What follows fails. It was intended as a visual feast of first edition covers for every book written by the mysterious Kenneth Orvis.
Close but no cigar.
Hickory House, the author's scarce Harlequin debut is here, as is Over and Under the Table, his much less common swan song. What's missing is Walk Alone, Orvis's second book. Described by Orvis as a novel, it features in every one of his bibliographies, yet WorldCat does not recognize; Library and Archives Canada has no copy, nor does the Library of Congress. No used copies are listed by online booksellers. Search engines bring nothing. I've yet to find a single review or advert.
Like its author, the book is a elusive... or is it simply a phantom?
Either way, these are the others, complete with snippets of poorly written cover copy:
Toronto: Harlequin, 1956
Cover illustration by Norm Eastman
Hickory House – the result of a lifetime's hopes and ambitions. After lean years of insignificant books with their small bets and mean losers, hurried movings and furtive payoffs, now Al Rossi was a Big Time operator with a whole city answering to him.
|The Damned and the Destroyed|
London: Dobson, 1962
When Maxwell Dent returned from the Korean War after helping to smash an enemy ring supplying narcotics to U.N. forces, he thought he had turned his back forever on this nefarious trade with all its unpleasant associations. Yet here he was in Huntley Ashton's elegant Westmount home being asked to undertake a similar task in Montreal.
|Night Without Darkness|
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1965
Jacket design by Peter Edwards
Anton Fox, a Communist militant, has abducted a Western scientist, Beldon, and plans to use his new discovery, known as "paralysis mist", to get control of the Communist bloc – and take the Cold War off the ice.
London: Dobson, 1970
Jacket design by Geoffrey Harrold
A beautiful girl with a vision starts a revivalist mission in a decrepit hall in Greenwich Village – her congregation a handful of down and outs and the prostitutes from the brothel opposite.
|Into a Dark Mirror|
London: Dobson, 1971
Jacket design by Colin Andrews
Mark and Toni become inextricably involved in a crime hunt in France when they are there to investigate the extraordinary disappearance of their fathers after a war reunion.
London: Dobson, 1974
Here is an audaciously original novel of human conflicts and suspense. In a story of nonstop tension it details the agony of the wrongly-accused and the guilty, and the public attitude toward them.
|The Doomsday List|
London: Dobson, 1974
Several CIA agents have been 'eliminated' in various particularly brutal ghoulish ways. These murders have taken place at regular intervals in different European countries, and Adam Beck from another top-secret agency, is detailed to investigate.
|Over and Under the Table:|
The Anatomy of an Alcoholic
Montreal: Optimum, 1985
Cover design by Emmanuel Blanc
I feel very excited. Over and Under the Table will be advantageous to family members of alcoholics, school children, ministers of religion and persons who work on a day to day basis with alcoholic members of our society.Major R. MackenzieDirector, Public Relations, The Salvation Army, Montreal
My thanks to St Marys Public Library, which managed to get me a copy of Over and Under the Table as an inter-library loan from McMaster University. Thanks to McMaster, too!