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.