Saturday, September 15, 2018

After Bouchercon 2018: Post One, In Search of Treasures

It is almost a week since Bouchercon 2018 closed up its books, and all we lovers and creators of mystery and crime stories said our fond farewells until we meet again, probably in a book venue over mystery and crime.  Today's post isn't my recap.  That will come in a couple of days.  This post is about my treasure hunt.  Each Bouchercon I try to find something in the Book Room that is special, maybe just special to me, but something outside the ordinary of my enthusiastic new book buying.  This year I had two special finds, and it should come as no surprise that Mystery Mike's was the vendor where I discovered my treasures.

I'm always on the hunt for first editions or even some second edition of books that I've loved to read, and I'm still trying to finish out replacing some paperbacks in favorite series with hardbacks.  I hit gold this year when my eyes fell upon a hardback of Julia Spencer-Fleming's first book in the Rev. Clare Fergusson  and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, a series I adore, and In the Bleak Midwinter was a first edition.  Woohoo and dance for joy!  But, my surprise didn't end there.  The book was already flat-signed, and when I asked Julia to add my name to the title page, she cautioned me that I might not want her to do that, that she had seen a first edition of it worth a pretty penny lately.  Did I mention that this hardback first edition of In the Bleak Midwinter was in mint condition?  Oh, dear Julia, thank you for your advice.  Here is a picture of this treasure:

My second find is actually a series of finds, something I had no idea existed.  In New Orleans, I bought a vintage pocket size Penguin book and loved it, so I wanted to try to find another one this year.  Again, at Mystery Mike's what drew my eye were several small tubs of vintage Dell paperbacks, small "pocket" size books started in production in 1942 and made in this small, convenient size that mimicked Dell's rival paperback publisher, Pocket Books.  In the front of one tub were some Agatha Christie's, and upon turning them over, there were these fabulous maps of either a room or a building or even St. Mary Mead's village.  I was beyond giddy.  I love maps in books, and maps, colorful and vintage, well, if I could have turned cartwheels I would have.  But, there weren't just Agatha Christie's in these magical tubs, I found several Margaret Millars and some others.  I bought them all!  All, that is, except for the one that was $100.  I decided that it was too expensive, but now I'm wishing that I'd splurged.  However, I am more than happy with the collection I now have sitting on my shelf.  I still have them in their plastic wraps, which is how they will probably stay.  I will no doubt at some point take them out and look at them, but for now, I want to keep my babies safe and undisturbed.  And, read to the end of this post, past my pics, to a couple of links to a fascinating article you won't want to miss on these vintage collectibles.  I think I have a new obsession.

All of the Dell Mapbacks I Bought, Fronts and Backs:

Just the Agatha Christie Mapbacks, Fronts and Backs:

The Non-Agatha Mapbacks, Fronts and Backs:

How lucky am I that J. Kingston Pierce just did a magnificent article on the Dell Mapbacks for CrimeReads, tracing their history and explaining the different kinds, which include Floor Plans, Birds-Eye View, and Regional Representations.  He includes great, clear illustrations of each kind, and I was excited to learn I had a copy of one, Made Up to Kill by Kelley Roos (pen name for husband and wife, Audrey Kelley and William Roos).  Here's the link to that fascinating article: 

And, Pierce expands on the examples of the Mapbacks in his article on the blog Killer Covers, with pictures of fifteen additional mapbacks and their illustrators that didn't fit in the confines of the CrimeReads piece.   So, here is that link:    


  1. Loved reading about your treasure hunting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Triss! The treasure hunting is always a fun part for me.