Mystery Books 1960-1969
My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart
After breaking off her six-year engagement, Camilla Haven is taking a holiday alone in Greece. Sitting at a cafe, she laments that nothing exciting ever happens to her when a mysterious gentleman shows up with keys to a car - urging her in a matter of life or death to go to Delphi. Camilla then finds herself in an exciting and dangerous journey. My Brother Michael was first serialized in Argosy magazine from November 1959 - March 1960.
First editions were published by Hodder and Stoughton, London and William & Morrow in 1960. Stewart was one of the most prominent writers in the romantic suspense subgenre, and My Brother Michael was her fifth published novel, preceding her popular series The Merlin Chronicles that began with The Crystal Cave in 1970.
Stranger in My Grave by Margaret Millar
Daisy Harker is a young housewife in California who is plagued by a reoccurring dream where she stumbles upon her own grave dated four years prior. Believing there is some deeper mystery to this dream she hires a private investigator to help her fill in the void in her own memory from that very day.
A Stranger in My Grave was first published in 1960 by Random House. The original dust jacket has a $3.50 price on the front flap.
The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
"The dying woman turned to Father Gorman with agony in her eyes. 'Stopped...it must be stopped...You will....' The priest spoke with reassuring authority. 'I will do what is necessary. You can trust me.'
A dying woman gives her last confession to Father Gorman, a Catholic priest, but along with her confession, she gives him a list of names and a terrible secret. Before he can take action, however, he is struck dead in the fog. As the police begin to investigate, a young hero begins to piece together evidence that sets him upon a converging path.
The Pale Horse was published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1961 and in the US by Dodd, Mead, and Company the following year. The UK edition retailed at fifteen shillings (15/-) and the US edition at $3.75.
Cover Her Face by P.D. James
Cover Her Face is the debut novel of P.D.James. It introduces James’ poetry-writing detective Adam Dalgliesh as he investigates the death of a young ambitious maid. The title comes from a passage in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi: "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle; she died young."
The first edition of Cover Her Face was published by Faber and Faber, London and Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York in 1962. Some American editions claim a first printing in 1966, but there were definitely Scribner’s copies printed in 1962. Depending on the condition and signature/inscription, a first edition can list between $10,000 and $13,000 - although the US first editions list for much less than the UK ones.
The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton
Len Deighton’s first novel and a pioneering espionage thriller, The IPRCRESS File features a nameless protagonist, a spy who is later christened Harry Palmer in film adaptations. When a number of top scientists are kidnapped and reappear brainwashed, Palmer is sent in to investigate - mainly because he’s expendable.
Deighton is considered one of the top spy novelists, along with Ian Fleming and John le Carré. The IPCRESS File was an instant bestseller and the 1965 movie adaptation stars Michael Caine as Harry Palmer.
The IPRCRESS File was first published in 1962 by Simon and Schuster, New York and Hodder and Stoughton, London. The Jacket design is by Raymond Hawke, and the same for both the US and UK edition, which is rare. First editions list from around $1750 to upwards of $3,000.
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carre
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold has been named the “Best Spy Novel of All Time” by Publisher’s Weekly, “Best Crime Novel” by the Crime Writers' Association in 1963, and “Best Mystery Novel” by the Mystery Writers of America in 1965 - the first work to win the award from both writing organizations.
Alec Leamas, an agent for the British Secret Service, takes one final mission into Communist East Germany in the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall. An exciting but complicated story that involves multiple twists and double-crosses, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold has remained a popular classic for over fifty years. Le Carre published two novels just before this one, Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962), both published by Victor Gollancz. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold serves as a sequel to those novels.
First editions, published by Gollancz, London in 1963, can list for around $10,000 if signed. First editions have no subsequent printings noted.
Nerve by Dick Francis
After six years of service in the Royal Air Force during WWII, Dick Francis became a champion horse jockey, winning over 350 races and eventually becoming the jockey for Queen Elizabeth. After a serious fall in 1957, he was advised to retire and began writing, publishing an autobiography The Sport of Queens in 1957 and his first thriller, Dead Cert in 1962. In his second thriller, Nerve, a young misfit jockey from a family of musicians realizes that his losing streak may be due to something sinister, and he takes matters into his own hands when he finds the culprit.
Nerve was published in London by Michael Joseph and New York by Harper and Row, in 1964.
Half of Paradise by James Lee Burke
Half of Paradise revolves around the lives of three very different men in Louisiana in the 1950s; a black longshoreman and boxer, and poor white folk singer, and a fallen Southern aristocrat. Burke wrote this novel at the age of twenty-three, but couldn’t find a publisher for it. When he finally found one it got a six-column review in the New York Times.
He published two more books To the Bright and Shining Sun (1970) and Lay Down My Sword and Shield (1971), and then his next manuscript, The Lost Get-Back Boogie, floated through the submission stage for nine years - getting rejected 111 times. When it was finally published, in 1986 by the Louisiana State University Press, it was nominated for a Pulitzer and is considered the novel that launched his career.
Half of Paradise was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston in 1965. The original dust jacket has a $4.95 price stamp. Signed first editions of Burke’s first book list for around $2,500.
Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes
Cotton Comes to Harlem is the sixth and best known of Chester Himes’ Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson mysteries. Deke O’Hara rigs the collection of a Back-To-Africa rally, but before he can claim his bounty the money is hi-jacked by a white gunman and hidden in a cotton bale. That bale falls off the getaway truck and becomes the center of the investigation, set against the backdrop of 1960s Harlem.
Cotton Comes to Harlem was later adapted into a film starring Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, and Redd Foxx, the movie poster touting Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed as “Two Detectives Only a Mother Could Love.”
First published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1965, with ‘First American edition 1965’ on copyright page. The original US dust jacket has a $4.50 price point. This novel was originally published in France under the title Retour en Afrique (Back to Africa) in 1964 by Librairie Plon.
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lillian Jackson Braun
Mystery author Lillian Jackson Braun’s first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, introduces Jim Qwilleran, known as Quill, a former crime reporter turned newsman, and his brilliant Siamese cat Koko (who can read, but only backward).
In this first book in The Cat Who series, which includes 28 subsequent books, Quill must solve murders in the art world. Described as the perfect cozy mystery for cat lovers, Braun followed The Cat Who Could Read Backwards with two more novels before taking an 18-year hiatus from mystery writing that she felt had too much sex and violence. She resumed her novel-writing career after retiring from the Detroit Free Press and she remained a New York Times bestseller for 20 years beginning in 1990.
First published by E.P. Dutton, NY in 1966. The UK edition published by Collins Crime Club in 1967.
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey
Picnic at Hanging Rock tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of twenty-one female students from an Australian boarding school while on a picnic on St. Valentine’s day in 1900. Although framed as a true story, it is entirely fictional. It is considered by many to be one of the best Australian novels ever written. The author, Joan Lindsay, had married artist Daryl Lindsay at Hanging Rock forty-five years before using the park as a backdrop to her most famous novel.
First editions were published in Melbourne by F.W. Cheshire in 1967. Picnic at Hanging Rock was also reprinted as a paperback by Penguin in 1975. This novel, in very good condition and signed by the author, can list for over $2,300.
God Save the Mark by Donald Westlake
Fred Fitch is what would be considered an easy mark, and when his Uncle Matt is murdered, the inheritance he leaves Fred definitely puts his life on the line. Westlake published over a hundred novels in his lifetime, many under pseudonyms. God Save the Mark was an Edgar Award Winner for Best Novel, one of four Edgar awards given to Westlake.
God Save the Mark was first published by Random House in 1967.
A Case of Need by Jeffrey Hudson
In this medical thriller, a heart surgeon's daughter dies in what seems like a botched abortion, but Dr. John Berry isn't convinced the man arrested, a well-known obstetrician known for performing illegal abortions, is at fault.
Written by Michael Crichton under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson, A Case of Need was Crichton’s fourth novel and his first to be printed in hardcover. This was the only book written under Jeffrey Hudson, although Crichton used other pen names to hide his identity so future patients wouldn't worry about him writing them into his novels. Crichton wrote A Case of Need in ten days during spring break as he finished Harvard Medical School. A Case of Need won the Edgar Award in 1968.
First editions of A Case of Need were printed by New American Library in 1968 have a $5.95 price stamp on the front flap of the original dust jacket.
Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh
Inspector Roderick Alleyn needs to find the faceless murderer ‘Jampot’ who is aboard an English riverboat before any more of the passengers are killed. The ‘Constable’ in the title refers to the English landscape painter John Constable, whose works are mentioned by several characters.
First published by Collins Crime Club, London in 1968, Clutch of Constables is number twenty-five of the Roderick Alleyn novels written by the New Zealand mystery writer Ngaio Marsh. The first US edition was published by Little Brown and Company, Boston in 1969, with ‘First Edition’ on the title page.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Godfather is a classic crime novel by Mario Puzo, detailing the story of the Corleones, a fictional mafia family in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Power, greed, and family loyalty all play out in this portrayal of the mafia underworld which remains a classic in American popular culture.
Author Mario Puzo wrote the book based on his personal need for the cash advance and the paperback rights for The Godfather went on to sell for a record $410,000. The mega-blockbuster 1972 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola featured Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan, among others.
The first editions of The Godfather were published by G.P. Putnam Sons in 1969. The original first edition dust jackets will have a print stamp of $6.95 on the front flap and 6903 on the bottom, indicating it was printed in March of 1969. The back flap has three reviews for The Dark Arena and two reviews of The Fortunate Pilgrim - Puzo's previous books. First editions can list for $5,000 or more and signed and association copies go for much more.
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Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.