THE LEDRU BAKER JR. READER: Four Full Novels

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Three unforgettable novels by noir master Ledru Baker Jr. in one volume

AND BE MY LOVE
The blockbuster, million copy bestseller in 1951, a beloved Gold Medal classic, is finally back-in-print to enthral a new generation with it’s raw, powerful description of a passionate love affair that had no limits. She belonged to one man…but she wanted another. They tried all the pleasures and they knew all the pain.

THE CHEATERS
A crime lord strong-arms Jack Griffith, a struggling musician, into spying on his wife Mardi, who he suspects is cheating on him…but things go very wrong when Jack falls for her himself.

This book was adapted into the 1990 Canadian TV movie Frame Up Blues aka Le Danse du Scorpion.

BRUTE MADNESS
Mark Mitchell is a playboy atomic rocket scientist who marries the wrong woman…and is betrayed in the worst possible way. He is quickly arrested, convicted of treason, and sentenced to life in prison. But that’s only the beginning of his nightmare in this lightning-fast, insanely unpredictable, brutal Cold War noir thriller.

LET HIM GO HANG by Bud Clifton aka David Stacton

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A long-lost noir classic from an unknown master of the craft…a tragic, 1960s literary star hiding behind a pseudonym

The judge bangs his gavel. The murder trial is about to begin.  The defendant, Charles Adams is so scared, his knees are shaking..but If he knew how dire his situation really is, he’d be screaming. The defendant’s wife is wiggling with pleasure. She can’t want to see her husband hang. The dead girl’s parents are quaking with fury as they take their seats…they want Adams to die for what he did.  But things aren’t quite as they seem. Charles Adams is innocent. And doomed. Because the real killer is one of the jurors…and he’s certain what the verdict will be.

Bud Clifton was a pseudonym for David Derek Stacton (1923-1968), an acclaimed American poet and author, under various names, of literary fiction, historical novels, and soft-core gay porn. He died in Denmark in 1968.

“A stylistic virtuoso, matching on the typewriter the lightning flashes of such musical masters as Paganini on the violin,” The Chicago Tribune

“The most unjustly neglected American novelist of the post-war years.” The Guardian (London)

“John Banville comes to mind as an author who so easily switches gears from fustian to fetid. It is fascinating to watch Stacton working out in the noirs the kind of novelist he would become. From the beginning, Stacton is drawn to a certain kind of person, the kind who is the ‘victim of the propulsive force of his own character.'” Los Angeles Review of Books

THE MURDER SPECIALIST by Bud Clifton (aka David Stacton)

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“A stylistic virtuoso, matching on the typewriter the lightning flashes of such musical masters as Paganini on the violin,” The Chicago Tribune

Hal Williams is a specialist with one particular talent to sell: contract murders that appear to be accidents. He’s a professional who does his job with cool, calm, and calculated detachment…or so it seems. It’s all part of a long-term plan for ultimate revenge. But just when everything is coming together…he meets Unne, a mobster’s coldly sensual mistress, a kindred spirit with a dark, devastating secret of her own…and everything changes.

Bud Clifton was a pseudonym for David Derek Stacton (1923-1968), an acclaimed American poet and author, under various names, of literary fiction, historical novels, and soft-core gay porn. He was a two-time recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and also received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work ranged from lurid tales like D is for Delinquent to a non-fiction book about the fall of Constantinople. His books under his own name include The Bonapartes, The Judges of the Secret Order, A Signal Victory and People of the Book: A Novel of the Thirty Years War. He died in Denmark in 1968.

PRAISE FOR DAVID STACTON (aka BUD CLIFTON):

“John Banville comes to mind as an author who so easily switches gears from fustian to fetid….[his] peculiar blend of the oracular and the mischievously ironic makes him an invaluable cicerone in any setting, ancient or modern….it is fascinating to watch Stacton working out in the noirs the kind of novelist he would become. From the beginning, Stacton is drawn to a certain kind of person, the kind who is the ‘victim of the propulsive force of his own character.'” Los Angeles Review of Books

“The prose of David Stacton is like that of no other writer. It suggests a corridor in a dark Gothic tower, ill-lit by tapers, at one end of which a gong sounds incessantly. Stacton’s gong clashes are malevolent aphorisms, asides spoken to Nemesis, hard little explanations of motive.’ Time Magazaine

“The most unjustly neglected American novelist of the post-war years, David Stacton’s ambitious high style and melodrama have seen him banished. It’s time for a return to favour. Few writers have managed more fully than Stacton to bear out Gore Vidal’s maxim that writers shouldn’t ‘write what they know” but, rather, what they imagine or suspect.’… and yet, Stacton himself can be seen to hide in plain sight behind everything he wrote.” The Guardian (London)

“His prose reveals great cultural depth and breadth. He uses language lovingly. Almost every sentence contains a striking metaphor or simile. Aphorisms sparkle from paragraph to paragraph.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“David Stacton is a major writer who has the approval of critics but so far lacks the consent of readers at large. In short, it’s the story of literary virtue unrewarded…his novels are enjoyable as well as admirable.” Oakland Tribune

The Best Pulp Noir Fiction Volume Five: Four Hard-Boiled Novels

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Four complete novels of raw, hard-boiled, pulp noir greatness by four masters of the genre, back-in-print for the first time in sixty years.

The Long Night By Ovid Demaris * The Cheaters by Ledru Baker Jr. * Johnny Come Deadly by Philip Race * Die on Easy Street by James Howard

THE LONG NIGHT
Vince Slader is an ex-cop-turned-PI who is hired by a casino to hunt down a gambler with a $28,000 tab in return for a percentage of the debt. It seems like a straight-forward job until Slader winds up framed for murder. As if that isn’t bad enough, he becomes a target of hard-charging politicians and the West Coast mafia.

“Demaris saturates the prose with gunplay, fast cars and sexy women. The criminals are edgy, but the hero is a valid, uncompromising tough guy who serves as the perfect crime combatant.” The Paperback Warrior

THE CHEATERS
A crime lord strong-arms Jack Griffith, a struggling musician, into spying on his wife Mardi, who he suspects is cheating on him…but things go very wrong when Jack falls for her himself.

This book was adapted into the 1990 Canadian TV movie Frame Up Blues aka Le Danse du Scorpion

JOHNNY COME DEADLY
Johnny was a crap game hustler, but when he blew into town they pegged him wrong. The cops said, ‘Killer,’ and slugged him simple. ‘Lover,’ the rich gal said, and got him even worse mixed up. Next came the ex-striptease queen with the heart of gold or pewter, and the Happiness Boys from the Syndicate. All Johnny had going for him was a fast pair of legs, a faster set of wits, and just maybe, the one female around who could be counted on to win it or lose it for keeps. A fickle broad named Lady Luck.

DIE ON EASY STREET
The ocean tide washed the body up on the beach. It was a woman’s nude body, without a face or a left hand. And when Steve Ashe discovered the remains of the once-beautiful redhead, he vowed to find her killer and hound him to the gallows. But to do it, Ashe has to tangle with a crooked private eye, an insanely jealous photographer, and a kill-crazy police chief…

“Steve Ashe is a badass!” The Paperback Warrior

THE 23RD WEB by Richard Himmel

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“Slick…there is action, conspiracy, plenty of sex. Himmel knows how to keep everything at a boil. He’s a good storyteller in the Arthur Hailey style. There is so much action that the reader is swept along. It’s like a B-movie of international intrigue. This book will amuse and entertain you.” The New York Times

A cold-blooded Arab sheik and his army of psychopathic terrorists use blackmail, kidnapping and murder to force hundreds of rich Amercan Jews to stop giving money to Israel, part of a complex effort to economically cripple the Jewish nation. One man, Justice department attorney Peter Frankel, leads the fight against the insidious plot, drawing him into an inescapable web of twisted sex and brutal violence.

“Kinky, muscular and menacing,” Vogue Magazine

“The simplicity of Himmel’s plot is what makes his book fascinating. ..and it all seems very plausible. The characters are believable (with) large doses of sex sprinkled liberally throughout.” Berkeley Gazette

“Notable for its ingenuity…the conflict is entertaining as the terrorists and American supporters of Israel face each other in a battle of nerves and wills.”South Bend Tribute

“A surprising climax.” Tampa Tribune

“The pace of the action is steady and the wind-up is satisfying.” Publishers Weekly

FRISCO FLAT by Stuart James

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When his father is beaten-to-death, Korean War vet and ex-prize fighter Frankie Cargo returns to his home in the small, northern California waterfront town of Frisco Flat. Cargo has inherited his father’s fishing boat business and trouble from Sam Barlow, the vicious local cannery owner who rules the town with fear…and with the iron fist of the psychopathic and corrupt Sheriff. If that wasn’t bad enough, Barlow gets involved with the Sheriff’s lover, the voluptuous Tosca Sorrento, who wants more than any man can give. But Barlow won’t be pushed…and never backs down from a fight.

“Pretty darned good. Frisco Flat moves along well. The book is a little better written, a little more literary, than many hard-boiled novels.” James Reasoner, author of Texas Wind

“The pacing is brisk and the action sequences are exciting.” The Reading California Fiction Blog

STUART JAMES grew up in rural Pennsylvania and at 15 went to work as a sports reporter for the Delaware Valley Advance. Later. while attending Temple University, he was a copy boy for the Philadelphia Record, then served a stint in an intelligence unit in the Army. Newspaper work took him all across the country before he abandoned journalism, invested in a used Royal typewriter. and wrote adventure stories “by the pound”—meanwhile holding down such jobs as hunting guide, truck driver, bartender, rough carpenter, carnival barker, cannery worker, and ice cream salesman—as the rejections flooded in. At age 28, while working on a tuna boat out of Monterey, California, he sold his first story to a pulp magazine for $100. Several hundred stories later, when the short fiction markets started drying up, he became a staff writer, then executive, for a series of magazines. including Popular Mechanics and True. Finally, he quit magazines to become a a PR copywriter as well as ghostwriter and scriptwriter. “All the stuff any writer does,” he said. Many of his professions inform the milieus and character portraits in his novels. In 1992, the year of his last known published book, he was making his home between residences in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Cedar Key, Florida. At this writing (October, 2020), there is no further information known as to his whereabouts (he would be 98 if still alive) or passing. (Biography courtesy of David Spencer)

The Best Pulp Noir Fiction Volume Four: Four Hard-Boiled Novels

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Four complete novels of raw, hard-boiled, pulp noir greatness by four masters of the genre, back-in-print for the first time in sixty years.

I Like It Tough by James Howard * Killer Take All by Philip Race * Be My Victimby Robert Dietrich * And Be My Love by Ledru Baker Jr.

I LIKE IT TOUGH
It’s 1955 in Neon City, USA. The vice syndicate’s slimy tentacles stretched everywhere through the corrupt city and only reporter Steve Ashe knows the dark story behind the multi-million dollar traffic in dope and white slavery. And because he knows…he’s a walking dead man.

KILLER TAKE ALL
They call him Johnny Berlin and he has an instinct for cards… for trouble…and for women. He’d dealt at all the biggest tables in Reno and Vegas. He’d told the head of the gambling syn­dicate to go to hell–and repeated the message to his hired killers. He’d had women throwing themselves at him at every turn… and he loved it. That was Johnny Berlin. Who would have thought he’d find the dice loaded against him in a peanut-sized town off a back road in northern California? Who would have thought he’d fall for a nice girl? And who would have thought he’d risk his life for her? Nobody…least of all Johnny Berlin himself.

BE MY VICTIM
Coral City, Slade County, Florida in 1956. By day, the tourist robbery is genteel… practiced by scrubbed and bowing clerks, merchants, and restauranteurs who wait all year to gouge and swindle out-of-town customers. But it’s at night that the real money is made… at tourist cabins, at cockfights, and at plush, private clubs where the only winner is the house and nobody seems to care. Nobody except Pop Seegar, who owns everything that makse money and ruins lives in Slade County. But now Bruce Kendall, a stubborn, ex-Navy man & local building contractor, is unwilling to play Seegar’s lucrative, rigged game of graft and corruption… and that is unacceptable to the mob boss. When an attempt murder Kendall goes explosively wrong, and Kendall goes on a rampage of retribution, Seegar finds a woman to lure Kendall to his doom and restore the natural order of vice and corruption once and for all…

AND BE MY LOVE
The blockbuster, million copy bestseller of 1951, a beloved Gold Medal classic, is finally back-in-print to enthral a new generation with it’s raw, powerful description of a passionate love affair that had no limits. She belonged to one man…a violent gangster…but she wanted another, a womanizing writer. So she seduces the writer and tricks him into a quickie Las Vegas wedding that puts them both in mortal danger.

The Best Pulp Noir Fiction Volume Three: Four Hard-Boiled Novels

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Four complete novels of raw, hard-boiled, pulp noir greatness by four masters of the genre, back-in-print for the first time in sixty years.

The Scarlet Venus by Chalmers Green * I’ll Find You by Richard Himmel * The Lusting Drive by Ovid Demaris * The Judas Hour by Howard Hunt

THE SCARLET VENUS
A wickedly subversive, unpredictable and powerful hard-boiled masterpiece…lost for generations, now rediscovered. Soldier McQuade is a prizefighter in New York who goes back to his rural home when his widowed sister-in-law dies, leaving behind two kids. He’s accompanied by Tennessee Bell, his other sister-in-law, who is on the run from a violent lover. But that simple, seemingly conventional starting point doesn’t begin to do this story justice… and to say more would spoil the stunning plot twists that veer shockingly away from every cliche.

I’LL FIND YOU
Johnny Maguire is a struggling lawyer who falls into a passionate affair with the widow of one of his clients. She disappears… supposedly taking a suicide dive into the ocean. But Maquire doesn’t buy it and starts searching for her…a quest that pits him against the mob and spirals into a twisted story of sex and murder.

THE LUSTING DRIVE
Guy Hill is pure evil, a washed-up movie star who returns to his hometown, seduces & marries the owner of the furniture company that is the life blood of the entire community, and then he murders her. He takes over the business and becomes the local King, holding everyone in the thrall and terror of his lusting drive for sex and power. His only adversary is his one-armed brother, the local Sheriff, who is powerless to stop him…until the car belonging to Guy’s “missing” wife is pulled from the cold depths of a local resevoir. Now Guy’s grip on power begins to erode, exposing the dark passions, deep corruption, and the lusting drives of everyone in the town.

THE JUDAS HOUR
He had to destroy this evil woman. This woman he had once wanted with an animal passion. She brought him back from a living death, rescued him from degredation. But that had been no act of kindness and love. It had been, instead, part of a deliberate and fiendish plan. For now she felt that she owned him, that his life was hers. And she would use him as a piece of machinery, to be discarded on the junk heap the minute his usefulness was over. Yes, he’d been allowed to live… only so he could die.

The Best Pulp Noir Fiction Volume Two: Four Hard-Boiled Novels

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Four complete novels of raw, hard-boiled, pulp noir greatness by four masters of the genre, back-in-print for the first time in sixty years

One For The Road by Robert Dietrich * The Captive by Norman Daniels * Self-Made Widow by Philip Race * The Chinese Keyhole by Richard Himmel

ONE FOR THE ROAD
It’s 1954. The man’s name is Larry Roberts. His home is the highway, working the rich widow racket from Miami to L.A. Now he gets into bed with a lusty young socialite who is plotting her own deadly twist on double indemnity…and the sucker this time might just be him.

THE CAPTIVE
World War II veteran Jeff Castle is living a quiet life as a big game hunter in Africa…until he’s called to the bedside of his dying, estranged grandfather in New York, where he learns he’s the sole heir to the man’s business: sixty hotels throughout the state. Castle barely has a chance to absorb the news when he’s seduced by a woman… who is murdered shortly after he leaves her bed. Now, instead of tracking game, he’s hunting for the woman’s killer in the concrete jungle. But the hunter is also the hunted, being stalked by vicous prey — the NY mob, who want to take the empire that he’s inherited, which isn’t what it seems.

SELF-MADE WIDOW
Johnny Babcock was the name on the life insurance policy for $100,000. Johnny Babcock was the name on all the identification found on the crumpled, burnt body found at the body of a ravine. Johnny Babcock’s grieving widwow gratefully accepted the cashier’s check from the insurance company. And all the while, Johnny Babcock lived on Skid Row, doubled-crossed by the wife he loved…and facing murder charges if he ever revealed his true identify. Is there a way out for Johnny that doesn’t put him in the grave…or behind bars?

THE CHINESE KEYHOLE
Ex-spy-turned-lawyer Johnny Maguire hadn’t visited Chinatown in a long time, and now he wasn’t there for the tourist attactions. Not that the Chinese Keyhole didn’t have plenty to offer–if you liked that sort of thin. Behind its pseudo-Oriental facade, the strip-club provided unusual entertainment for its off-beat clientele…and the performers were weirder than those who paid to watch them. Somewhere amongst the lust, sadism, and brutality there was the key to a Communist spy ring. And Johnny had to find it…through a mess of murder, mayhem, lust, and sadism he smashed his way to the Chinese Keyhole, where hell was set to music.

THE CHEATERS by Ledru Baker Jr.

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She opened the door to love… and death walked in.

He looked at the woman, slim and beautiful, the woman he’d been hired to ruin. Then he saw her haunted eyes and fell in love. After that, it was the two of them together in a merry-go-round of hate and fear… and murder.

A crime lord strong-arms Jack Griffith, a struggling musician, into spying on his wife Mardi, who he suspects is cheating on him…but things go very wrong when Jack falls for her himself.

This book was adapted into the 1990 Canadian TV movie Frame Up Blues aka Le Danse du Scorpion