This week I wrote to the staff at The Mysterious Bookshop to see whether they would be interested in carrying Dead on Her Feet. I have a special appreciation for this book store. I was living in NYC in the early ’90’s and at the time was very interested in following the influences of some of my favorite mystery writers. I forget exactly which author I was trying to trace. Earl Derr Biggers maybe?
Otto Penzler, the proprietor, turned me on to a wonderful writer from the 30’s – E. Phillips Oppenheim. I love these older authors. They wrote in a way we could never get away with today. Partly because of their use of language, partly because of their world views.
This is the first sentence from The Dumb Gods Speak, Chapter 1:
“At 10:43 on a morning when the deep blue sea of the Mediterranean was flecked with whitecaps and the clear outline of the Esterels suggested a mistral, Mr. Jonson stepped from his compartment in the Train Bleu and, with a suitcase in either hand, alighted upon the platform at Nice.”
When I opened the book, a letter fell out. From the author to Lady Gosford, on Cunard stationary.
Apparently he was too ill to accept her invitation. To dine? We will never know.
But books like this connect me to another time. I would never have had this opportunity to sail away with E. Phillips Oppenheim if it hadn’t been for a conversation I struck up with Otto Penzler at his book shop.
Is there a book shop you particularly love? A special book you wouldn’t have found without their help?