Friday, November 11, 2011

Bitter Sweet

As a lifelong book collector there are times when you have bittersweet moments where you have a mixture of emotions about a particular book (ie: the thrill of having at last found that one elusive title, co-mingled with the disappointment that the chase for that book has at long last ended). My first brush with this strange sensation was when I was barely a teen.

Backstory: Starting in the late 1970's, having inherited a nearly complete series of books from my older brother called: 'Alfred Hitchcock & The Three Investigators,' I found there was one title that was missing - #13 of course - and it became my mission in life to find this book. With the re-release of the old books with new covers by artist Robert Adragna at about this time, not to mention the thrill of new titles being added to the series, this gave me an excellent opportunity to at long last track down this frustratingly scarce tome. I scoured book shelves, went to countless book stores, and looked high and low for 'The Three Investigators in: The Secret of the Crooked Cat.'

Well I remember the dizzying rush of finally finding it at a now defunct Walden Books at the Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge, Iowa. There it was! I was holding it in my hands! I savored the moment! But then...something happened. My good cheer deflated. I realized the hunt was really over - I would no longer be on constant watch wherever I went for this long sought after title. I briefly, wildly, considered putting it back on the shelf and pretending I never saw it. But no - I could never do that. As a book lover, I realized this was something I would simply have to accept (although I must add that it took a good long time to actually READ the book!)

Later in life I would suffer through this sensation again and again - putting together a collection of first edition James Bond titles (sans the uber-expensive Ian Fleming originals - I would have to settle for reprints for those), filling my shelves with first editions of Stephen King's works, discovering the brilliant set of Brains Benton books (a short-lived series that was so good it deserves its own blog post some day), and on and on and on...

[As a side note: as a Three Investigators purist, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the original illustrator of the series: Harry Kane. However, in the particular instance of the cover seen above, I always thought illustrator Robert Adragna knocked it out of the park with his cover art for 'Crooked Cat.' Superior to Kane's work in almost every respect, Adragna gives us a gorgeous, dynamic painting awash in the orange hues of sunset that accurately conveys the excitement of the carnivalesque story found within.]

To learn more about this great series of books, I urge you to visit the website of the universally acknowledged expert in the field: Seth Smolinske at his excellent Three Investigators website:


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