Friday, October 25, 2013

Another bibliographic mystery: Brian McDermott

Now off to another mystery surrounding a book published in Finnish, supposedly translated from English, but seemingly not in English.

Brian McDermott's Tuntematon tilaa näytännön ("The Unknown Man Orders a Play" or some such, pretty awkward name, if you ask me) came out in a big publisher's paperback series called Crime Club in 1968. The original name is supposed to "The Battles". Now, there's not a book called "The Battles" written by Brian McDermott. Actually there's not a book called "The Battles" by any writer, at least prior to 1968. One Brian McDermott did publish a crime novel called Who Killed Robin Cock?, but that was in 1981. And that's his only crime novel, possibly only novel.

What gives here? There are some American paperbacks published in Finland that were never published in the US: two private eye series by Grover Brinkman and I. G. Edmonds, a crime novel by Bruce Cassiday, possibly four or five air war novels by Robert Sidney Bowen. I think Edmonds also has a war novel in Finnish that didn't come out in the US. It is entirely possible that Brian McDermott, whoever he was, didn't manage to sell this book to British (or US) publishers, but managed to land it in Finland. (The book wasn't published in Sweden. I didn't check Norway's or Denmark's national libraries' catalogues, but I'll do that at some point.)

So, who was this Brian McDermott? I haven't as yet read the book, but given the title it's possible or actually likely that he was the actor Brian McDermott who died in 2003, writing on his own experiences.

Can anyone help me with this? Who was McDermott's agent, if he had any? Did someone reading this blog know McDermott? Is someone reading this blog related to McDermott? (One thought comes to mind: could Who Killed Robin Cock? be the same novel that circulated through many publishers, landed only in Finland in 1968, but was finally published in 1981 in the UK?)

7 comments:

Todd Mason said...

I sicced some librarians and FMers on the case, Juri...

Juri Nummelin said...

Thanks, Todd! Some new light has been shed on the subject elsewhere, but I've been too busy/lazy to post on it.

Juri Nummelin said...

I believe that if this was indeed published in English, it has been a serial, but not a book.

Todd Mason said...

Less uncommon than you might guess.

Juri Nummelin said...

Todd, did you see my later post on the subject?

Helga Zwemmer said...

This book was published in the Netherlands in 1968.
He has written another book called "Red rum" which was published in 1967:
http://berenweb.nl/index.php?option=com_berenbase&view=book&id=1178&catid=21&Itemid=128.
On reverse of the book I have, at last!, found the author information:
Actor Brian McDermott is in the Netherlands and Belgium mainly known as Walter in the TV series Walter and Connie. Beginning in 1966 he also appeared in the TV thriller Melissa Francis Durbridge as Melissa's friend Don Page. McDermott had just started one, as he himself said, 'humorous novel about a married couple".

So we can safely say it was this Brian McDermott who wrote the books: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0567498/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Juri Nummelin said...

Thanks for your comment, Helga! So I believe the TV series Walter and Connie was used to promote the book that didn't come out in English at all - maybe they thought if the author would be familiar to the possible readers, they'd be more interested in it.