Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday's Forgotten (or Overlooked) Books: STAIRWAYS OF DOOM

Uh-oh, a frazzled someone is about to get caught up to no good. I like Farjeon's stories, though MYSTERY IN WHITE was a total dismal dud.

I know nothing about this book (there's not much online) except that the sinister young girl on the cover looks like Patti McCormack in THE BAD SEED. I thought maybe this was the book the film was based on, but the author is different. Who knows? Obviously they were trying to capitalize on the film in some underhanded and not very subtle way. Still, it's a great cover.

I've read most of Mary Roberts Rinehart's output, but not this one. However, if I stumbled across it in some used book pile, I'd buy it in a minute even if it does say 'a love story - with just enough mystery.'

This is on my TBR Carter Dickons aka John DIckson Carr reread list. As in: I know I read this eons ago but can't remember a thing about it. Another great cover and less histrionic than most of the artwork usually found on Carr covers. Well, I'm a sucker for a man in top hat anyway.

Never heard of this one, but still how could I pass up this cover AND the title. It fits in so perfectly.

This title is also known as POIROT LOSES A CLIENT which I like much better. One of Christie's more character driven stories and a fabulous treatise on mystery mis-direction.

Never heard of this one either but the cover caught my eye and fits perfectly in today's theme. One wonders why the young woman at the top of the stairs is so bent out of shape.

Shadows and a staircase. What could be better? I've never read any Lorac, I have a feeling this is sort of like Edgar Wallace? Not sure. Someone will correct and set me straight.

I've heard of Bellairs, but never read him either. If I saw this cover, I'd buy the book, no question.

Probably my favorite of the Nancy Drew books as well as favorite cover art. Naturally enough I've read all the early Nancy Drews, but ask me a question about plots and whatnot, and I would draw a blank. Old lady memory is cruel. I only know that these books led me to Agatha Christie mysteries and the rest as they say, is history.

A terrific Peter Wimsey book with some pretty sordid people in it. The ending is not wonderful. The Ian Carmichael video version, if you can find it, is outstanding though again, the ending is unsparing. By the way, if you can get your hands on the audio versions of Sayer's books read by Carmichael, do so. (P.S. the staircase in the story is actually a spiral one, but picking a nit is not on the docket today.)

I used different cover versions for this book in my previous post, but I didn't find this one (which I love) until recently. My favorite cover and my favorite Rinehart book. The audio version too, is terrific.

I've recently begun re-reading some selected Ellery Queen books, but I'd never heard of this one. Somebody tell me if it's worth looking for. Queen's books do not age well, but the ones that were excellent then are usually excellent now if you make allowance for the creaky. (It's funny how some authors from the same period hold up with all their idiosyncrasies better than others. ) Or maybe it's just that some idiosyncrasies hold up better than others.

Never heard of this one either. But it fits in very nicely with today's motif.

I'm currently re-reading BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY and enjoying it yet again. It turns out to be one of my favorite Peter Wimsey's, possibly because he is happy in this one - being on his honeymoon and all. If possible, try and listen to the audio version narrated by Ian Carmichael - it is superb.

Found this other CIRCULAR STAIRCASE cover at the last minute and what the heck - it's perfect for today's theme. In an oddly surreal sort of way, it's kind of comical too and maybe that's not what was intended (there's little funny about the plot) but it's certainly eye-catchy enough.

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I've done one other Stairways of Doom posts - link - pointing out how many vintage mystery books had staircases on their cover art, but still there are more. Don't ask why I'm so fascinated by the 'theme' idea, I just am. My brain runs on quirk and melodrama is my middle name.

It's Friday once again and time to check in at author Patricia Abbott's blog, Pattinase, to see what other forgotten or overlooked books other authors are talking about. 

15 comments:

  1. https://www.fantasticfiction.com/l/e-c-r-lorac/ Since you were wondering. I always find this to be a good resource. Loved the covers.

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    1. Oh yes, I love the fantastic fiction site as well, Gram. It's a great place to find the various series in order and also by main character.

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  2. Queen's books may not have aged well but, then again, neither have I. THE MURDERER IS A FOX is one of my favorites and (I humbly submit) worth your time.

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    1. Then I will definitely look for it, Jerry. My favorite has always been CAT OF MANY TAILS but there are others I've enjoyed as well.

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  3. I thought I had seen a lot of staircases on book covers before. Glad you reminded us this is the second time you've done it. Some very striking illustrations here. A few writers I've never heard of. I've seen the mellifluous sounding Cecile Hulse Matschat's name before but don't own any of her books nor have I read any. You've enticed me with NEVER SMILE AT CHILDREN. She does look like Patty McCormack, albeit a tarted up version. [Those eyelashes! Those lips! Run away!] I have to find out what that book's all about. Sometimes the cover and the strap line are enough for me to purchase and read a book. Not often, but in this case it definitely worked! Just bought a copy from an abebooks.com seller.

    (BTW, the basis for THE BAD SEED was a stage play of the same title.)

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    1. Thanks for the elucidation, John. :) Let us know how you like NEVER SMILE AT CHILDREN, it looks like the sort of thing I might be afraid to read. HA! You'd think, by the way, that Cecile would have changed her name to something a little easier to maneuver. :)

      I thought the basis was a stage play because all the actors in the film were from the play. But I wasn't sure if the play wasn't an adaptation of a book. So weird how they used McCormack's face AND pigtails.

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  4. many very readable golden oldies... i've read quite a few and hope to read more, before... well, what i actually meant to say was: i read on your recommend, "Voodoo River" by Crais... it was pretty good, i thought, but not outstanding... the thinking detective with the clever, supercompetent op, is a theme in mysteries: Nero and Archie, Spenser and Hawk, and now Cole and Pike... and more i'm sure... i have to say, Parker's books are the best imo; the interplay between Spenser and Hawk is clever and original and S's literary comments are very engaging... tx for the recommend; i'll undoubtedly read more Crais...

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  5. Oh, VOODOO RIVER isn't the best by far (but it's the one where Elvis meets Lucy Chenier), but it's the one I started with and it led me to the others so maybe you'll go that route at some point. I'd try FREE FALL and/or LULLABY TOWN and definitely INDIGO SLAM before L.A. REQUIEM, if you want a hint. :)

    I love Parker's books as well. And I simply adore Wolfe and Archie. But my heart was won by Joe Pike in L.A. REQUIEM. Sigh.

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  6. Amazing covers. My favorite is The Mystery of the Shaky Staircase, although the cover of Dumb Witness is pretty good too.

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    1. Two good ones, Tracy. But they're all good. :)

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  7. I only wanted to go to school so I could learn to read and read Nancy Drew by myself instead of hoping my older sister would read to me. But I only collect the original stories, none of the rewrites from the 1960s.
    So many great covers and so many great authors. Old lady mind also covers the fact that I didn't get the theme until I was 3/4 of the way down the list, right? Then, duh!
    Also, I've recently discovered George Bellairs via e-books and I'm really enjoying them. I'm also a fan of Ellery Queen for the period atmosphere. Thank goodness there are so many good mysteries out there!

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    1. And thank goodness, if all else fails, we can pick them up on Kindle. :) That's where I've found several good vintage authors. Though I much prefer an 'actual' book, sometimes that's just not possible. I just ordered two Ellery Queen books from Abe and can't wait for them to arrive. I've also read a couple of Bellairs books and enjoyed them, Joan. I plan to read more.

      I don't collect Nancy Drew books (and lucky you if you have the old ones) but I know what you mean about the rewrites. Give me the originals every time. I have a board on Pinterest called NANCY DREW AND FRIENDS and there I post every single cover I can find though I mainly concentrate on the old stuff. I also post the Hardy Boys and all manner of other 'books for girls and boys' from that era. Love it.

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    2. Oh, that's so cool! I'll have a look. Life is so complicated these days. I long for the days of losing myself in a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book.

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  8. Sorry to be late to the party, some great covered here Yvette - I especially like the French book (though I hope it's not as dodgy as the title makes it sound).

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    1. John liked that one best too, Sergio. In fact, he found a copy and ordered it. Can't wait to see what he makes of it.

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