London: Michael Joseph, 1961. Single volume, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: , 231, . Original blue cloth lettered in gilt; original unclipped color pictorial dust jacket. Light toning to spine panel; smudging and short closed tear to rear panel; neat ownership signature to front free endpaper.
First edition of Mary Kelly’s acclaimed novel, winner of the 1961 Gold Dagger Award, issued by the Crime Writers’ Association of the United Kingdom for an outstanding work of crime fiction. When a body is found in a vat of liquid clay at Shentall’s, an English pottery of sterling reputation, the detective investigating the leak of the firm’s proprietary designs finds himself at the center of a much more serious case. The Spoilt Kill was among the first British crime novels to mark a shift toward the psychological, establishing Kelly as a master of the genre: “It wasn’t the whine or cringe of self-pity, just a dull resentful disgust for circumstances and his inability to get clear of them, disgust for himself, that was too weak to possess the dignity of utter humility; a wriggle rather than a writhe.” The novel also offers an unusually detailed inside look at the business side of the decorative arts, from production processes to industrial espionage. A near-fine example of this tightly crafted murder mystery, uncommon in the first edition.