|Prairie Archives Bookstore, Springfield, IL|
Ann and I were in Springfield, IL, last week to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. It must be one of the great museums of the world, by the way – a wonderful marriage of education and entertainment.
Ambling our way back to the car, we saw and bookstore and (believe it or not) walked in. Prairie Archives is a gem, everything you want it to be right down to the old-book smell. It even had a bookcase of a few dozen vintage Sherlock Holmes/ Arthur Conan Doyle books nicely grouped together.
I came away with a few of them:
- Murder Most Irregular by H. Paul Jeffers is a book I’ve known about for many years, since a reviewer compared my No Police Like Holmes to it. It’s a 1983 mystery novel in which members of the Baker Street Irregulars are murdered from New York to London to a modern Baskerville Hall. Part of the fun is that several of the characters are based on real Sherlockians. (Amusingly, some readers assumed thought that was also true of No Police, but it wasn’t!) I’ve never owned or read the novel until now.
- The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr, still valuable after all these years. This is a first U.S. edition, with a beautifully illustrated dust jacket. I already had several copies of the biography, including the same edition – but without the jacket. And the price was more than reasonable, one-fourth what I paid another dealer about a generation ago. All the prices at Prairie Archives were reader-friendly, at least for the books I bought.
- The Sherlock Holmes Companion by Michael and Mollie Hardwick, which is just what it sounds like. This is the hardback edition, just like the one I borrowed from the public library when I was a kid. Holding it reminds me of those days. The copy I already had was a later paperback.
- The Complete Brigadier Gerard by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Gerard, a Napoleonic era French soldier, was Conan Doyle’s third great creation after Holmes and Professor Challenger. This book collects both volumes of those humorous and enjoyable tales. Only after I got home did I realize that I own another book, with a different title, that does the same.
Hmm. It turns out that three out of the four books I bought, I already had. But no regrets! Sometimes it’s good to have more than one copy, even if you have a library and not a collection.