Tuesday 28 November 2023

Whispering City

The latest title in Montreal publisher Vehicule Press's Ricochet imprint has just been published.

Whispering City was first published in 1947 as a paperback original by Global Publishing Company in Pickering, Ontario, a city just east of Toronto. The publisher was Horace Brown who was also the author. It is a novelization of a movie which takes place in Quebec City that was released in both French and English. 

The new edition has an introduction by series editor Brian Busby and the original foreword by the author. Unable to be reproduced are three photos from the movie on the inside covers and back cover. Also unseen is a "Camera Quiz" from the original edition. This is a set of 12 photos from the movie with captions and the reader is invited to put them in their correct order after reading the book.

Global Publishing -1947

Global Publishing - back

Vehicule Press - 2023

Vehicule Press - back

Monday 7 August 2023

Newspaper Novels Part I

Recently I did a series on the Star Weekly Novels which were published from 1938 to 1973 as inserts in the Saturday Toronto Star, one of 21 US and three Canadian  newspapers with novel inserts that I've so far identified. 

There is very little information on these inserts on-line but I've cobbled together lists totaling 2750. An early guess is 10,000 to 12,000 were published. The dates so far are 1919 to 1973. At least nine US newspapers used inserts produced in Canada, just changing the newspaper name on the first page.

Here are three US examples. The Philadelphia Inquirer Gold Seal Novel was published from 1934 to 1949 and, unlike the Long Island Sunday Press Sunday Novel, is an original novel insert.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, November 2, 1941 - The Affair of the Circus Queen by Clifford Knight, illustrated by Harry Weinert

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, August 10, 1941 - A World in Spell by D. E. Stevenson, illustrated by Harry Weinert

Long Island Sunday Press, Sunday, November 13, 1949 - Lord of Atlantis by John Russell Fearn, illustrated by William Book. First published as Toronto Star Weekly Complete Novel, October 8, 1949

The Philadelphia Inquirer - November 2, 1941

The Philadelphia Inquirer - August 10, 1941

Long Island Sunday Press - November 13, 1949

Saturday 1 July 2023

156 and Counting

The British North American Act, enacted March 29, 1867 by the British Parliament, provided for Confederation of the three British North American colonies, Canada (Upper and Lower), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Now much amended as the Constitution Act, 1867, it was proclaimed into law on July 1, 1867 and Canada was born. The first official birthday celebration was in 1868, July 1 being named Dominion Day in 1879 and Canada Day in 1982.

Star Weekly Novels were distributed with the Toronto Star every Saturday for 36 years. But they were not the only novel inserts in Canadian newspapers. Montreal's The Standard also brought novels into mid-century English language Canadian homes, competing with bookstores, commercial book clubs and the local newsstands, drug and cigar stores. Romance, crime, Westerns, historical, thrillers, all available. Here are some examples.

The Standard Book of the Week - June 4, 1960

The Standard Book of the Week - July 26, 1947

The Standard Book of the Week - May 10, 1947

Thursday 29 June 2023

Star Weekly Novel - Part VI

I've mentioned that I estimate around 1880 Star Weekly Novels were published. This assumes they were published every week from 1938 to 1973. So far the oldest I've seen is May 1938 and latest is November 1973. 

The number of titles is an estimated 1700. The reason is a number of two- and three-part novels were published from 1960 to 1973. That works out to an average 2.1 books for each of the estimated 800 authors. Here are three who are among the estimated 600 with only one book.

Murder's Web by Dorothy Dunn (1913-1952) who published over sixty short stories in pulps but this appears to be her only novel. First published by Harper & Row (1951).

Rendezvous on an Island by Tod Claymore (1898-1964), pseudonym for Hugh Desmond Clevely. First published by Cassell (1957).

Black William by Robert Neill (1905-1979). First published by Hutchinson (1955).

Star Weekly Novel - August 26, 1950

Star Weekly Novel - August 20, 1955

Star Weekly Novel - December 7, 1957

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Star Weekly Novel Part V

I've mentioned authors and artists in earlier Star Weekly Novel posts. Here I'll start looking at genres. The series lasted for 36 years and nicely lines up with the middle third of the 20th century. From the annexation of Austria into the German Reich and the discovery of fission in 1938 to Watergate and the oil shock in 1973.

It was a time when the number of readers in the US and Canada grew very fast. The post war world of increased education levels and popularity of cheap paperbacks are some of the reasons for this change. The popular fiction genres were historical, romance, crime/thriller and Westerns. I don't yet have any numbers but each is well represented among the Star Weekly Novels.

Here are three Westerns.

Boss of the OK by Brett Rider, pseudonym of Arthur Henry Gooden (1879-1971)

The Galloping Ghost by William Colt MacDonald (1891-1968)

The Big Corral by Archie Joscelyn (1899-1986)

Star Weekly Complete Novel - December 29, 1951

Star  Weekly Complete Novel - May 8, 1943

Star Weekly Complete Novel - October 23, 1948

Sunday 18 June 2023

Star Weekly Novel Part IV

I've been able to find title/author information for 1460 Star Weekly Novels, 80% of the estimated 1880 published. So far I have identified the artwork on only 93 issues. There are 34 separate artists. Here are some examples.

Dance Without Music is illustrated by Mabel McDermott (?-?).  

Stranger in the Little House has an illustration by someone well known to readers of this blog - Harlequin cover artist Paul Anna Soik (1919-1999).

Where is Jenny Now? - art by American George Sottung (1927-1999). Here is more on this novel.

Star Weekly Complete Novel - December 3, 1960

Star Weekly Complete Novel - September 11, 1948

Star Weekly Complete Novel - January 11, 1958

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Star Weekly Novel Part III

In the first part of this series about the "Star Weekly Complete Novel" series of newspaper inserts I estimate that around 1880 issues were published. I continue to work on an accurate and complete list for this fascinating series. This post is about the authors.

I estimate there are between 750 and 850 authors whose works were published. From Edward S. Aarons to Phyllis Brett Young and Erle Stanley Gardner with at least 64 to Betty Friedan with one.

Here are some examples.

Star Weekly Complete Novel - July 21, 1945

Star Weekly Complete Novel - July 19,1947

Star Weekly Complete Novel - October 2, 1943

Monday 12 June 2023

Jesse James in Canada

Jesse James (1847-1882) came to Canada thanks to the self-styled "king of the Canadian pulp writers", Thomas P. Kelley

Kelley wrote a biography of James that was published by Toronto's Export Publishing Enterprises in their News Stand Library imprint. Export put out two editions with different numbers, one for each of the Canadian and US markets. The US version came in two variants, one with and one without a dust jacket.

Less well known is a shorter version published in Outlaws Ride the Range, a collection from Toronto's Pastime Publications described as an "Action Novel". Published circa 1946/47 for the post war UK market, it is a rare book, and Kelley is using one of his many pseudonyms, T. P. Monahon. The book has 15 chapters, the first five about various "outlaws", the last ten on James. Here is a detailed look at the book but I'll focus on chapters six through 15.

Chapter six is titled "Bad Bill" and describes the life of Bill Bailey who is killed by James. The first chapter in Export's book is titled "What Happened at the 'Bucket of Blood'". The first few paragraphs are different then the versions are nearly identical. The Export book has a further 16 chapters vs nine in the Pastime version. Here is how they line up, Export first then Pastime.

Chapter 3 ---> Chapter 7

Chapter 4 ---> Chapter 8

Chapter 5 ---> Chapter 9

Chapter 6 ---> Chapter 10

Chapters 7 and 8 ---> Chapters 11, 12 and 13

Chapter 9 ---> Chapter 14

Chapter 13 ---> Chapter 15

Export chapters 2, 10-12, 14-17 are not in the Pastime version. I haven't done a detailed comparison of the chapters but I would guess over 95% of the texts are identical.

News Stand Library 92 and 15A - January 1950

News Stand Library 92 and 15A back

News Stand Library 15A with Dust Jacket - January 1950

Pastime Publications [nn]

Wednesday 31 May 2023

Harlequin Mysteries - Raven House Part V

 "Agents and authors simply believed that Raven House was an ideal dumping ground for trunk manuscripts, failed proposals, and any old shlock that they happened to have lying around"

    Helen Heller, Raven House editor, quoted in Paul Grescoe, The Merchants of Venus (Raincoast Books, 1996), page 147.

Continuing our look at Harlequin's Raven House imprint's authors.

The first is Christina Blake. Like Richard A. Moore, her two Raven House books appear to be the only ones ever published. George Ogan had three titles issued by Raven House. But he was someone at the end of his career (he died in 1983) so these are likely the "lying around" type. 

The next author is the best known of Raven House's forty authors - Cornell Woolrich with over forty movies made from his novels and short stories. His one book for Raven House was the last in the series and is one of only two Raven House Mysteries that remain in print.

Raven House Mysteries 11 - November 1980

Raven House Mysteries 11 back

Raven House Mysteries 12 - November 1980

Raven House Mysteries 12 back

Raven House Mysteries 72 - August 1981

Raven House Mysteries 72 back

Monday 29 May 2023

Harlequin Mysteries - Raven House Part IV

"Agents and authors simply believed that Raven House was an ideal dumping ground for trunk manuscripts, failed proposals, and any old shlock that they happened to have lying around"

    Helen Heller, Raven House editor, quoted in Paul Grescoe, The Merchants of Venus (Raincoast Books, 1996), page 147.

This quote is a good place to start looking at the forty authors published by Raven House. 

Nine had only Raven House titles which had been published earlier, twenty-seven had only paperback originals and four had both. We've already seen one author, Lana Hutton Bowen-Judd, who published ten originals in one year with Raven. I don't know if they were "shlock" but that many titles must have been "lying around" as the author was nearly 60.

Gary Paulsen's (1939-2021) two books with Raven House are among his over 200 books published from 1966 to 2022. In contrast Richard A. Moore's two Raven House books appear to be his only novels.

Raven House  Mysteries 17 - December 1980

Raven House Mysteries 17 back

Raven House Mysteries 7 - October 1980

Raven House Mysteries 7 back

Raven House Mysteries 20 - December 1980

Raven House Mysteries 20 back

Sunday 28 May 2023

Harlequin Mysteries - Raven House Part III

In addition to selling Raven House Mysteries on Canadian newsstands and in drug and cigar stores (and maybe bookstores), Harlequin had a subscription plan which is found on the last page of the books. New subscribers received the first four books free plus, each month, four new books. Total cost was $7/month with free shipping.

The first four books had the words "introductory copy" circling the number in the top right front cover and the price had a stroke through it. There is a fifth book with this description but it is unnumbered and is not mentioned in the subscription plan ads. This appears to be a promotional title for the series.

The first books had a September 1980 published date. Oddly they have an April 1980 printing date. Other books (at least to December 1980) follow the same pattern with the print date six or seven months before the published date. Seems odd to print and warehouse hundreds of thousands of books and tie up capital for half-a-year.

Raven House Mysteries (nn) - September 1980

Raven House Mysteries 1 - September 1980

Raven House Mysteries 7 - October 1980

Raven House Mysteries 7 subscription ad

Friday 26 May 2023

Harlequin Mysteries - Raven House Part II

In my first post about Harlequin imprint Raven House I listed the 74 books in the series. Here is more about this now obscure series.

The publisher is Worldwide Library. Harlequin is never mentioned but Worldwide's address is Harlequin's head office in Toronto (still there in 2023). Obviously Harlequin wanted to protect their romance brand and not confuse their intended mystery reader audience.

I said there are 43 authors with Raven House books. But four are pseudonyms for an author whose name is Lana Hutton Bowen-Judd (1922-1985). The Sara Woods books were previously published. The other ten were first published as Raven House Mysteries. Here are her 13 Raven House books.

5       Burton, Anne              The Dear Departed

17     Burton, Anne              Where There's a Will

57     Burton, Anne              Worse Than a Crime

1       Challis, Mary              Crimes Past

13     Challis, Mary               Burden of Proof

53     Challis, Mary               The Ghost of an Idea

69     Challis, Mary               A Very Good Hater

9       Leek, Margaret           The Healthy Grave

29     Leek, Margaret            We Must Have a Trial

66     Leek, Margaret            Voice of the Past

21     Woods, Sara               The Knavish Crows

48     Woods, Sara               They Love Not Poison

nn     Woods, Sara               Though I Know She Lies

Raven House Mysteries 1 - September 1980

Raven House Mysteries 1 back

Raven House Mysteries 17 - December 1980

Raven House Mysteries 17 back

Raven House Mysteries (nn) - September 1980

Raven House Mysteries (nn) back

Harlequin Mysteries - Raven House Part I

"The first batch of a new imprint, Raven House mysteries, contains eight books, all paperbacks priced at $2.25 and written by members of the Mystery Writers of America: A FRAGRANT DEATH (#1) by Christina Blake, THE MOSES BOTTLE (#3) by Russell Mead, DEATH IN THE PAST (#4) by Richard A. Moore, DRILLING FOR DEATH (#7) by John Wolfe, TO GUARD THE RIGHT (#8) by Hugh Zachary, RED IS FOR SHROUDS (#6) by Mary Ann Taylor, DANGER ON CUE (#2) by Rebecca Holland and TO KILL A JUDGE (#5) by George Ogan.

This first series is not exactly auspicious. It contains some dreadful hack writing, the low point of which is to be found in ''Danger on Cue.'' This is prose of the ''Paul's lips found mine'' variety. Paul also has hazel eyes with a ''direct, penetrating glance'' (of which the reader is constantly reminded). The best entry is probably ''To Kill a Judge,'' though the ending is overly theatrical. ''Red Is for Shrouds'' has a decent buildup toward the end, when a beleaguered sheriff solves a multiple murder case during a town meeting. Otherwise, it is hard to recommend much in this unimaginative series. "

              Newgate Callendar, New York Times November 15, 1981

Raven House Mysteries was a 74 book Harlequin imprint lasting, not surprising given the above review, only from 1980 to 1982. Callendar is wrong about Raven House being a new imprint. The first book was released in September 1980 and the last (#72) is dated August 1981. Harlequin then renumbered a number of books, likely for the US market, and this is the first group with a September 1981 date. 

There are 57 paperback originals and 17 previously published titles from 43 different authors. The first book is unnumbered and described as an "introductory copy" on the front cover.     

        Woods, Sarah            Though I Know She Lies
1 Challis, Mary         Crimes Past
2 Taylor, Mary Ann Red is for Shrouds
3 Gillespie, Robert B. The Crossword Mystery
4 Howard, James A. Murder Takes a Wife
5 Burton, Anne         The Dear Departed
6 Wolfe, John         Drilling for Death
7 Moore, Richard A. Death in the Past
8 Shannon, Dell         Rain With Violence
9 Leek, Margaret         The Healthy Grave
10 Kane, Henry         The Midnight Man
11 Ogan, George         To Kill a Judge
12 Blake, Christina         A Fragrant Death
13 Challis, Mary         Burden of Proof
14 Williams, Wynn         Take the Money and Die
15 Gault, William      The Bad Samaritan
16 Masur, Harold Q.       Send Another Hearse
17 Burton, Anne         Where There's a Will
18 Holland, Rebecca Danger on Cue
19 Zachary, Hugh         To Guard the Right
20 Paulsen, Gary         The Sweeper
21 Woods, Sara         The Knavish Crows
22 Mead, Russell         The Moses Bottle
23 Taylor, Mary Ann Return to Murder
24 Fleet, Charles         A Place Like Hessberg
25 Block, C. Burke     Art for Keeps
26 Waugh, Hillary         The Glenna Powers Case
27 Blom, K. Arne         The Limits of Pain
28 O'Callaghan, Maxine Death is Forever
29 Leek, Margaret         We Must Have a Trial
30 Levi, Peter                 The Head in the Soup
31 Goulart, Ron         Ghosting
32 Ogan, George         Murder in the Wind
33 Fox, James M.         The Wheel is Fixed
34 Gillespie, Robert B. Little Sally Does it Again
35 St. James, Bernard April Thirtieth
36 Taschdjian, Claire Classified Death
37 Gault, William      The Cana Diversion
38 Moore, Richard A. Death of a Source
39 Walker, Irma         Murder in 25 Words or Less
40 Wise, William         The Amazon Factor
41 Howard, James A. Death Audit
42 Julian, Robert         Murder in Focus
43 Mead, Russell         The Nightingale Trivet
44 Wick, Carter         Dark House, Dark Road
45 Fox, James M.         A Shroud for Mr. Bundy
46 O'Callaghan, Maxine Run From Nightmare
47 Paulsen, Gary     Clutterkill
48 Woods, Sara         They Love Not Poison
49 Zachary, Hugh         Top Level Death
50 Shannon, Dell         Case Pending
51 Waugh, Hillary         The Doria Rafe Case
52 Blake, Christina         Deadly Legacy
53 Challis, Mary         The Ghost of an Idea
54 Maron, Margaret On Coffee With
55 Ogan, George         Murder by Proxy
56 Roberts, Willo Davis The Face at the Window
57 Burton, Anne         Worse Than a Crime
58 Mead, Russell         The Third One
59 Pici, J.R.                 The Papa Legacy
60 Sadler, Mark         Touch of Death
61 Fox, James M.         The Coven
62 Masur, Harold Q. The Mourning After
63 MacKellar, Sinclair Prompt for Murder
64 Shannon, Dell         The Ace of Spades
65 Howard, James A. Friday is a Killing Day
66 Leek, Margaret         Voice of the Past
67 Walker, Irma         The Man In the Driver's Seat
68 Waugh, Hillary         The Billy Cantrell Case
69 Challis, Mary         A Very Good Hater
70 Dunlap, Susan         Karma
71 O'Donohoe, Nick April Snow
72 Woolrich, Cornell The Bride Wore Black

Plus one book published only in the second series.

33 Halliday, Brett     Dividend on Death

Raven House Mysteries 6 - October 1980

Raven House Mysteries 6 back

Raven House Mysteries 17 - December 1980

Raven House Mysteries 17 back