Yesterday's news today


CRYING MAKES YOUR NOSE RUN  -  one of the rarest JTS titles -  sold on eBay for £49.50

A copy of this rare JTS hardback, with dust jacket, sold on eBay on November the 2nd. Seller Phil Bowden reported that this copy had previously been owned by Auberon Waugh. The winning bidder paid £49.50 plus p&p (that's US $ 78.75 as I type).


There were ten bids, but only two actual bidders fighting it out for this little-known gem.

Your humble scribe decided not to bid, as I have a copy already, though sadly without DJ. I thought some other reader ought to have the pleasure of reading this fine novel.

Congratulations to winning bidder pgh1908. He was kind enough to send me a colour photocopy of the dust jacket! Now I can dress my book up in a second-best DJ.

The picture above is taken from the seller's eBay page. The one below is from his web site http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/philsbooks. Nice!

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LIVE NOW, PAY LATER DEPT. (Not exactly news, but...)

Callendar:  There's 200,000 consumers in this town, and they're all waiting for you... just you.       

Albert:  Yeah, to con 'em into buying a whole load of stuff they don't need and can't afford. 

A year or so on from the collapse of Northern Rock, and in the context of a worldwide banking crisis which continues to evolve even as I type , JTS reader Jerry Dowlen has been moved to write about the current "credit crunch" with reference to Jack and Live Now, Pay Later.

You can read his piece here

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May 2008



Very exciting news from JTS fan and Sexton Blake reader David Redd.  We know that Jack collaborated on a Sexton Blake story with Bill Howard Baker around 1954. This story got Baker the job as the Sexton Blake Library's new editor. I have previously listed Sexton Blake Library 347, Without Warning (credited to Baker) as being probably the published version of this joint venture. I have to admit that I have never actually read this novelette, just skimmed through its pages and been unimpressed!

David Redd, however, has been reading the SBL around this period very closely indeed, and he has this to say, in an e-mail of May 8th 2008:

"Re: JTS and Sexton Blake, I've been reading my way up to the Fourth Series changeover and reached no. 350 last night - at which point something clicked.  Sexton Blake Library No. 350, Baker's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (rather than WITHOUT WARNING) must be that first Story/Baker collaboration mentioned in "Sexton Blake Saved my Turkey."
Baker's WITHOUT WARNING is pure Yank eye-for-dames mean-streets thriller, an atypical Blake for 1955 and not very good. 
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH opens with an outdoor episode lightly told, its emphasis on well-observed landscape and character much more in keeping with Blake tales by (say) Rex Hardinge or John Drummond than with Baker's cruder private-eye approach.  Then suddenly on page 12 a clutch of mean-streets cliches arrive - turned-up collar, pulled-down trilby, cigarette ground under heel etc - surely the work of Another Hand.  ("Turkey" actually states that Story would do the first chapter, Baker the next.) Thereafter the prose quality fluctuates.  The chapter about railway guard Alf Prosser discovering the body deserves mention as virtually a complete interpolated short story.  Sorry Steve Holland, but I think this has to be the one.
Incidentally, while THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is credited wholly to Baker, in Story's first Blake novel MURDER - WITH LOVE! the Story atmosphere gives way to a lengthy Baker-prose action ending.  A quid pro quo?
"Turkey" mentions that their model was a "Rex Stout" Blake with a gypsy element - and there's a slight gypsy connection for some characters in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH.  Of course Story was hopeless with names when writing off the cuff: in that article I would guess for Rex Stout read Rex Hardinge, for Agatha Christie read Dorothy L Sayers, for Leslie Charteris read John Creasey, and for Edgar Wallace read Bryan Edgar Wallace.  But when it comes to the details of his writing with Baker, I'm sure Story was spot-on.
So, over to you, Guy.  What's your verdict?"

Having dug out a copy of SBL no.350 (which I also hadn't read before now) my verdict is that David is absolutely right! The opening chapter, in addition to what David says, is set in the fens of East Anglia. Prime JTS territory, of course! Reading this, within a few paragraphs I was convinced.

I salute David's insight and his perspicacity. This is a major contribution to JTS scholarship!

I will change the Sexton Blake pages of this site to reflect this new information.

By the way, if I remember correctly, Agatha Christie, Leslie Charteris, and Edgar Wallace (also Margery Allingham) all had stories published in Union Jack or Detective Weekly, the other homes of Sexton Blake, but they were not Sexton Blake stories. (Nevertheless, their names have gone into legend as Sexton Blake authors... shoddy legendry!)

John Creasey, as Mark Hodder and Steve Holland have kindly reminded me,  did write a few Blakes. I thought he used a pseudonym, but Mark and Steve corrected me on that point. Here's Mark's update:

John Creasey actually wrote five SBLs all of which were published under his own name. They are hard to find and always sell for well over £100 when they occasionally appear on Ebay. They are:

 2nd series · Issue 562 · Feb. 1937

2nd series · Issue 666 · Apr. 1939

2nd series · Issue 737 · Date unknown

3rd series · Issue 17 · Feb. 1942
3rd series · Issue 39 · Jan. 1943
Best wishes

(Dorothy Sayers wrote an uncompleted / never published Sexton Blake story. It may have been her first ever detective story; she was trying to learn the form.  This story was also the first Lord Peter Wimsey story. Read about it here)

Sexton Blake pages at this site

Guy Lawley, London, England.   May 10th 2008


August 2006

Thanks to Michael Moorcock for the news that the sporadically awarded Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize has been given this year.

As Jack's literary executor, Mr Moorcock has the honour of organising the Prize, and he recently described the process:

"The rules vary. They are fairly arbitrary. Sometimes it's a fair selection made from a number of writers. Sometimes it's to a writer who could do with the dosh (but is funny). Sometimes it depends on the size of the bribe offered to the committee. Which, sometimes, is just me. This year it will be a bit of all of the above... "

"When the prize was first awarded it was scrupulously fair. But, as in the course of all such prizes, it is now totally corrupt."

"It is generally awarded for a work of fiction or body of work which, in the
opinion of the committee, best celebrates the spirit of Jack Trevor Story. The conditions of the prize are that the money shall be spent in a week to a fortnight and the author have nothing to show for it at the end of that time. This is to recall Mr Story's famous reply to the bankruptcy judge who enquired where a substantial sum of money paid to him for film rights had gone -- "You know how it is, judge. Two hundred or two thousand, it always lasts a week to a fortnight.'"

Below is Mr Aylett's press release about his win.

Steve Aylett has won the Prix Jack Trevor Story (or Jack Trevor Story
Memorial Award).

The Jack Trevor Story Memorial Award is given occasionally for a work
of fiction or body of work which best celebrates the humorous spirit
of Jack Trevor Story (Live Now Pay Later, Morag's Flying Fortress, The
Wind in the Snotty Gobble Tree, The Trouble With Harry).

As well as the traditional cup, a cash prize is awarded. The
conditions of the prize are that the money shall be spent in a week to
a fortnight and the author have nothing to show for it at the end of
that time. Aylett, author of LINT, SLAUGHTERMATIC and the newly
released FAIN THE SORCERER, says "Other than humour and imagination, I think the Prize is index-linked to authors who, no matter how many books they have published and in print, manage to have no money or exist in massive debt. Amazon's 'Buy Used' facility means more authors
than ever meet this criteria. I just put money on a table and watch as
it becomes gauzy and then disappears. I'll enjoy watching the Prize

The jury consisted of Mr John Coulthart(UK), M. Jean-Luc Fromental
(France), Mr Michael Moorcock (UK), Mr Martin Stone (France) and Mr
Jeff VanderMeer (USA).




Fain the Sorcerer:


Copyright ©  Jerry Dowlen 2008. Not for reproduction without the author's permission.

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