Will you read my book? Last Puffs took me years to write, will you take a look? It's based on a novel by a man named Hammett, (The Dain Curse), and I need a break, and I want to be a pulp fiction writer.
Pulp fiction writer.
Of course, dear Reader, writers hope their books speak for themselves. But given the chance here, I’ll tell you a little bit that might help your enjoyment of the Last Puffs.
Last Puffs is a story about war, love, betrayal, revenge, and murder, starring my series P.I., Frank Swiver. Frank is a pacifist—unusual in a tough trade like private investigating, in which you’re bound to come up against some violent characters. But that’s OK—a non-violent protagonist gives me a chance to explore themes like courage in conflicts and confrontations.
The core idea, the seed from which the whole book grew, came from a feature I heard once on National Public Radio about an old-fashioned cigar factory, like you might find in Havana, Cuba, or Tampa, Florida. In these factories, there would be a lector, an employee who would read aloud to the workers as they rolled cigars by hand. I knew then I wanted to write a scene set in such a quiet factory, where a beautiful dark-haired, dark-eyed young woman rolls tobacco along her bare, tawny thigh.
Around the same time, I had written an unsold short story, “The Girls from Nanking.” I’d based “Nanking” on Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op story-model. When the Op is called in on a case, each “person of interest” tells the Op a story—their version of what happened. The Op investigates and builds his own version of reality—the “true” solution of what happened. Here, Frank Swiver investigates a case for Joan Spring, a wealthy Eurasian woman, (who just might be a spy for Mao’s fledgling government in Peking).
It also happened that around that time I was reading The Dain Curse, by Dashiell Hammett. In the Dain Curse, I saw a structure for a novel that would enable me to combine “Nanking,” and the cigar factory treatment into a coherent narrative. And perhaps I could even work in a prequel of sorts, a story about how Frank, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, became a pacifist.
What could a Spanish Civil War story have to do with a Red Chinese spy in San Francisco in 1948-’49, and a Cuban cigar factory in California? Well, Raymond Chandler once wrote, “The most effective way to conceal a simple mystery is behind another mystery. Make the reader solve the wrong problem.”
So that is what I did.
If you like Last Puffs, please leave a review.
I need a break, and I want to be a pulp fiction writer.
Pulp fiction writer.
About the Author
Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year that the Indians won the World Series. He majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay, India. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.
Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released in 2017, and his newest, Last Puffs, just came out in January 2018.
Harley’s other passions are his wife Anastasia, their two children, reading, running, Italian cars, California wine and peace.
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About the Book:
Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, courageous Republican guerilla, in the Spanish civil war. But the local fascists murder her and her father.
Eleven years later in San Francisco in 1949, Frank, traumatized by the violence in Spain, has becomeSpain but owes his life to Frank, has pledged Frank eternal loyalty. He’s a loyal communist party member and successful criminal attorney.
Frank takes on a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. Joan seduces Frank to ensure his loyalty. But Frank busts up a prostitution/white slavery ring at the Lotus House a brothel in Chinatown, where Joan was keeping refugees from Nanking prisoners.
Then Max sees a woman working in a Fresno cigar factory, who is a dead ringer for Amanda, and brings in Frank, who learns it is Amanda. She has tracked the fascists who killed her father and left her for dead from her village in Spain to California. Amanda wants Frank to help her take revenge. And by the way, she says the ten-year-old boy with her is Frank’s son.
Joan Spring turns out to be a Red Chinese secret agent, and she’s drawn a line through Max’s name with a pencil. Can Frank save Max again? Can he help Amanda avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from her target’s daughter, the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega? Join Frank Swiver in the swift-moving story, Last Puffs.
February 10, 2018
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Frank Swiver is a detective. Murder investigations are his specialty. He likes wine, loose women and fast cars. Not necessarily in that order. Swiver inhabits an earlier world that is archaic and, without doubt, politically incorrect by today’s standards. Harley Mazuk recreates in Swiver a character from another era whose story is fun and entertaining. Mazuk has an impressive knowledge of wines and cars which permeate his narrative. As to his knowledge of women, I am not competent to judge. I do know that the geography and time period portrayed is well researched. There are many twists and turns to the plot as well as an injection of espionage that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of old fashion detective novels will enjoy this book. I know, I did.
-- Amazon Reviewer