Steve Mertz posted this pic of his bookshelves on Facebook the other day (taken, I suspect by Paul Bishop, who paid him a recent visit). So, in the tradition of my 2015 post "Secret's of Bill Crider's Bookshelf (that's HERE), I did a little literary detective work to give you a closer look at some of Steve's reading matter.
Unlike Bill's photo, in which almost every title was legible, this one required more guesswork and familiarity with Steve's tastes. It also helped that he shelved the books alphabetically by author, making the guesswork easier. Today, we'll be taking a closer look at that first row, marching off to the right of Steve's forehead.
Of the first twenty books, the only author I can decipher is Edward S. Aarons, and I can't make out titles. But the Cleve F. Adams section is easy to spot. The orange hardcover is the second Rex McBride adventure, And Sudden Death, and the tall trade pb with the white & blue spine is the first, the new reprint of Sabotage from Altus Press.
Can't make out the black hardcover next to Sabotage, but next in line are these first two of three novels featuring Bill Rye, who was Adams' take on political operative Ned Beaumont of The Glass Key. I'm jealous of Steve's Dig Me a Grave dust jacket. (More about Dig Me HERE.)
Next up is Murder All Over, a retitling of the Rex McBride novel Up Jumped the Devil, recognizable because of it's distinctive brown spine.
And next to Murder All Over is a spineless paperback I'm pretty dang sure is a Handi-book, meaning it's one of the two above. My money is on Up Jumped the Devil, discussed HERE.
After several undecipherable titles by William Ard, and at least a couple by Philip Atlee, we come to hefty collection of paperbacks by Michael Avallone. That's no surprise, as Steve is a long time admirer of his.
I could read only two of those Avallone titles, and they're shown above.
But I also see an Ace Double tucked in there. Could this be it?
I don't recognize the first ten books in this section, but the eleventh is Dealing Out Death, an early novel featuring W.T. Ballard's Hollywood troubleshooter Bill Lennox.
Steve's copy has to be one of the editions above (probably the one on the left). More about that book HERE.
Next to Dealing Out Death is Ballard's last Bill Lennox novel, published for some inane reason as by "John Shepherd. This one appeared in 1960, twenty-seven years after Lennox's debut in Black Mask. Then, after a couple more mystery books, we come to the Robert Leslie Bellem section...
No bookshelf should be without a Dan Turner collection, and Steve has at least two. Roscoes in the Night was published by Adventure House in 2003, and the John Wooley book below (more HERE), came out in 1983. You'll find the title story from the Black Dog's Spicy Western collection Lust of the Lawless HERE.
The most intriguing book on this top row is shelved between Roscoes and another mystery book, followed by Lust of the Lawless. It's sort of salmon colored, and appears to be an old hardcover in dust jacket. Could it be the Bellem mystery Blue Murder? Or maybe the Adams-Bellem collaboration The Vice Czar Murders? I've never seen a dj for either. Again, I'm jealous. I'm also mighty curious about the tall white book between the skinny little Lust and the Hollywood Detective book. What the heck is it?
You'll find scans of Handi and Harlequin Sleeping Nude covers (including Art Scott's Bellem autograph and a link to James Reasoner's erudite review HERE.)
Next to Sleeping Nude are these two sleaze books. I didn't think much of them, and Steve probably didn't either, but since they're by Bellem, I guess we had to have them. You'll find scans of the back covers HERE.
Next up: What wonders await on row Two? What books will you recognize that I can't? Come back tomorrow and see.