Another "Help me identify this book" thread


Read this book about 8 years ago - probably a fantasy/sf book. It was remarkably funny. Here are the very few pieces I remember about it…

Narrator was a male, lived/moved to a coastal city (one full of fog - San Fran, maybe?) with his wife. They opened a B&B/diner. Diner was intriguing by the fact that they didn’t have any matching dinnerware or silverware.

Came a strange, ominous guest. Only thing I really remember was that the guest’s breath smelled like cod. I think. I think it was because he drank fish oil or something like that.

One scene that sticks out (and was just LOL funny) was where the narrator, out of spite, nailed a nickel to the floor just to watch the strange guest struggle with it.

That’s all folks…if anyone can really help here I’d be amazed. I doubt this was even remotely good selling…although I did pick it up in a bargain bin in a bookstore in Switzerland.

Well, I see nobody else has taken a swing at this…I am sure that the book in question is The Last Coin by James P. Blaylock.

I can’t lay my hands on my copy, but the cover blurb was something along the lines of “almost 2000 years ago, a man sold a certain piece of information for 30 silver coins…he is no longer with us, but the coins are…”. Certainly all the elements you mention are there–the B&B, the mysterious stranger, and (I think) the coin nailed to the floor. Also the importance of the right breakfast cereal.

Like all of Blaylock’s books, it is wierd, quirky, hilarious, and, alas, not very popular. I can’t sum up what makes his work so charming, but I strongly recommend it, even if it was not the book you were looking for.

Possibly ‘The Last Coin’ by James Blaylock?


I’ll concur uselessly here, just because I have to say that I tend to relate greatly to Blaylock’s protagonists and none so more than in The Last Coin :slight_smile: . A highly recommended book - Though the style and setting are probably not for everyone.

  • Tamerlane

Anyone want to try this one? This book has to be at least 10 years old, because I think I remember it not being recent when I read it in the early 90’s. The book is a sci-fi/fantasy one, and the main character is an Executioner. I think the word “executioner” is in the title. It’s one of a series, and the series title has the word “sun” in it. I read a couple of the other books, but have no idea what they were called, either. Whenever I try to look it up, all I get is hits for Norman Mailer…

Didn’t Mack Dolan (SP) write a series of books with ‘Executioner’ in the title.


That would be Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun.

Look here (first return from Google):

Damn! “first result

Thanks! So the title word is “torturer” though he was an executioner.

Three actually. No clue as to who the author was or what the titles of the trilogy might be, but here’s what I do remember:

The Central Character (CC) was profiled in a copy of “Dragon Magazine” in the 1980s when they showed how to convert fictional characters to the “Traveller” RPG.

One of the books dealt with a lab on an asteroid. The CC was there to investigate something dealing with the lab (the asteroid was also a kind of resort or way station in space) he uncovers a bit of nastiness after buying a book (note this is important as the author makes it a point that books printed on paper are rare and that is what the CC has bought) and the scientist who’s running the lab flees (remember this quite well as it was the first time I’d encountered the phrase “Cut and run” which plays a prominent part in the chapter) with a body in a coffin, or someone frozen in suspended animation. Can’t remember. Also had a section of one of the books (may have been the opening paragraph) where it says something like, "To Christians it was the year X,XXX, to Muslims it was the year X,XXX, to (insert group, race species here) it was the year XX,XXX, but to everybody else and just plain deadreckoning it was the year X,XXX.

Only read two of the books and would have liked to have read all three, and now I’d just kind of like to know the title of ANY of them, or who the author might be. Thanks.

IIRC, in the first book he was employed as a torturer, but had to dispose of the victims. Later he worked as an itinerant executioner.

But it was a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away?)