I picked up a couple of older books this week. I've talked about Sam Merwin Jr. quite a bit on this blog, since he was sort of a mentor to me and published the first stories under my own name when he was the editor at MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE. He gave me my first steady writing work when he asked me to ghost the Shayne novellas under the Brett Halliday name, and ghosting and working under house-names has turned out to be the hallmark of my career. Now, this may or may not be a good thing. It's entirely possible I might have done better to concentrate on work under my name . . . but I haven't had a job other than writing for more than thirty years now and I've managed to publish around fifty novels under my name, so I'll take it.
But I digress. CHAUVINISTO is a science fiction novel set in a 22nd Century ruled by women. It was published by Major Books in 1977, during one of the stretches when Merwin was also the editor of MSMM. It may well be his final novel. Major was a small paperback house in California, an imprint of a company that primarily published porn novels. It wasn't the absolute bottom of the barrel during that era – that would have been Manor Books, the publishers of my first novel – but it was close. Despite that, Major managed to publish some very interesting books: a Western novel supposedly written by actor Rory Calhoun, the first Western novel by Jory Sherman, and first novels by Loren Estleman and Robert E. Vardeman. I have no idea if CHAUVINISTO was a trunk novel of Merwin's or if he wrote the book specifically for Major, which I can see happening, especially if the editor there was one of Merwin's friends. I've enjoyed the other fiction by Merwin that I've read. When I get around to this one I'll let you know how it is.
The other old book I bought is by a familiar author but is an unfamiliar title. THE LIGHTS OF SKARO is by David Dodge, who wrote TO CATCH A THIEF, PLUNDER OF THE SUN, THE LAST MATCH, and a number of other medium-boiled mystery/adventure novels. This one was published in 1954 and is set in Eastern Europe. Again, I've liked what I've read by Dodge, so it seemed worth gambling a dollar, which is what it cost me. (The Merwin book was $2.00.)
Below are links to this week's e-books. THE FURIES is a series of World War II adventures by John Steiner, PROTECTORS is the new benefit anthology in which I have a story, "The Lonely Widow" is Pete Brandvold's new Rogue Lawman short story (reviewed yesterday), and SAVAGE SLAUGHTER is a Western novel by Gary Dobbs writing as Jack Martin (review coming later this week, I hope). Looks like lots of good reading here.