some short stories (which are quite different). So I need to read more of her books too.

thecuecard said...

I've only read one ... the Tangerine novel which I read & reviewed in 2018 ... I found it atmospheric and pretty good -- sort of a Talented Mr Ripley kind of friendship tale .... that gets a little creepy. The Morocco setting is not hugely developed but still a good setting for this kind of story. Enjoy all your reads.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Tracy, great group of mysteries and I have the first book in the Ruth Galloway series so I hope to have it read by the end of the year. I have heard of Anatomy of a Murder. Its a classic and also a film was made out of it years ago. Books where a court room trial takes over most of the action is not usually my favorite but this book was a huge bestseller and I will be eager to hear what you think.

Todd Mason said...

Tracy, none of my local library sales (at least any I've been to in the last several years) do too much discretionary pricing, it tends to run to the Hardbacks a dollar, Paperbacks 50c territory...or course, most of what I see in them are discards and donations not added to collections.

Thanks for the tip on the du that got by me altogether, and it's been some years since I've read anything new to me by her. Among the titles I have copies of, the Ross Macdonald (hope it wasn't Too dear, but a good book and good to have), the Ross Thomas (I do have to wonder how many snobs who were overlooking Thomas were going to trust King...and Thomas had some bestsellers, as I think I recall), and the paperback edition (I suspect--a Dell as I remember) of the "Robert Traver" ANATOMY...from the bad old days where fatter paperbacks were Much more expensive to produce than thin ones, so the current fad in megabookery was discouraged on the 25c/35c pricepoint racks. Even with the microprint, a fat little book. (I'd forgotten till refreshing memory that Traver was a pseudonym just now that "Traver" was a judge and former lawyer who had been counsel in the case the novel was based on.) I'm pretty sure I have a copy of the Greene, as well, an old battered Penguin, but I haven't seen it in quite some time.

TracyK said...

Thank for your thoughts on Tangerine, CueCard. I look forward to reading it. Earlier in the year, I read a story set in Spain that also had some scenes in Morocco. Due to my lack of knowledge of geography, I did not realize the proximity of the two countries.

TracyK said...

Kathy, I look forward to seeing what you think of the first Ruth Galloway book. I did like the story in that one but I was very distracted by the third person present tense. So it took me three years to read the 2nd book. Each book is better than the last so I keep reading them. But still don't like the present tense in this series.

After waiting all these years to get a better copy for reading, I hope I do read it soon. And then I hope we get to see the movie. I think my husband has seen it but I have not. I don't read many legal mysteries either but I am hoping this one will be worth the effort.

TracyK said...

Kathy, sorry, I did not make it clear I was talking about Anatomy of a Murder in my last paragraph.

Todd Mason said...

I'm a fan of the ANATOMY OF A MURDER film...not perfect, but Duke Ellington as co-star doesn't hurt, nor does most of the cast.

Todd Mason said... for the film.

Margot Kinberg said...

Once again, Tracy, I'm late to the party - sorry! I have to tell you, though, that Bitter Wash Road is, in my opinion, a truly excellent novel. It has a real sense of setting and local culture, and the mystery is a solid one. I truly hope you enjoy it. I see you have both a Louise Penny and an Elly Griffiths, too - both of them talented authors. I hope you'll enjoy your haul!

TracyK said...

Todd, I did wonder the same thing that you did about a review by Stephen King at that time, but I was impressed.

The Ross Macdonald was cheaper than any copy in similar conditon on Amazon at the time, and even now on ABEBOOKS everything in the condition I wanted is more than I paid. And this was for a charity, so better from my point of view. I had checked it out immediately after I saw it reviewed on Patti's blog in September, and a couple of days later I saw it at the sale. Very lucky.

I also read about Traver being a pseudonym but just briefly. We will look into getting a copy of the film.

TracyK said...

It is never too late to comment, Margot, and I always love hearing from you.

I thought I remembered that you are a fan of Bitter Wash Road and Garry Disher. You know so much more about Australian authors than I do. I am excited about all of these books.

Todd Mason said... link for the ANATOMY OF A MURDER film will give a chance to preview it, at least...I rewatched some of it last night thus.

Lark said...

You found some really good ones! I love a book sale. :D

TracyK said...

Lark, I look forward to this sale all year ... OK, at least for 6 months before. I used to bring a huge list of books to look for, but lately I go with a short list and then just browse.

TracyK said...

Todd, I tried the link yesterday but was not successful. It works today so I think I just messed up yesterday.

I am pretty sure I will like the movie but the length is a problem. For some reason we have difficulty making time for longer films. Even ones we love.

CLM said...

The House on the Strand is extremely powerful. I remember my mother reading it many years ago - it is the kind of book that you can't help discussing with anyone in the vicinity and her comments made such an impression on me that I remembered some plot elements 20 or so years later when I read it myself. Save it for DuMaurier week in May!

I have meant to read Anatomy of a Murder since 2009. I was doing some pro bono work in the local housing court, representing people about to be evicted. Somehow the judge told me this was his favorite book! I remember everyone in the courtroom (including me) found this very odd but he must have known I was a big reader. Anyway, the next time I saw it at a book sale, I picked it up but have still not read it and the judge passed away, which is a pity. I am not sure where I put it.

I really like the Elly Griffiths books and am sorry she has concluded the series!

TracyK said...

Constance, Thanks for that information on the du Maurier book. I don't know if I can put it off to read until May, but if I wait that long, I will for sure read it then. I have Jamaica Inn and I am looking for a copy of The Scapegoat.

Very interesting story about the judge in that pro bono case. It is a pretty long book but I am looking forward to finally reading it.

Bill Selnes said...

A World of Curiosities is an excellent book. It is amongst the most clever in the series. I will say no more.

TracyK said...

Bill, I am glad you enjoyed A World of Curiosities. I do hope it isn't long before I get to it. I read The Nature of the Beast this summer and I am eager to see what happens next in Gamache's life.