Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hammett Mapback: The Continental Op

When I ran out of in-print Hammett stories back in the 70s, the search for more put me on the trail of the elusive Dell Mapbacks. A local paperback exchange owner said, "You have to meet my next door neighbor." And so it was I was ushered into the presence of the King of Paperbacks, the late Lance Casebeer. I found Lance in the basement of his kingdom, in one of his many rooms lined floor-to-ceiling with paperback books, sipping wine and talking books with Mr. Bruce Taylor of the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore (in those days called, I believe, Murder Inc.). And the two proceeded to regale me with mystical lore of both Hammett (Bruce) and paperbacks (Lance). When I left, my head was swimming, but I had my first Hammett Mapbacks, and the promise of more to come.
The Continental Op (Dell 129, 1946) was a reprint of a 1945 Bestseller Mystery digest of the same title. Since the digest was the true first edition of this story collection, it was at the time more valuable, but to me the mapback was much more desirable. In addition to the stories mapped on the back, the book includes "The Farewell Murder." All were originally published in Black Mask ("Death on Pine Street" under the title "Women, Politics and Murder") and all but "Fly Paper" were out of print in the 70s.

I never get tired of looking at these books, so I'll be slapping them up here to give you the same opportunity. Click on the map for a larger view.


Laurie Powers said...

Dave, this is awesome. I'm going to post a link on my site to this post. I'm sure some of my pulp friends will be interested.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Laurie. 6 more Hammett mapbacks to come. All of Hammett's stories are now in print, of course, but these maps are still great to refer to.

P.S. If you squint really hard, you'll see the bottom line on that Wild West Weekly cover up in the header says "Also SONNY TABOR complete novelette".