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This morning, my wife and I went to a church 'Jumble Sale,' kind of an indoor yard sale, and then to a resale shop in Harrow. As you'd expect, whenever we go to ay of these places, I gravitate immediately to the books. There are certain books I always see at these things - books by James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Sidney Sheldon, for example, plus Harlequin Romances. Almost always though, there will be a book I want, that I didn't really expect to see. Today there were two. A book of short stories from the Vinyl Cafe - a collection from the story exchange part of the show, and a book by P.C. Doherty.
Like me, Doherty is a High School principal, almost certainly retired now. Unlike me, he's written dozens of books in a number of different series - all historical mysteries. My favourite series is the Hugh Corbrett series - wonderful medieval mysteries. They are the only books that, upon picking up, I read the last page before buying. Once, a number of years ago, I bought a Hugh Corbrett mystery, only to find out that he died at the end! Shot by a crossbow!
I was in a funk for weeks! I liked Hugh Corbrett a lot! And even though, if he were a real character, he would have been dead for eight hundred years or so by now, maybe more, I expected him to die a well deserved death in bed at eighty-something. Not being hit by an arrow from a crossbow! My guess was that Doherty was either tired of writing the Corbrett books and wanted to end them, or he wanted to receive a bunch of fan mail begging for Corbrett to return.
Anyway, a couple years later, a new book came out in the Hugh Corbrett series. He hadn't died, and had been nursed back to health so he could catch another ne-er do well. Because I usually pick up Corbrett mysteries at re-sale shops and yard sales and libraries, I don't always know if I've read them before. (I really don't mind. I enjoy reading them a second time.) I just don't want to read about Corbrett getting killed again.
I hadn't intended to tell you all that. I really wanted to tell you that, in addition to looking for a book I wasn't expecting to find, I've also started to look for my book when I go into one of those places. I look for my favourite writers, as always, but I also take a look in the 'G' section, and the humour section, for a copy of The Principal Chronicles.
I don't know yet if it will make me happy or sad to find it. I don't know yet if I'll buy it, or if, as I often do, suggest to a patron I don't know that this would be a good book to pick up. I do that for several books if I find them in a resale shop. "What sort of book are you looking for? Oh! Have you read this one yet? It's great!" I also don't know yet if I'll fess up and tell the person that I wrote it. Maybe I'll just look to see if it's signed and then ask the kid working at the till if I can sign it before putting it back on the shelf. "Gee Sir, I don't know. I mean, it's not your book anymore..."
In any case. I didn't find a copy of The Principal Chronicles. Maybe next time.