Coincidentally, the topic of Ace Atkins and Robert B. Parker also popped up in the last few days in exchanges with Kevin Cook, noted pulp and book collector.
“At this point in time Parker is still an industry,” Kevin observed, “with other authors writing his characters. I was never sold on Ace Atkins with his own stuff, and have never sampled an Atkins Spenser novel.”
While I didn’t try to sell Kevin on the Ace Spensers, I did suggest he might want — if only for collectors purposes — to track down the ARC of Devil’s Garden, the Fatty Arbuckle/Hammett novel. In that advance edition Ace provided a brief opening essay — “Behind the Story” — about how he came to write the book, featuring mentions of me and the Hammett Tour and so on. Doesn’t appear in the trade hardcover.
“Yeah,” Kevin replied, “I can see how the ARC of Ace Atkins’ Devil’s Garden would be a must-have collector’s item for you; never saw one myself, but it’s nice to know that Atkins has good taste (Hammett) — even if he is not that great an author himself.
“Regarding Parker, though, he no longer toured or did signings in the later years. Otto kept asking him to come down from Boston and do a talk/signing at The Mysterious Bookshop, but Parker explained that every time he did a signing in Boston or New York it would sell only an extra 75 books or so — not worth it to him.
“Parker had his regular readership that religiously bought each new book and that was enough for him.”