Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - Masao Masuto mysteries


If you're familiar with Howard Fast's bestsellers, and historical novels, you might not be familiar with the mysteries he wrote under the name of E.V. Cunningham. During World War II, Fast worked with the United States Office of War Information, writing for Voice of America. But he had joined the Communist Party USA in 1944, and was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He refused to cooperate, and was imprisoned for three months in 1950 for contempt of Congress.

Because he was unable to write under his own name, he used different pseudonyms, including that of E.V. Cunningham. And, my favorite books written under that name featured a Nisei police detective, Sergeant Masao Masuto. In 1967, a book called Samantha introduced Masuto. The title was later changed to The Case of the Angry Actress. Masuto was a Zen Buddhist, like Cunningham, and the books included aspects of his meditation that were not common in mysteries. Masuto was a detective, family man, a karate expert, and a rose lover. The series began in 1967 with The Case of the Angry Actress, and ended in 1984 with The Case of the Murdered Mackenzie.

They are not easy to find, but the Masao Masuto mysteries were always fascinating.

11 comments:

Scrap girl said...

Wow -Howard Fast's story is interesting enough on it's own. Will look out for his name and pseudo names

Lesa said...

Yes, doesn't he have an interesting background? And, he worked on writing Spartacus while he was in incarcerated.

Kay said...

I'm familiar with Howard Fast and feel like I must have read some of his books in the past. Not familiar with this aspect of his writing though. Sounds very interesting. Truly a "forgotten" book. You do this exercise so well!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Fast is certainly an interesting character.

George said...

Howard Fast wrote seven "E. V. Cunningham" books. And THE CASE OF THE ANGRY ACTRESS was originally titled SAMANTHA.

Lesa said...

Hi Kay,

It's getting harder to come up with titles, though. Thanks1

Lesa said...

He is very interesting himself, isn't he, Patti?

Lesa said...

Thank you, George. Did you read all of them? I read as many as my library carried at the time.

Amy said...

I might need to skip these posts if I can't find the books! I immediately wanted to read this after reading this post. ;)

Lesa said...

Amy, You should at least be able to get them through Interlibrary Loan at your local public library.

Margaret said...

Just read The Case of the Russian Diplomat and loved it. Any producers out there - it would make a FABULOUS movie. ABE Books has lots of E.V. Cunningham books for sale for incredibly reasonable prices. I am so glad I found this forgotten author, whose own life own life would make a great movie.