Monday, July 27, 2009

Kicking myself . . .

I have several more obscure eBay searches set up to send me e-mail alerts. I was asleep at a ridiculously early hour last night and therefore missed the alert ("beverly gray" burt) for the following auction:

I'm dying here, folks. When I saw the original thumbnail in the e-mail, with all those distinctive gray covers, I tried to tell myself there might just be multiples, maybe if I was lucky, they'd have In the Orient, which I've yet to find in a Burt edition. But no.

Someone got every Beverly Gray title ever printed in Burt editions. Including At the World's Fair. For FIFTY DOLLARS. *dies again*

What kills me about it is that the seller knows enough to say that it's a hard to find title, but not enough to have any idea of the value. When you add in World Cruise and In the Orient, both hard to find in Burt printings . . .

To end this on a more personally positive note, I acquired my Burt edition of World Cruise in dust jacket when a seller sold multiple Burt copies in djs of the series, including World's Fair. Sometimes when a seller is selling off a collection, it helps bring more attention to the individual listings than it might when selling only one. If the collector is known to other collectors, this can be especially true.
In this case, though, I believe so much attention was focused on World's Fair that buyers overlooked the other hard to find titles. I also acquired at least one other title--I think Senior? --very reasonably. If I'm not mistaken I paid between $20-25 for World Cruise and about $15 for Senior. While there's not uncommonly a couple of copies of a Burt Senior in dj up for sale on Abe or sometimes Amazon, at that time, this was the only Burt copy of World Cruise available online, with or without dj. I've had my Burt alert set up on eBay for over a year now, without another copy turning up, so I'm pretty pleased. In fact, I was contacted by another buyer almost immediately after the auction closed, wanting to purchase it.

While I generally like to cheer on a fellow collector instead of a reseller, I'm hoping these titles show up again. I don't have much hope for World's Fair, but I would definitely have some interest in In the Orient, although I would prefer a title in dust jacket. When you think about it, there almost has to be fewer Burt copies of this title than World's Fair, as they printed it for a much shorter time before Grosset and Dunlap acquired the rights to the series.
Worry not, I should have a decent review post up for Pemberton Ginther's The Secret Stair eventually. Unfortunately, my primary computer has finally drawn his last breath, so I've been getting by on a decade old clamshell iBook, which is painful in the extreme to use.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vicki Barr #8, Peril Over the Airport

Awhile back, a discussion on the comparative prices of foreign editions emerged in the comments on one of Jennifer's posts. To make a long story short, I wound up with a ridiculously cheap (admittedly imperfect) British edition of Peril Over the Airport. I know I've kvetched all over the place about how I don't enjoy Vicki as a pilot. Well, I stand corrected. Peril Over the Airport is a perfectly satisfying series read.

Vicki has become obsessed with learning to fly, and everyone else, conveniently enough, is obsessed with helping her realize this. The asexually oblivious Dean's old war buddy Bill Avery has conveniently opened a small airfield near Fairview. Vicki talks her boss into getting reassigned to Chicago, sweet talks her parents, and all systems are go for flying lessons.

While Vicki's lessons go well, someone's clearly trying to sabotage Bill's airfield. Prime suspects include the mogul who needs Bill's land for his own airport and the mechanic weirdo that Vicki suspects of being Darnell, another war buddy of Dean's who went psycho killer/AWOL. I'm trying to be less spoiler-y (and long-winded), but the ending isn't much of a surprise. Obviously, the culprit(s) are caught, Vicki gets her pilot's license, and Bill's airfield is saved.

Why did I enjoy this book? There was action all the way through, and it held my attention enough to finish in one setting, without having to force myself along. I like Vicki's mother and sister in this story, although I miss the other stewardesses. And all the male characters irk me: see below.
  • This book was published in 1953. Dean and Bill are old enough to have old war buddies. So, thirtyish? For some reason, I never pictured Dean being that old. Of course, it's not as though most series books have any relationship to real time.
  • Bill: rest of the series as Dean: the previous books in the series. Vicki's two great boring/platonic loves. I prefer Vicki, but I have to admit that Cherry has more romance.
  • It really, REALLY bothers me that Vicki has to grovel and get permission from her father to take the lessons. She gets it, natch, but still. She's an adult.
  • Bill reminds me of a bad romance alpha male. "I am going to treat you like CRAP, and believe murderers instead of you, but it is okay because I have charisma! Plus, I'm totally hot!"
  • In that vein, all the guys unrepentantly belittle the work of stewardesses.
  • Good continuity: in the earlier books, Vicki's little sister Ginny is proclaimed to be an ugly duckling, who will, just like Vicki, soon emerge as a beauty. In this book, Ginny starts to be described more flatteringly.
  • Shoe love: "low heeled play shoes. . . yellow cotton, sling back and open toes, with a flat bow atop."
  • It's odd to me that Vicki Barr would be published in Britain, considering the Shirley Flight series would be competing. I admit they're very different, though.
  • For the curious: the book has solid blue textured boards and is published by Sampson and Low (a la Nancy Drew). It lists to itself on the front and black flap and the back cover has a Dana Girls ad.
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