Friday, August 29, 2014

FFB: Bury Me Deep - Harold Q. Masur

From the Shameless Self-Promotion Department:

Revived and Reissued! Brand Spanking New! Eye-catching Design!

It's the latest reprint of a (somewhat) forgotten pulp classic from Raven's Head Press. Bury Me Deep (1947) by Harold Q Masur was the first of eleven fast paced, semi hard-boiled, detective novels featuring the hip and with it Manhattan lawyer Scott Jordan. Taking his cue from Raymond Chandler who he admits was his inspiration to write for the pulp magazines Masur pens a tale of avarice, manipulation, duplicity and murder. A new trade paperback edition was released a few weeks ago and is now available for purchase from amazon.com or by visiting Raven's Head Press. Our new cover design by artist Doug Klauba is a nod to the original 1st paperback edition (see below) published by Pocket Books back in 1948. Verna Ford, the blond in her underwear, has served as the inspiration for two previous paperback covers. Why not? Scantily clad women -- whether lounging and drinking from a brandy snifter or being threatened and menaced by dark men with guns -- have been the iconic imagery for pulp magazines and paperbacks since the 1920s.

It opens with Jordan discovering Verna in her lingerie helping herself to expensive brandy in the appropriate snifter. She's been waiting for someone in Jordan's apartment but it cant' possibly be him. He was away in Miami and cut his trip short to come home. No one was expecting him. Verna tries to put the moves on Jordan but he won't have any of it. Then she downs her brandy and immediately passes out. Jordan foolishly takes her to a cab, bribes the driver to babysit her until she comes to, and asks him to let her off at her home. But the driver soon discovers Verna is not dead drunk, just dead. The lawyer is immediately suspected of doing her in and trying to dispose of the body. So he decides to find out who she is, why she was in his apartment and who poisoned her brandy. The case becomes a lot more complicated when it turns out Verna was involved in a legal battle involving a will that leaves millions of dollars to the proper surviving relative of a husband and wife who died in a car crash. Lots of down and dirty action that turns pretty nasty. Villainy and double crossing galore! It's a corker, gang.

GIVEAWAY TIME! A full review of the book will appear tomorrow, but I wanted to take the time to help promote the Raven's Head Press release of this new editions. As usual I'm giving away three copies of Bury Me Deep. Don't all raise your hands at once. (First of all I can't see you. This is the internet, you know) Sorry, but this giveaway is confined to USA and Canada. If you'd like to be considered simply leave a comment below. Three names will be selected by a highly irrational process involving a blindfold and a dart board. OK, not really. Winners be selected at random, etc, etc. You know the drill. I'll announce the winners probably next Friday to allow for Labor Day revelers who may be drinking and BBQ-ing and whooping it up away from their computers to catch up on their blog reading.

If you like the good old pulp style action of fist fights in a barroom, slinky dames pawing the detective hero, no good skunks and slimy gangster types, sleazy dives and smoke filled saloons then the Scott Jordan books are right up your alley. I was genuinely surprised that I found Bury Me Deep one of the best of the Chandler imitators. Plus it's set in New York! How can you beat murder and deceit and treachery in late 1940s Manhattan? Harold Q. Masur was quite the interesting guy, too. Read this fascinating interview he gave Gary Lovisi back in 1992 when Masur was 83. Among many intriguing anecdotes he talks about how Bury Me Deep came to be written, his inspiration in Chandler, and how he walked into Simon and Schuster's offices with the manuscript in hand daring them to publish it. What chutzpah! He was also one very involved with the Mystery of Writers of America serving a stint as president in the 70s and as their legal counsel throughout his lifetime.


22 comments:

  1. Well i am totally getting this - thanks John!

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    1. Wish I could include the overseas readers, Sergio. As generous as I like to think I am I'm too poor these days to pay the high international shipping fees that will insure someone will get a book. Anyway...You will enjoy this one knowing your tastes. This will be a surefire winner for Raven's Head Press. It's the first pulp detective novel we've published. Third time's the charm!

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    2. Just ordered my copy from Amazon (boo, hiss, I know, but ...) and hopefully it will be here before the month is out (takes agaes usually for suff to get to the UK) - vey exciting as I've never read anythign by Masur.

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    3. I won't "Boo" you for ordering this book through amazon, Sergio. It's the only way you're going to be able to buy it! Michael is using CreateSpace to do the printing for the Raven's Head Press books and so we're at their mercy, so to speak. I know they're shipping is inconsistent but it saves us a lot of time to let them do it all.

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    4. Ah, that's OK then - I mis-read your post and thought I could also order direct from Raven's Head but when I couldn't figure it out went to Amazon - phew, that was close!

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  2. I like Chandler. But I'm leery about a tough guy hero named Scott. I can say no more. Sign me up.

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    1. Is that an ex-husband thing? Oops, do I go too far? :^) Your name's in the hat, my friend.

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  3. Big fan of writing from the paperback original era. Let me in...

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    1. You're in, Rick. May the odds be with you!

      This is an excellent debut novel. I'm planning on reading the whole series. Scott Jordan is easy to like. Plus, the plot was pretty darn good. I'm surprised Stark House hasn't jumped on these books. Not a single one in print and so well deserving of being reissued.

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  4. Just FYI, I posted a brief review of this book some time ago. Although I wasn't a huge fan of it, I'm very glad to see it brought back into print in such handsome form.
    http://onlydetect.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/harold-q-masur-bury-me-deep-1947/

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    1. A fair review, Mike, if a bit heavy on the flaws rather than the strengths. The most important thing to me is if a book does the job it sets out to do. Bury Me Deep succeeds. It's not literature. It's entertainment. You can call it derivative but Masur admits to that up front. He's a lot better than most of the Chandler wannabes who were published at the time. You have to admit the book is *never* boring. What better endorsement is there than that?

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    2. Well, just from reading your review and this comment has made me want to buy this one so thanks. Great cover, too.

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    3. I find that my tastes keep evolving.A few weeks ago, I posted a laudatory review of "Red Harvest." When I first read that book, a decade and a half ago, I had no patience for it. My sense of what I want out of a detective novel, in short, continues to broaden, and so it might be with the Masur book. Anyway, I look forward to seeing your review of it.

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  5. Congratulations on Raven's Head's publication!! The edition looks striking and interesting; I have a copy of the first paper from Pocket, and yours looks better. I remember reading this years ago but I don't remember how it ended up, just that you've struck a chord in my memory about putting the victim into a taxi. So I'll have to read this again -- one way or the other!

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  6. John, I don't recall ever hearing about Harold Q. Masur and his pulp fiction, so thanks for the review that has served as an introduction for me. And congratulations on the reprint from Raven's Head Press.

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  7. John, you can throw my name in the hat. This sounds really good. *fingers crossed*

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  8. John, it is so good that you are bringing back these forgotten good book. Anybody who can imitate Chandler well deserves to be in print.

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  9. Very interested in this book, John. Please throw my name in the hat. I am sure I have heard of this author before, but now I know more.

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  10. John: I would be honoured if my name happened to be chosen. Congratulations on bringing back another book tor current readers. You must feel great pride with each re-printed book.

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  11. It is a handsome new package...better in every way than the first paperback...

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  12. Congratulations, John! Must say, any novel that can be described as a "rapid biting tale" is a novel for me. Here's wishing Raven's Head great success with this one.

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