Mystery fans know the agony of waiting: waiting for your favorite author’s next series installment to come out (or, if you’re thrifty, waiting for it to come out in paperback or ebook); waiting for the author to finally reveal whodunit; waiting for that hard-to-find favorite to come back into print. Some waits will go on forever, though, as illustrated by literary sleuth Frank Sennett’s investigation into why Charles Willeford’s fabled final entry in the Hoke Moseley series was never published. And while you’re waiting for Booklist‘s Mystery Month to finally start on Friday, May 1, this will help tide you over. It was first published in 2007 but it definitely still holds up.
You won’t find Charles Willeford’s lost Hoke Moseley novel, Grimhaven, through the corner bookshop, Amazon, Alibris, or even eBay. But you might be able to read it at your local library—so long as you live in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pick a weekday between 9 and 5 (some special-collections hours are by appointment, so call ahead). Park on the third floor of the public garage adjoining the Broward County Library, walk across the connecting bridge, and proceed past the information desk to the elevator. Take it to the sixth floor.
Exit toward the glass doors on the right, where you’ll enter the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book: The Dianne and Michael Bienes Special Collections and Rare Book Library. Hang another quick right, and take a seat at one of the reading room’s round wooden tables. Ask the librarian to retrieve Box 1 from the Willeford collection. Other boxes contain noir paperbacks he published before Hoke Moseley triggered a career resurgence, including 1953’s High Priest of California and 1962’s Cockfighter. As Donald E. Westlake put it in his introduction to a reissue of 1988’s The Way We Die Now, “Charles Willeford wrote very good books for a very long time without anybody noticing.”