Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:38 PM PDT
There is a dusty little desert town straddling the Utah-Nevada border fringing the southern edge of I-80. A ninety minute run from Salt Lake City. The dull crystalline salt flats hustle into the rocky foothills of the Silver Island Mountains. The flats stretch for miles. In the winter they flood with water, and the summer finds rocket cars, motor cycles, and just about anything else on two or four wheels, playing for speed on its flat, straight surface.
The place: Wendover, Utah.
And it has a history. It was built in 1908 as a railroad town, and pretty much stayed that way until World War 2 brought an Army bomber training base. If it was a B-24, and flew in Europe, there is a good chance plane and crew touched Wendover. Its most famous trainees were the crews of Enola Gay, and Bockscar. The fliers and B-29s that dropped “Little Boy” and “Fatman” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The old structures, clapboard barracks, box style hangars, concrete swimming pool, rot in the dry air. A light blue sky above, and a faded alkaline earth below.
The casinos came in the early-1950s. They came to lure the Mormon population of Salt Lake City across the border to sin. And it worked. The Nevada side—called West Wendover—has prospered. The casinos hatched a fully functional small city—schools, neighborhoods, parks, parents, and children. The east has been stagnant, and poor. Its only draw is the collapsing old base, the airport, and an old propellerless C-123 Provider with a sign identifying it as the airplane used in the film “Con Air”.
Its tires flat, a wooden ramp providing access to its starboard door. A fading blue runner, or cheatline, on its silver fuselage. Faded block letters, just aft of the wings and above the door, read: UNITED STATES MARSHAL. The number N709RR painted on the tail. The words “The Jailbird” below an eagle with a ball and chain in its talons on the nose. The markings are right; matching perfectly with the “The Jailbird” from the film. The interior is torn apart. A cavernous bay occupies the majority. Bare aluminum walls, the odd wire lifting from the surface. A Gatorade bottle jammed in an I-beam near the ceiling.
The cockpit is barren. Aluminum shine with little else. Two small windows stare at the desolate desert. The original stick—wheel, I think, in this case—is replaced with something like a steering wheel from a bus. If it ever flew it was long ago. In the film the old airbase fronted for “Turner Field”; the desert location where the convict crew landed and most of the film’s action happened. If you look around you can see it. The unpainted clapboard buildings. The rotting airplane hangars, a vintage control tower—now restored—and a swimming pool, its surface covered with peeling blue paint where Steve Buscemi likely took tea with an unsuspecting girl and her dolls.
I have wondered about the plane for years. What its role in the film actually was, and, if it was airworthy then, why leave it to die? I did some research, finally, and what I found was as interesting as the airplane. It is a movie star, or nearly one. “Stand in” is more accurate. It was never flown in the film, but it was used as the Earth bound plane for the desert scenes. It taxied along the Wendover runways, a bus engine powering its wheels. It was in the film, and it played a central role, but it wasn’t the star. Instead it was a prop; part of the scenery. Very much like the abandoned airbase itself.
But still, it is pretty cool.
“You write this one,” LB said. Graciously, all Lady Bountiful, like I ought to welcome the chance as an opportunity for personal growth. Right.
I’ll start with the auction. If I manage to time this email correctly, the auction will be live on eBay by the time you read this. The first lot goes on view at 5pm Eastern time on Wednesday, October 29, and they pop into play every ten or fifteen minutes until around 8:30. (And one item, a nice new Random House edition of The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza, is already live, because I skipped a step and posted it immediately instead of setting a delayed start time. The culpa, as LB would say, is entirely mea. I mention it because the effect is that it gets hammered down a day earlier than the others, so you’ll want to pay attention to closing times. It closes Sunday afternoon. The others close Monday evening.)
And what’s in the auction? Several items from LB’s mother’s library, some of them personally inscribed to her, others identifiable as such by her address label on the flyleaf. These include Burglar and Scudder first editions, a Penzler Books Tanner hardcover, and a scarce galley of When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. We’ve also included small-press limited production—a gorgeous ASAP Press first edition of Ehrengraf For the Defense, the G&G boxed limited lettered edition of In the Midst of Death with the Martin Cruz Smith intro, and the boxed limited Dark Harvest edition of Time to Murder and Create, signed by both LB and Jonathan Kellerman. It’ll take you less time to see the 18 items for yourself than you’d spend reading an explanation from me, so I’ll stop now. Just click this link and see for yourself.
Besides the auction lots, I’ve been able to add several new books to the bookstore listings, and dropped the price on some popular items. Additions include signed copies of some of LB’s foreign-language editions. A couple of years ago, when LB moved his office, we wound up discarding many boxes of books for lack of space—and we hated to do it. So I’ve put up a batch of French and Spanish and Portuguese and Italian and Chinese books and priced them at $9.99 apiece with free domestic shipping, and if they find a market I’ll post more.
Oh, here’s one you can’t have for $9.99, and isn’t it beautiful? It’s a 4-volume boxed set of the Chip Harrison series, and I’m posting a picture of one side of the box here, but you’ll want to see the Pop Art covers of the individual books in the store listing. We’ve got five of these, and my guess is they’re the only ones to be found outside of China. Our price is $39.99, and we can only ship this item to US addresses. What an great gift for someone who can read Chinese! And so what if you can’t? I’d like to have one of these myself, just to put on the shelf, and I can’t even cope with the Specials menu at the Golden Panda.
What else? A batch of ARCs, four or five new audiobooks, and a couple of boxed lots of signed paperbacks you wouldn’t know about unless you saw our Facebook posts. 8 Burglar paperbacks, 8 Scudder paperbacks—all of them signed, which makes them great stocking stuffers. (Alas, we can’t ship these large lots to addresses outside the US. Sorry!)
Did I mention that we’ve cut some prices? The most dramatic reduction—was $99.99, now $39.99—is for the UK hardcover edition of Even the Wicked. Check the listing to see what makes it special. As for what made us drop the price through the floor, well, LB realized he’d rather sell the books than have them on the shelf where he can admire them.
We’ve reduced several popular trade paperbacks as well. A Drop of the Hard Stuff is now $4.99, Hit Me and Getting Off are $9.99. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit, LB’s most popular writing book, is rare in hardcover, and we’ve been selling signed first editions for $24.99. But, see, we haven’t been selling many of them, and while the book’s scarce everywhere else, it’s not scarce in our storeroom—so I’ve just cut the price clear down to $9.99. Now that’s been our price for the paperback edition, and how can we sell them both for the same price? I asked LB, and he said to revise the paperback listing so that it’s still $9.99 but the shipping is free. So that what’s I’ve done.
When A Walk Among the Tombstones opened last month in theaters worldwide, we were able to obtain a supply of posters and lobby cards, and sold more than half of them right away. But we had a problem with the 11 x 17 lobby cards. We mailed them flat, and while most of them arrived with no trouble, a few postal employees ignored our DO NOT FOLD instructions, and when a couple of buyers complained, LB had me take the item off sale entirely. So here’s what we’re doing: We want to sell off the remaining 15 copies of the 27 x 40 poster, and if you buy one we’ll include a lobby card absolutely free; it’ll ship safely in the same square tube as the large poster. You’ll get a nice item at absolutely no cost, and we can stop wondering what to do with the damn things.
I think that’s all. It seems to me there was something else I was supposed to do, perhaps because there almost always is, but I can’t think of it and I’ve already put in too many hours today. There’s probably a better way to phrase that.) Check out the auction, check out the store listing, and get a jump on your Christmas shopping. I’ll be adding items for the next week or so, and probably cutting some more prices while I’m at it, but if you’re a frequent visitor to the store you’ll have a good chance to snap up the one-of-a-kind bargains before I can tell the rest of the world about them. Hot times at LB’s Bookstore, by Jingo!
David Trevor for
LB’s Blog and Website
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by F. Van Wyck Mason
by Aly Monroe
KEN ROTHROCK – The Deadly Welcome. Major Books, paperback original, 1976.
No matter how obscure a book or an author may be — and I believe this one qualifies on both counts — if there’s a PI in it, I will probably read it, or at least give it an all out try.
Rick North, who tells the story in first person, qualifies as a private detective, barely. He’s low man on the totem pole at Taber, Kline and North, an artist’s management firm based in LA, but he’s about to be booted out of the firm unless he finds out who has been threatening the life of Rory Maclaine, one of their clients and a comedian who’s just hit the big time.
Threats are one thing, but when Maclaine collapses and dies on stage after finishing his new act, North, who used to be a comedian himself until he found his career going nowhere, now finds he must solve the case, or else.
After a slightly shaky start, the tale that follows is solid enough, but a clutter of too any characters, all of whom seem to be acting individually in various and sundry ways, slow the story down to a near crawl around the two-thirds point. It has to be hard, in my opinion, for a new writer to maintain his (or her) momentum for the entirety of a full-length novel, no matter what kind of twist you plan on ending it with. And so it is here.
As for the author, Al Hubin in Crime Fiction IV, says that Ken Rothrock is probably Harley Kent Rothrock (1939-1999), but Google reveals no more. This was his only work of detective fiction, a good effort, but cliched. Maybe if North had been better at a quip (he isn’t), the ride would have been a little less bumpy.
Lionel White's The Money Trap-Glenn Ford & Rita Hayworth
(from an older issue of the Film Noir Sentinel)
This is from Vince Keenan's piece on the films that Glen Ford and Rita Hayworth made together. Vince is particularly eloquent on the subject of The Money Trap based on (for me) Lionel White's finest novel of the same name. Don Westlake always acknowledged his debt to White. But he wasn't just talking about the caper novels that helped establish Parker. Get a copy of the novel and you'll find it reads very much like early Westlake hardboiled. As Vince notes, the movie is an especially grim one. And it does have a decided pre-hippie Sixties feel to it. Death in a thousand Danish modern living rooms while consuming a few million martinis.
Hayworth’s star faded as Ford made some of his most successful films. But
his luster had also dimmed by the time they were drawn together for one final
movie that makes the most of their rich history. The pity is hardly anyone saw it.
The Money Trap(1966), like many black-and-white films of the mid-to-late
60s, seems infused with a sense of its own futility. That only intensifies the over-
all mood of melancholy. Naturally, this Burt Kennedy-directed adaptation of a
novel by Lionel White (The Killing) haunted the bottom half of double bills before
vanishing into the ghostly realm of late-night TV.
Ford plays weary LAPD detective Joe Baron. The echo of the name Dave
Bannion from The Big Heat is apt; Joe is a wised-up Dave back on the force and
opting to coast. He’s married to a wealthy younger woman (Elke Sommer), and
that’s taking a toll. The Money Trapsurrounds him with flesh – Sommer teasingly
undressing at the edge of the frame, loads of curvy women in garter belts – all of
it fueling Joe’s fear that living off his wife’s money has diminished him as a man.
The missus begins having cash flow problems just as Joe catches the case of
a thief gunned down in front of a safe by Mob physician Joseph Cotten. Joe and
his partner (a bristling Ricardo Montalban) scheme to heist the safe’s contents
themselves. When Joe approaches the thief’s widow he’s stunned to discover that
it’s Rosalie (Hayworth), his first love from the old neighborhood. At that point The
Money Trapbecomes more than a solid crime drama. It’s transformed into a med-
itation on age and memory.
Hayworth’s ravaged, almost unrecognizable face retains its bearing. This is a
woman who was once a queen, and Ford will always regard her as one. “Tell me
how you been,” Joe implores. “I been around,” Rosalie replies. When Joe offers a
heartfelt “It’s good to see you, Rosie,” the look she gives him is shattering.
A quarrel with his wife sends Joe back to Rosalie, who’s living in the build-
ing where they first made love. They reminisce about the old days, comparing their
grim realities to the dreams of their youth. They sleep together, the weathered hunk
and the withered beauty giving each other some small bit of comfort in the long