Item #6952 MURDER STALKS THE WAKELY FAMILY. August W. Derleth.


New York: Loring & Mussey, 1934. First Edition. Derleth's first book, and the first of ten novels he'd write featuring his recurring character, Judge Peck. "In this first novel of the Judge Peck series the Judge and his friend Dr. Jasper Considine work together to solve the mysterious slaying of Satterlee Wakely, which has roots in his dark, sinister past" (Wilson 328). In a July 27, 1933 letter to H.P. Lovecraft, Derleth confessed that he'd broken his previous speed record by writing Murder Stalks the Village (the novel's original title), "a complete mystery-detective novel, 70,000 words long, in seven days flat, not counting afternoons spent across the river on my beloved hills reading, and writing poetry" (Schultz & Joshi, Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth: 1932-1937, p.596). Derleth's publisher, Loring & Mussey, released the book at the beginning of 1934, with a very modest print run; by June 4th of that year, he'd reported to Lovecraft "L&M's latest report puts sales of MURDER STALKS at 1100. This is gratifying, being 200 over the average sale of a first mystery novel" (ibid, p.640). An important debut, apparently rare in dustjacket (this is the first we've seen), with none available in commerce (Jan.2024) or in the auction record. OCLC shows 20 holdings. Hubin, p.115; Barzun & Taylor 1077. Item #6952

First Printing. Octavo (19.5cm); orange cloth, with titles stamped in black on spine; dustjacket; [x],239,[7]pp. Spine ends gently nudged, hint of offsetting from jacket flaps onto endpapers, else a fresh, Near Fine copy. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $2.00), shelfworn and a bit dust-soiled, with several small nicks, tears, and attendant creases (one of them tape-mended on verso), and a 1" loss at upper spine panel, costing several letters; unrestored; just Very Good.

Price: $1,500.00

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