RARA-AVIS: UK Noir Month

From: T.Kent Morgan ( tkmorgan@shaw.ca)
Date: 13 Aug 2002

I was lucky enough to spend part of UK Noir month tracking down books in the UK. That included a trip to the world's first booktown, Hay-On-Wye in Wales. I also was at the (British) Open the day the weather beat Tiger Woods, but that's a story better left for a sports list. I was able to catch up by reading the archives and then digests for several days, but the computer I had access to didn't allow me to send properly formatted messages to the list as I heard from the list owner when I tried. Hopefully, you will bear with me as I respond to some of the threads over the next few days.

My initial reaction when I visited the chain bookstores in Yorkshire was that they didn't carry much UK crime. You could find Rankin, Robinson, McDermid, Hill, James, etc. along with the popular American writers such as James Lee Burke, Grafton, Connelly, Coben, Lehane, Cornwell, both Parkers, et al. Also plenty of George Pelecanos. Mark Billingham's Sleepy Head also received prominent shelf space. Later in the trip Billingham's latest, Scaredy Cat, was being pushed with Waterstone's discounting it from 10.99 to 7.99 (all prices in pounds).

My first surprise came when I visited a Bookends store in the Yorkshire Outlet Mall. Bookends handles remainders that are not marked like North American remainders so you can find first editions in almost new condition. After picking up a TPBO of Graham Hurley's Turnstone for 1.99, I spotted a table of books with a sign marked down 50% from the sale price. The books were No Exit Press PBOs and reprints. I walked away with the Charles Willeford Omnibus (Cockfighter, Pick-Up and The Burnt Orange Heresy) for 1.99 along with The Machine in Ward Eleven and a double of High Priest of California and Wild Wives each for .99. Also bought Jason Starr's Nothing Personal and Fake I.D., Fred Willard's PBO of Princess Naughty and the Voodoo Cadillac and Dark by Kenji Jasper. I had read good things about the Starrs and the Jasper in Crime Time.

I couldn't resist Anthony Frewin's Scorpian Rising for .99 when it was billed as 'a seaside noir." More about it and my other successful forays into finding UK Noir in future messages.

Kent Morgan back home in Winnipeg

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