RARA-AVIS: what is it about Black Wings Has My Angel?

From: Greg Swan ( greg@swans.org)
Date: 11 Feb 2000

I've been boiling over with curiousity about one hardboiled book: Black Wings Has My Angel, by Elliot Chaze.

In a Paperback Parade article, Barry Gifford claimed that this book had been the hardest to find of all the titles he really wanted to publish under Black Lizard. I'm not sure why it didn't get published. It may have been that he couldn't get the rights to it or it may have been that Black Lizard sold before it could be printed and the new publisher had no interest.

Nonetheless, as I've watched over the past couple years, even beat-up copies of this novel have routinely gone for $80 on ebay. Right now, there a nice copy with a current bid of $128 http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=254562883 . And it's not even retail customers bidding on the thing. These are DEALERS like Lost Dutchman and Black Ace competing with each other. Presumably, if they win the bid, these dealers plan to sell it for much more. Heck, even a 1960s reprint by Berkley (I think that was the publisher) of Angel goes for big bucks.

Yes I know it's a Gold Medal novel, so there should be strong demand for it. BUT it's one of the less-interesting Gold Medal covers. Also, Chaze only wrote this one hardboiled novel amongst his more literary works. Gold Medal books by more popular HB authors like Harry Whittington or Gil Brewer or Charles Williams go for quite a bit of money, but nothing like this.

So what is it with Black Wings Has My Angel? Is this a rare hardboiled/noir treat that's worth $128 because the story is so damned good . . . or is it something else?

- Greg Swan

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