Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dirty Old Book

That's what I'm reading right now. No, not something of questionable taste with pages stuck together, just something old and yellowing. It's got that musty smell and it's a hardback, not something that's common in new novels in our sunburnt country.

The book looks sunburnt, too. Take off the tacky cover with the author photo of Peter Corris sporting equally tacky shades and you have a plain, brown cover. You also have Corris' first book, The Dying Trade.

I've read a couple of much later Cliff Hardy novels, but this is the first in the series that now totals twenty-six, with the latest book only out a couple of months ago.

It's easy to see that like many PI authors, Corris was heavily influenced by Chandler and the like, but it's filtered through Corris' own Australian eyes. A little heavy on the description for my taste, and maybe that's a side effect of it having been written exactly twenty-six years ago. Yes, Corris has written one book a year in the Cliff Hardy series, not to mention Browning, PI and some non-fiction work.

When I started writing my novel, I became obsessed with reading first books of PI series, and this was one that I had a lot of trouble tracking down. Eventually found it online, through a local bookseller of second hand and collector's editions. Fifty pages in, and I'm hooked. Corris always knew what he was doing.

Excuse me, I have to get back to being musty. It gets me all excitable.

Hmm. I feel a strong urge to wash my hands right about now.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Being musty gets you excitable?

There's a new one.

This book looks (and sounds) like a real collector's item, though. A classic.

Daniel Hatadi said...

It would have been a collector's item if someone hadn't written a little birthday note on the first page. Not to worry though, I got completely because I wanted it to be mine.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I've got an 1872 Don Quixote with Dore prints in it that my wife gave me when we were dating.

Yes, being musty can definitely get one excited.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Clearly, this is what I'm doing wrong.

All this time I was thinking perfume...

Anonymous said...

Firsts in series, and Raymond Chandler ... Two of the recent firsts in crime-fiction series that I've read were David Owen's Pig's Head and Shane Maloney's Stiff. In both cases, I'd read other, later books in the series first. In some respects, the earlier books advantages over some of the later ones. And there was that little thrill about seeing the "origins" of certain characters I'd come know from later books. It was kind of like the little thrill I'd kid form reading about the origins of superheroes in my comic-book days.

Re Chandler, the hospital scene near the beginning of The Dying Trade has definite echoes of 1940s American noir, with an interesting spin.

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"