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    S. S. Van Dine. The Powwow Murder Case. A Philo Vance Story. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937. First edition, the only known copy of any printed portion of this unfinished novel. Octavo. viii, 1-4 pages. In the publisher's unusual binding of full black cloth, boards, stamped in red (the spine is so thin, that there is no stamping on the spine), with the usual format of text on the front board, but the rear board is stamped in two vertical lines in blind, with the intended layout for the spine stamped in red between the blind stamping. In the publisher's mock-up dust jacket, which had the intended layout of the front and rear covers as well as the spine (there isn't any text or artwork for the jacket flaps, which are blank). Endleaves are slightly thumbsoiled. The front pastedown has sticker residue from the bookplate of bibliographer Adrian Goldstone (his bookplate is still laid-in). The mock-up jacket has some edgewear, and the flaps are wrinkled and have glue or tape residue. A fine example of this unique item.

    More Information: Although S. S. Van Dine (1888-1939) had had a successful career as a critic and mystery writer, creating the popular sleuth Philo Vance, by 1937, his fortunes had changed. The popularity of sophisticated, witty detectives had waned, and hard-bitten gumshoes became the dominant mystery heroes. The film adaptations of Philo Vance stories had suffered a similar fate. Van Dine had begun writing The Powwow Murder Case, but abandoned it after only a few pages. The portion of the book that was mocked-up by the publisher must have been part of their usual procedure when a book is on its way to them from the author, but the rest of The Powwow Murder Case just never materialized.

    From the photocopy of the promotional blub from the rear jacket flap of the first American edition Murder in Blue by Clifford Witting (Scribner's, 1937): "The Powwow Murder Case. A Philo Vance Detective Story by S. S. Van Dine, author of "The Kidnap Murder Case," etc. The strange and arresting background of this latest Van Dine novel is hexerei, or witchcraft, and involves one of the most fantastic superstitions in America today. The series of crimes which Philo Vance is called upon to solve is the most sinister and unusual in the whole repertory of the famous Philo Vance stories, but the solution, though startling, is wholly rational and logical.

    In this tale one finds hexen, powwow doctors and black magic. The macabre events take place, as usual, in the city of New York, on the steep rocky cliffs near the point where the Harlem River turns westward toward the Hudson; and the first of the unaccountable and apparently meaningless crimes centers about the stabbed body of a prominent New Yorker.

    Along with Philo Vance-that debonair protagonist of Mr. Van Dine's criminological researches- District-Attorney Markham and Sergeant Ernest Heath of the Homicide Bureau play leading parts in this typical Van Dine story which carries the reader along on a swift and exciting current to a breath-taking dénoument."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2020
    15th-16th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 483

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