He was white. She was beautiful – and bad! Elmer Gantry had nothing on the Right Reverend Deuteronomy Springer, resident of the Anderson Hotel in Harlem, minister of the Church of God’s Flock, late of Jax, Florida. Or was he really William Johnson, the man who’d checked into the hotel with a golden queen from some forgotten race in time named Merita? Merita was the wonderful color of real coffee, expensive, exotic coffee diluted with pure, thick, yellow cream. She was a goddess all right, a high priestess of love, sacred and profane. But this was how Sam Springer, the novelist from Miami, would have described her. He was the one who’d invented Mr. William Johnson, hadn’t he? But Merita was no fantasy. She was for real.
First thus. Re-issue of Honey Gal (Beacon, 1958), with Willeford’s original, rejected title restored. Not an oldie but definitely a goodie. Found in the collectors’ section amongst a stack of ’60s Signet James Bond reprints, all priced at $5 each, at Half-Price Books in OKC.
Title: The Black Mass Of Brother Springer
Author: Charles Willeford
Imprint & Number: Black Lizard
Cover price: 4.95
Publication date: 1989
Cover artist: Jim Kirwan
My intention was to unload a recyclable shopping bag full of library discards and dust jacket-less later editions of pure crap to free up some shelf space. I ended up spending the pittance I was given for that garbage on this and a few other “classics”: a later edition of Willeford’s Woman Chaser, a late ’60s Dell copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens Of Titan, Jim Thompson’s Fireworks, and a couple of anthologies.
This copy is pretty much flawless. Now to find a reading copy. It used to be easy… new editions like this were reading copies…
Gary Lovisi’s Antique Trader Collectible Paperback Price Guide has this edition valued between $10 and $120, depending on condition.