The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1950)

This is a book that didn’t make a whole lot of sense before the reveal, and really didn’t make much more after it. There’s a gang of baby traffickers who buy illegitimate children and sell them to infertile couples. That’s not the end of the scam, though: they then “coincidentally” get the couple to meet a salesgirl at this one specific nightclub who has a sob story about her baby being stolen, but far worse than that, she has an infinitesimal amount of Japanese blood in her. So the couples are blackmailed to prevent their baby’s 1/128th Japanese heritage being known and ruining their lives forever.

There are a few murders, disappearances, maybe a kidnapping, one of the murdered guys comes back to life, and it’s all just a glorious mess.

No inscriptions.

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Echo of Drums (Louis Beauregard Pendleton, 1938)

So Pendleton really, really hates black people. I suppose I could do a more traditional synopsis: a family of planters in Georgia go through degradation in the post-war period, but it all comes back to Pendleton really, really, really hating black people. Also, blood libel. He quite freely mixes antisemitism and racism. Anyone who isn’t blond haired and blue eyed is evil, essentially.

Inscriptions: on the flyleaf: “To the Bradleys with sincere thanks for giving me insights into the width and breadth of the marriage license as set forth by an ill-informed negro lady. Sincerely, Alva Balden (or Baldin, perhaps), Xmas 1939”

K. (Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1914)

Dr. Edwardes, a brilliant surgeon who lost a patient through negligence, abandons his practice and starts as new life as K. Le Moyne. He boards with the Pages. Sydney Page is a nurse and is in enamored with Dr. Max, a surgeon at the hospital. Max rather likes Sydney as well and would like to marry her, but he’s a ladies man and settling down to one woman is really not in the cards. Joe had a childhood crush on Sydney that he’s never gotten over and he despises Max. When he sees him taking a girl to one of the private rooms at a seedy roadhouse, he shoots him. It seems hopeless for Max until K. outs himself and operates — saving his life. Sydney realizes it was only glamour that drew her to Max and that she really loves K.

Inscription: “3/28/20” on the very upper-right corner of the flyleaf.