Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Author of the Week: Jonathan Latimer


Of the hard-boiled writers of the 1930s, one of the closest in style, mood and characterization to Dashiell Hammett was Jonathan Latimer (1906- especially in the five humorous novels about Bill Crane, an alcoholic private eye. In a successful Hollywood career, Latimer wrote the screenplay for Hammett’s The Glass Key (1942), Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock (1948) and Cornell Woolrich’s The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), as well as numerous scripts for the Perry Mason TV series.

Headed for a Hearse, N.Y., Sun Dial, 1937 (originally published in 1937). Movie edition, with The Westland Case on the title page, with photos of Preston Foster as Bill Crane and the other stars. Very good. $20.00

Headed for a Hearse, Boston, Gregg, 1980. Contains a new introduction by two-time Edgar-winner William DeAndrea. Fine in dust jacket, which has very light wear at lower edge. $35.00

Headed for a Hearse, N.Y., IPL, 1990. Trade paperback edition. $7.50

The Search for My Great-Uncle’s Head, N.Y., IPL, 1989. Originally published under the pseudonym Peter Coffin. Page edges a bit foxed, else fine in dust jacket. $20.00

The Dead Don’t Care, N.Y., Doubleday Crime Club, 1938. First edition. The 4th Bill Crane novel. Covers stained, else very good, tight copy. $30.00

The Fifth Grave, N.Y., Popular Library, 1950. First U.S. edition. Originally published in the U.K. in 1941with the title Solomon’s Vineyard. The U.S. edition was edited to eliminate some controversial language. Last page loose, but attached’ cover crease, else very good in original pictorial wrappers. $25.00

Solomon’s Vineyard, Santa Barbara, CA, Neville, 1982. First U.S. edition of the un-Bowdlerized version and the first U.S. hardcover edition, limited to 300 numbered copies in cloth and 26 lettered copies in full leather, signed by Latimer. This is lettered copy W. Very fine in original glassine dust jacket. $300.00

Sinners and Shrouds, N.Y., Random House, 1955. Ex-library reading copy only. $7.50

Black is the Fashion for Dying, N.Y., Random House, 1959. First edition. Name, else fine in a lightly soiled dust jacket with a closed tear at lower front hinge. A locked room mystery. $25.00

The Mink-Lined Coffin, London, Methuen, 1960. First U.K. edition. Fine in dust jacket. $45.00

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