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

KILLER TAKE ALL by Philip Race (aka E.M. Parsons)

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They call him Johnny Berlin and he has an instinct for cards… for trouble…and for women.

KILLER TAKE ALL

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.

On his way from San Francisco, Johnny gets lost in the fog while driving the costal route to Portland, Oregon. Stopping to get directions from a stranger turns out to be deadly, when the man —a dangerous racketeer—turns up dead and Johnny is pegged as the killer. Now it’ll take all his smarts and toughness to save himself and the woman he loves.

TEXAS HELLER by E.M. Parsons

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Texas: 1869. When a man wearing Yankee blue returns home, he’s a walking target… even for his own brother.

When news of Fort Sumter reached Two Trees, Texas, Coy Quillen was one of the first to sign up. Not many people under­ stood his decision to join the Union forces, but Coy Quillen was a man who lived by his beliefs, everybody else be damned.

Now the long, bloody years of fight­ing were over and Quillen comes home, a useless saber-scarred hand at his side. But that’s not his biggest burden. He’s a hated man, resented for helping whip the South. Not even his own brother will speak to him. And while he was away, Quillen’s father died and their ranch was lost. There’s nothing left in Two Trees for Quillen. Another man might turn around and go… leaving the town for good. But not Quillen. He’s going to stand his ground….and raise some hell.

KILLER TAKE ALL & JOHNNY COME DEADLY by Philip Race (E.M. Parsons)

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They call him Johnny Berlin and he had an instinct for cards… for trouble…and for women.

KILLER TAKE ALL

Johnny had dealt cards 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.

On his way from San Francisco, Johnny gets lost in the fog while driving the costal route to Portland, Oregon. Stopping to get directions from a stranger turns out to be deadly, when that stranger—a dangerous racketeer—turns up dead… and Johnny is pegged as the killer. Now it’ll take all his smarts and toughness to save himself and the woman he loves.

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elmer Merle Parsons was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1926. In 1949, when he was 23 years old, he was convicted of burglary and grand theft for stealing a car from a Phoenix used car lot and leading police on a wild chase that ended in a crash. He served three years in Chino State Prison…but didn’t stay free for long. In 1955, he was arrested in Pasadena, CA for passing 22 stolen checks, which he told the court he needed to “tide him over” while awaiting money for a script he claimed he’d sold and because he couldn’t get a job due to his prison record. He was sentenced to five years in prison, which he served at San Quentin, where he became editor of the prison newspaper and sold his first novel, “Self Made Widow,” to Fawcett for $3500 advance under the pen-name “Philip Race.” He wrote wrote & published two more novels, “Killer Take All” and “Johnny Come Deadly,” under his pen name. After his release in 1960, he wrote one novel (“Dark of Summer”) and several westerns under his own name and also contributed scripts for many TV series, including Sea Hunt, Cheyenne, Ripcord, Bonanza, The Dakotas, The Virginian and Flipper.