When I was writing The Serpent Pool, I did quite a lot of research into the world of second hand book-dealing (Marc Amos, Hannah Scarlett’s partner, owns a bookshop in the Lakes.) Three of the experts I spoke to at different times were Jamie Sturgeon, and, at some length, Mark Sutcliffe of Ilkley, and James M Pickard. All were very helpful.
James’ latest catalogue has just been issued. It’s a limited edition in itself – just 100 copies printed; who knows, maybe in due course copies that survive will be worth loadsamoney in themselves. Meanwhile, it’s full of goodies, though for the most part, you’d have to be very well off indeed to go on a buying spree.
In terms of rarity, though, this is top of the range stuff. One item which took my eye is ‘The Greenshore Folly’, described as ‘the hand-typed manuscript of an uncollected and hitherto unpublished Poirot story. It is, apparently, the basis for the novel Dead Man’s Folly, but (confusingly) unconnected with an entirely separate Miss Marple story, ‘Greenshaw’s Folly’. The re-use of titles illustrates how often writers cannibalise their previous ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with such thriftiness.
James describes the item as ‘one of the rarest Agatha Christie manuscripts to have appeared on the market in many years’. I can imagine that is entirely right. So are you tempted? The only snag is, it will set you back twenty thousand quid….