Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mike Shayne in New Orleans

I've been aware of Brett Halliday's Mike Shayne series for a long time, and have been collecting quite a few of the books, particularly those with McGinnis covers. Like so many collectors, it's hard for me to find the time to read everything I buy, and I haven't hit the Shaynes yet, with the exception of three tales from Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine penned by James Reasoner under the Halliday name in the early 1980s. These were The Black Lotus, Death from the Sky, and Doomsday Island, and feature a female descendant of Dr. Fu Manchu (the connection is strongly implied, not explicit, due to copyright reasons).
I discuss these stories in my essay "Who's Going to Take Over the World When I'm Gone? (A Look at the Genealogies of Wold Newton Family Super-Villains and Their Nemeses)" in my MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE, as well as my CROSSOVERS: A Secret Chronology of the World 1 & 2.

 In any event, I had always thought Shayne was strictly Miami-based, and had no recollection that he also worked in New Orleans (although I do see that my friend and colleague Brad Mengel mentioned Shayne's New Orleans sojourn in his essay "The Land Family," which incorporated Shayne into the wider Wold Newton Family).

So imagine my pleasure upon wandering into the French Quarter's Kitchen Witch Cookbooks last week  (my wife in search of authentic Cajun and Creole recipes which she can duplicate and alter to accommodate a gluten-free diet), and as we are about to pay for the cookbooks, I see an old Mike Shayne paperback prominently displayed near the register, a Dell double Dead Man's Diary and Dinner at Dupre's (1945 & 1946).

Why a Mike Shayne paperback in Kitchen Witch Cookbooks? It turns out these cases take place during a few years while Shayne was based in New Orleans. In fact, on the back cover is a nifty map of the French Quarter highlighting the key locations of the cases. 

Needless to say, I grabbed it, and had a ball reading it on vacation.

We had a great time in NOLA, and plan on return vacations. I can't think of any place that beats the French Quarter at night for atmosphere and exquisite food, and I don't mean just on Bourbon Street. In addition, my great-great-grandmother and great-great-great-grandfather were from New Orleans, and next trip I intend to track down the family mausoleum, if it still exists.

In related news, I wandered into Crescent City Books (also in the French Quarter) on my birthday, and wandered out with a copy of the Easton Press limited, leather-bound edition of Philip Jose Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go (second edition).

All in all, a great trip.

P.S. Consider these your "pics o' the day." Now that I'm back from vacation, I'll try to resume the daily pics soon.



Christopher Paul Carey said...

I love those old Dell paperbacks with the maps on the back cover. Earlier this year I picked up the one of Haggard's SHE, which, though abridged and rewritten (boo!), included a fairly accurate full-color map of the lost city of Kôr.

Glad to hear you enjoyed your vacation! I love the atmosphere there too.

Win Scott Eckert said...

*Love* those maps! :-)

George said...

I'll have to track down those James Reasoner stories. Love those mapbacks!

John Small said...

I was in Crescent City Books the one time we went to New Orleans. I remember the following year, when Katrina hit, that Joshua expressed concern about whether or not the bookstore survived the storm. I think that was the moment I knew he inherited the bookworm gene from me and his grandpa. Nice to hear they're still in business.

Stuart said...

I always love Dell mapbacks too -- and New Orleans.

BTW, we discovered a great Gluten-Free pasta company a few months ago at the farmers market in our area of Seattle" Manini's. Highly recommended by Andi (she is not gluten-intolerant) and her sister Pat (who is).

Brad Mengel said...

Sound's like you had a great trip Win. Did you catch up with Chuck while you were there?

I had forgotten that Mike Shayne had spent some time in New Orleans myself - I must be smarter than I thought.