BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paperback Cover Cavalcade 2

A few gems from yesterday's trawl of the charity shops around town.

F. van Wyck Mason, The Forgotten Fleet Mystery (Arrow, 1958)
In this exciting novel F. Van Wyck Mason has drawn action galore against the essentially dramatic background of the old wartime liners maintained in reserve transports off Maryland
__The story deals with the efforts of the various powers to gain possession of a secret, world-shaking in its importance.
The cover is by Henry Fox, whose work I've covered previously on Bear Alley.

Oliver Anderson, Ripe For The Plucking (Digit, 1962)
How should one greet six beautiful girls when one is dressed in nothing but soap-suds and a plastic moustache-cover? This is but one of the problems facing Gerald Folly when he tumbles off a five-bar gate into the panting bosom of the Twig family at Baron's Dingle. And some grimmer ones arise when he interrupts his bicycle tour to promote Lily Twig in the Dingle Queen election. Why is the sinister guest at The Cuckoo's Nest, Max Crome, so eager to paint Lily in the nude? What of that exquisite beast of prey, Clare Ronsard, who keeps a flick-knife and an automatic pistol in her bedside drawer?
__A saucy, hilarious book in which Mr. Anderson fully lives up to his reputation as the new Wodehouse.
Oliver Anderson earned something of a reputation early in his career when his first novel, Rotton Borough, was withdrawn from sale after only three weeks in a storm of libel writs. Written in 1937 under the pen-name Julian Pine, the novel was reprinted under Anderson's own name in 1989 when it was realised that the novel had a connection with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The lead character was set in Thatcher's birth-town of Grantham and its lead character was a local grocer and town councillor, identified in hindsight by many as Thatcher's father, Alderman Alfred Roberts. Anderson denied that his novel's character, Councillor Nurture, was based on anyone. Alderman Roberts did not follow the lead of Lord Brownlow and a number of other local dignitaries, who threatened action if the book was not withdrawn.

Anderson (1912-1996), gave up writing for some years, served in the Royal Artillery during the war, and only returned to writing in the 1950s, producing a number of comic novels over the next two decades.

Gil Brewer, 13 French Street and The Red Scarf (Simon & Schuster (Blue Murder), 1988
13 French Street—Alex knew that something was terribly wrong with his old army buddy, but not until he visited 13 French Street and met Alex's mesmerizingly beautiful wife did he realise the extent of the danger—and by then it was too late.
The Red Scarf—Hitching a ride back to Florida, Ray Nichols suddenly found himself landed with a stop-at-nothing woman and a briefcase full of stolen gangland money. "The best Gil Brewer ... a full-packed story" Anthony Boucher.
Brewer was a master of the hard-boiled yarn, publishing his first novel, Satan Is A Woman, with Gold Medal in 1951. 13 French Street, his third novel, was his first million-seller. I notice the biographical sketch in the book says that Brewer was born in 1922, but official records give his date of birth variously as 20 November 1921 or 20 November 1922. His enlistment records give his full name as Gilbert John Brewer and his year of birth as 1922. I think this could do with some investigation.

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