Thursday, March 23, 2017


Here we are at the fourth and final row this photo gives us access to. Sad, ain't it? We'll all be up nights wondering what Steve has stashed on Row Five, with authors S thru Z.

In the shadows under Steve's wrist sit two of the Carroll & Graf Spider doubles published in the '90s. Can't see which they are (there were at least eight of them), but in between is a Spider book we can identify.

And this is it. I always planned to get a copy of my own, but never got around to it. Guess it's about time. After a few blurry titles, we roll into the Don Pendleton department . . .

The books Steve is either hiding or calling attention to with his hand are most likely the four sleazy adventures of Stewart Mann, detective, penned by Pendleton in his pre-Executioner days. Steve spilled the beans on these recently on Ben Boulden's blog, and you can read the story HERE

Next up are a bunch of Executioners. This one is unmistakable, but the others are too tough for me. I yapped about this book recently HERE.

Pendleton's post-Exectioner days are represented by these two hardcovers, and that's likely a Copp paperback sandwiched between them. 

And bringing the Pendleton section to a close is one of the many books by Don's wife Linda. 

This next section starts with several Shell Scott adventures.

I can see these. Can you see more?

Then it's Pronzini time. I have these two on my shelves, too.

That red/orange hardback between Labyrinth and Bindlestiff looks mighty familiar. I might even have a copy, but it has me baffled. 

There are way too many books here I can't make out. Guess I'll have to make the pilgrimage to Tuscon.

 I didn't know what a Nick Carter book was doing this late in the alphabet until I figured out it was written by Bob Randisi. 

Which explains why, after a couple more titles I can't read, we come to these two. The books that follow are mostly a mystery, though I do see a couple of Harold Robbins, one of which is The Carpetbaggers

The last two I can be sure of are these, by a guy I'm not familiar with. But if Steve likes him he must be good. 

Down near the end of the line is a single Stony Man (Executioner spin-off) book. Who done it?

That's it. That's all I got. But let this be a lesson to you. If you go posting photos of your bookshelves you risk some nosy bozo like me poking around in them!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Over the past two days, we've seen that Steve has some mighty swell books, and they just keep on a'comin'. 

The first books visible on row Three are Donald Hamilton's adventures of Matt Helm. I can't read the titles--the best I can get are impressions. But I'm going out on a limb and say I have the impression two of them might be these . . .

Hm. I've never read a Matt Helm book. That blurb at the top of The Wrecking Crew makes me think I should. 

Next up are Hammett's best book (left) and the one other folks think is his best (right). Read these more times than I can count. 

After a copy of The Big Knockover and what I suspect is a later book called Nightmare Town, we find the hands-down most (left) and least (right) important Hammett story collections.

And two more less than vital but still interesting collections of artifacts. Among the next nine books is something by Ernie Hemingway (a story collection?) and a couple of Jack Higgins thrillers, including The Eagle Has Landed

Then we find four REH titles, only two of which I can be sure of. The fourth has the same coloring as Berkley's Son of the White Wolf and Marchers of Valhalla, but the words don't seem to fit.

L. Ron Hubbard is not a name I expected to find here. Surprise, surprise. Following that are several unidentifiable E. Howard Hunt books and a Longmire adventure. It may not be As the Crow Flies, but the coloring is right. 

Jumping to the next shelf, there's this one by Wm. Johnstone. Four books later there's another by the same dude, so it's a fair bet those in between are too. Then there are a few Frank Kanes. It almost looks like there's a Henry Kane in there too, but if so he's out of order. 

We then encounter a Stephen King or two and a Dean Koontz or two before entering Joe Lansdale territory. 

It looks like there are ten Lansdale titles, but I can only be sure of four titles, and pretty sure of three editions. I have no clue as to the addition of The Magic Wagon, third from the top in the stack.

Since this is the last pic in today's post, I'm glad it has a great cover. 

Tomorrow: Row Four, and a fond farewell to the Mertz Library. See you then.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Yesterday we took a closer look at the top row of this small portion of the Stephen Mertz Unpublic Library of Tucson, AZ. Today we're moving on to row Two. What wonders will we find? Read on . . .

Way over there on the left, above Steve's shoulder, is a glimpse of the Mertz section. Unlike the others, these are not filed alphabetically by author, but I suppose they're entitled to a place of honor.  

The first thing we see are these two Crossroad Press hardcovers. Devil Creek is a reissue, and The Castro Directive is an original.

After another hardcover with the title obscured is the first of the Blaze! books, an indecipherable trade paperback and at least a couple more Blazes! (More about Blaze! HERE, HERE, and HERE.) And that's it.  I wish I wish we had a look at the whole Mertz section, because Steve has written at least a couple of bushels of books, but for purposes of this post, what we see is what we get. 

Returning to the regular rotation, there are some books I should be able to identify, but can't. I've seen that fat white paperback that starts with a P many times in used bookstores, but can't put a name on it. Same for the salmon colored pb to the right of the Cussler book. Another Cussler? I just can't be sure. 

These are the first two I can be sure of. I knew Steve was a Spillane reader, but didn't know about Cussler. (I enjoyed all the books Cussler wrote alone, but haven't delved into the collaborations.)

And now we come to the Dalys, with Snarl, the first Race Williams novel, and The Man in the Shadows, a third-person adventure of Daly's first-person pre-Race private investigator, Two-Gun Terry Mack. 

The Hidden Hand is the second Race novel, and Vee Brown was Daly's Dime Detective guy, until Race himself jumped from Black Mask to Dime in 1935. More Vee Brown talk HERE

Next to Vee Brown there's a black hardcover I don't recognize (what the heck is that, Steve?) followed by the extra-fun Mr. Strang (discussed HERE) and the first collection of unrelated Race novelettes, from 1989.

And right next to that is another of my favorite books, the first novel in the Doan & Carstairs series (described HERE.)

Here's another mystery. On the left here are four Gold Medals, who apparently fall between Davis and Dent. But I can't think of any Gold Medal authors in that range who wrote that many books. Can you?

The Dent books start with a couple of Doc Savages (can't read the titles), then stand tall with Genius Jones, the first book publication of an Argosy serial from 1937. (More about that HERE.) Next to that is a taller book with a white spine. All I can read on that one is DENT, and I want to know more. What is it, Steve?

Several more Savages follow, but the only ones I can name are these. 

After that, Dent's first two Crime Club novels. Dead at the Take-Off is discussed HERE.

Lady Afraid was Dent's third and final Crime Club entry (more HERE), and Flight Into Fear was Will Murray's fifth Doc Savage novel, published way back in 1993. There are a couple of Doc Omnibuses nearby. I had hopes of naming those, but there were more than one in each of those colors.

Cry at Dusk (reviewed HERE) was Dent's sleaziest book, and Lady in Peril (HERE) a first edition Ace Double. 

Finishing out the Dents is this Hard Case novel, unpublished until 2009. After Honey, there are a few Sherlock Holmes books (grist, no doubt, for Zombies Over London), followed by more titles I wish I could decipher.

The next things I can see, though, are two editions of this western I now want to read. Other Fieldhouse paperbacks follow, which I may be hunting too. 

The end of this row brings still another mystery. I see what appear to be three or four Gunsmith books by "J.R. Roberts." If these had been penned by Gunsmith creator Robert Randisi, they'd be down on row four with the other Randisis. So who, with an F or G initial, wrote these babies?

Tomorrow: We move to row Three with more questions than answers. Come back and see which are which.  

Monday, March 20, 2017


Steve Mertz posted this pic of his bookshelves on Facebook the other day (taken, I suspect by Paul Bishop, who paid him a recent visit). So, in the tradition of my 2015 post "Secret's of Bill Crider's Bookshelf (that's HERE), I did a little literary detective work to give you a closer look at some of Steve's reading matter.

Unlike Bill's photo, in which almost every title was legible, this one required more guesswork and familiarity with Steve's tastes. It also helped that he shelved the books alphabetically by author, making the guesswork easier. Today, we'll be taking a closer look at that first row, marching off to the right of Steve's forehead.

Of the first twenty books, the only author I can decipher is Edward S. Aarons, and I can't make out titles. But the Cleve F. Adams section is easy to spot. The orange hardcover is the second Rex McBride adventure, And Sudden Death, and the tall trade pb with the white & blue spine is the first, the new reprint of Sabotage from Altus Press.

If you haven't read these books, you should. More on Sabotage HERE, and And Sudden Death HERE.

Can't make out the black hardcover next to Sabotage, but next in line are these first two of three novels featuring Bill Rye, who was Adams' take on political operative Ned Beaumont of The Glass Key. I'm jealous of Steve's Dig Me a Grave dust jacket. (More about Dig Me HERE.)

Next up is Murder All Over, a retitling of the Rex McBride novel Up Jumped the Devil, recognizable because of it's distinctive brown spine.

And next to Murder All Over is a spineless paperback I'm pretty dang sure is a Handi-book, meaning it's one of the two above. My money is on Up Jumped the Devil, discussed HERE

After several undecipherable titles by William Ard, and at least a couple by Philip Atlee, we come to hefty collection of paperbacks by Michael Avallone. That's no surprise, as Steve is a long time admirer of his.

I could read only two of those Avallone titles, and they're shown above.

But I also see an Ace Double tucked in there. Could this be it?

I don't recognize the first ten books in this section, but the eleventh is Dealing Out Death, an early novel featuring W.T. Ballard's Hollywood troubleshooter Bill Lennox.

Steve's copy has to be one of the editions above (probably the one on the left). More about that book HERE

Next to Dealing Out Death is Ballard's last Bill Lennox novel, published for some inane reason as by "John Shepherd. This one appeared in 1960, twenty-seven years after Lennox's debut in Black Mask. Then, after a couple more mystery books, we come to the Robert Leslie Bellem section...

No bookshelf should be without a Dan Turner collection, and Steve has at least two. Roscoes in the Night was published by Adventure House in 2003, and the John Wooley book below (more HERE), came out in 1983. You'll find the title story from the Black Dog's Spicy Western collection Lust of the Lawless HERE.

The most intriguing book on this top row is shelved between Roscoes and another mystery book, followed by Lust of the Lawless. It's sort of salmon colored, and appears to be an old hardcover in dust jacket. Could it be the Bellem mystery Blue Murder? Or maybe the Adams-Bellem collaboration The Vice Czar Murders? I've never seen a dj for either. Again, I'm jealous. I'm also mighty curious about the tall white book between the skinny little Lust and the Hollywood Detective book. What the heck is it?

You'll find scans of Handi and Harlequin Sleeping Nude covers (including Art Scott's Bellem autograph and a link to James Reasoner's erudite review HERE.)

Next to Sleeping Nude are these two sleaze books. I didn't think much of them, and Steve probably didn't either, but since they're by Bellem, I guess we had to have them. You'll find scans of the back covers HERE

Next up: What wonders await on row Two? What books will you recognize that I can't? Come back tomorrow and see.