Between 1947 and 1981, attorney-turned-author Harold Q. Masur (1909-2005) wrote 11 installments of a successful mystery series starring attorney-turned-private-eye Scott Jordan. The books come highly recommended, so I’m beginning at the beginning with the first novel, “Bury Me Deep,” originally released in the March 1947 issue of “Mammoth Detective Magazine” and then re-edited into a Pocket Books paperback in the early 1950s. The novel remains available as a $3 ebook for modern readers who like to consume their vintage paperbacks digitally.
As depicted on the cover, the “Bury Me Deep” opens with narrator Scott Jordan coming home from a trip to find an unknown hot blonde in lingerie curled up on his couch drinking a brandy. After talking for a minute, Scott learns that her name is Verna, and she is very drunk. Scott dresses the girl, pours her into a cab, and sends her on her way without ever learning how she came to be there in the first place.
The next morning Scott is awakened by the police. The cops have the cabbie in tow who immediately identifies Scott as the man who put Verna into his taxi. It turns out she died a few minutes later - apparently poisoned. The police logically assume that Scott was somehow involved and bring him to the station for questioning. After convincing the police that he’s not a murderer, Scott collaborates with them to get to the bottom of the situation.
“Bury Me Deep” is an enjoyable enough mainstream mystery typical of the 1940s American output, and Masur was a decent writer who honed his skills in the pulps. The problem is that American crime fiction really hadn’t grown a set of balls by 1947 (with Dashiell Hammett’s 'Continental Op' being a rare exception). As such, Scott Jordan owes more to Perry Mason than Mike Hammer, whose debut, “I The Jury” was first published the same year. I’d be interested in reading later-era (say 1950s and 1960s) novels in the Scott Jordan series to see if the character evolves and the stories become edgier. Until then, the debut is a pleasant enough diversion but nothing more.
Addendum - The Scott Jordan Series:
1) Bury Me Deep (1947)
2) Suddenly a Corpse (1949)
3) You Can't Live Forever (1951)
4) So Rich, So Lovely, So Dead (1952)
5) The Big Money (1954)
6) Tall, Dark and Deadly (1956)
7) The Last Gamble (1958; aka The Last Breath)
8) Send Another Hearse (1960)
9) Make a Killing (1964)
10) The Legacy Lenders (1967)
11) The Mourning After (1981)
There are also over 25 short stories starring Scott Jordan that appeared in magazines including Manhunt, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Several of these are compiled in the collection “The Name Is Jordan” from 1962.
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Good review - it helps me appreciate the huge contribution Mickey Spillane made to this type of literature. I think Max Allen Collins said that the success of the Mike Hammer character meant that the hero could finally get laid.ReplyDelete