December 3, 2019
The Hal Masur Cocktail Talking continues! Or Harold Q. Masur if you prefer (my guess is he wouldn’t have cared a whit). But either way – hard talking, hard drinking, hard lawyering, hardly ever skipping a chance to flirt lawyer Scott Jordan (Mr. Masur’s regular protagonist) is at it again here on the Spiked Punch, this time with a quote from the deadly-named Bury Me Deep. We had a swell Dubonnet and brandy-fueled quote in our Bury Me Deep, Part I Cocktail Talk many courtrooms ago, but I just re-read the book, along with other Jordan escapades, and had to put a second quote up here. And it’s right down below, and is one that reminded me of all the wonderful distillers I’ve known.
“Quite a coincidence,” I said. “I have a present for you.”
She pressed my arm lightly. “You’re a psychic. I love presents. Let’s have a drink on it.”
She poured some bourbon into a pair of thin jiggers and we touched glasses. It was fine bourbon. The distiller hadn’t become impatient. It was smooth as a hummingbird’s wing. She turned to me with a shine in her eyes.
“I’m terribly excited. What is it?”
—Bury Me Deep, Harold Q. Masur
November 26, 2019
Okay, I have had a far-reaching trio of Cocktail Talks featuring Hal Masur’s lawyering-drinking-scrapping-cuddling 50’s lawyer Scott Jordan, as the first of the three quotes from the book was years ago. The second was just last week, and I’d suggest reading both to get your bearings in the case. This quote is a shorty, too, but does contain some words of wisdom for any burgeoning young business folks:
It was the kind of practice that needed plenty of front and Edward St. John Avery had it. A corner office, immense and square, sumptuous but dignified, with a sedate unit against the wall that he could magically transform into a glittering bar. Important clients are often weaned on spirituous liquids.
— Harold Q. Masur, So Rich, So Lovely, and So Dead
November 19, 2019
My Scott-Jordan-ing re-reading continues (see the Tall, Dark and Deadly post below for more on this lawyer-ing hero from the 1950s pockets-and-pulps) in nearly as fast a manner as Jordan gets in scraps, woos the ladies, sips the drinks, slings the punches and the smart remarks, and solves the murders. In this one, he’s about to provide some lawyer-ing help to a rather wealthy young lady/heiress, one with an artistic bent and a penchant for headlines and bad marriages, when she turns up murdered. Oops! The tag here is “How the other half dies” dontcha know. It’s a swell read (so much so that I’ve had a So Rich, So Lovely, and So Dead Cocktail Talk already), moves quicks, turns and twists, and stop for drinks at the right spots, and, perhaps the only time I’ve seen this in an American book from the 50s, likes grappa. You can see why these books are worth re-reading.
We were in the mood for Italian food and I knew just the right place on Thompson Street in the Village. It was unpretentious and seldom crowded, but the cooking was superlative and the house wine fair. Between courses we read the paper.
“Anything special we’re looking for?” Susan wanted to know.
“Just keep your eyes peeled for news about any of the principals in the case.”
We kept at it after espresso and a shot of grappa.
— Harold Q. Masur, So Rich, So Lovely, and So Dead
November 12, 2019
You know those days when you wake up and think, “you know, I really want to get into an adventure in NYC with a 1950s lawyer who likes his drinks, knows the best bars, also knows the law quite well, is a bit pugnacious while also flirty, and seems to be surrounded by murders,” those kinds of days? You know them? I had one recently, and so of course set myself up with a big dose of books by Hal Masur (aka Harold Q Masur), starring Scott Jordan, the pocket-book-y-est lawyer in the land! I’ve had a fair amount of Hal M. Cocktail Talks, including one from Tall, Dark and Deadly, a sort-of mid-career Jordan rollicker, with a divorce, double talk, drinks, and the tagline “Divorce is messy. Murder is messier.” Indeed! And the below quote, perhaps the only book with the Saratoga cocktail – though a version different then some I’ve seen. Sounds intriguing? Check it out:
String instruments only in the orchestra, no brass, Hazel created a mild stir from the male contingent as we followed the major dee to a corner table. He hovered solicitously, pad ready in his hand.
“Saratoga cocktail,” Hazel told him.
I looked at her curiously. “What’s that?”
“Brandy, bitters, maraschino, and pineapple.”
—Tall, Dark and Deadly, Hal Masur
October 22, 2019
Okay, let me admit something right up front: this quote from Anthony Trollope’s perhaps lesser-known The Three Clerks has been featured on this blog long, long ago. But I’ve been daydreaming about Spring (not so surprising and we role into deep fall and then into winter), and when I do that, I start to daydream about Mint Juleps, which all reminds me of this quote, which I am now bringing to you, just in case you’re thinking of Mint Juleps, too.
One man had on an almost new brown frock coat with a black velvet collar, and white trousers. Two had blue swallow-tailed coats with brass buttons; and a fourth, a dashing young lawyer’s clerk from Clement’s Inn, was absolutely stirring a mixture, which he called a Mint Julep, with a yellow kid glove dangling out of his hand.
—The Three Clerks, Anthony Trollope
September 10, 2019
I know, I know, I’ve had a lot of Maigret Cocktail Talks, but when I put up a good boozy quote in The Silent Witness Cocktail Talk recently, I realized I had to have one from Maigret and the Informer, too. See, if you missed that recent Cocktail Talking, I picked up both of these in one of those books-that-contain-two-books, which used to be a thing, and which I think is fun. Often, it was two books by the same author, but sometimes, you see two different authors, sharing the same genre. Here, it worked wonderfully, with the dry, stoic (but funny, in his way) French Inspector Maigret back-to-back with an American PI, Jack Fenner, also a little dry and stoic (and funny in his way). Both crime-solvers like a drink, too. This George Simenon book is an good one (most are!), with a restaurateur killed, young gangsters, a trip to the south of France, an informer on the run, a quirky cop, a cheating wife – all you could want, really! Plus, it all starts with a dinner at the Maigret house (they have Doctor Pardon and his wife over for dinner once a month if you were wondering), one I would have liked to have been at.
The women would take advantage of the occasion to put on a great spread and to exchange recipes, while the men would gossip idly, drinking Alsatian gin or raspberry brandy.
The dinner had been particularly successful. Madame Maigret had made a guinea-hen pie and the superintendent had brought out of his cellar one of the last bottles of an old Chateauneuf de Pape he had once bought a case of, marked down, when he was in Rue Drouot.
The wine was exceptionally good, and the two men hadn’t left a drop. How many liqueur glasses of brandy had they had afterwards? At any rate, suddenly awakened at two o’clock in the morning, Maigret did not feel his best.
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Informer
September 3, 2019
I’ve had a couple Cocktail Talks from George Harmon Coxe on the ol’ Spiked Punch, but not an inordinate amount. Which is a bit odd, as I sorta like his probably main star, photographer/drinker/mystery solver Kent Murdock. Maybe I just need to track down some more books? Recently, I did score a good one, The Silent Witness, in a two-novels-in-one hardback-book book, if that makes sense (the others was a great Simenon, Maigret and the Informer, and why don’t we do these “duo” books anymore? Modern authors too snooty to share?). Interestingly, it doesn’t star Mr. Murdock, but instead PI Jack Fenner, though Murdock shows briefly, as they both share the same fictional universe! I love that! It’s a crossover, in a way, and I think there were more, and Fenner shows up in small roles in the Murdocks I’ve read. We talk about crossovers now in movies as if they never happened before, but here we are. Oh, the book’s a good read, too, with a more slow burn development than many (the murder doesn’t happen for say 90 pages), and a neatly draw-out denouement between PI and villain, with lots of clues along the way. A good one – especially when paired with a book staring our old pal Inspector Maigret, and when featuring this quote.
But I can buy a drink while you two get acquainted . . . what will it be? He added when the waiter approached.
Nancy showed no hesitation. “A very dry Martini with a twist, straight up.” “I think – maybe a Cinzano and soda, with a bit of orange peel,” Kathy said, and Fenner asked for a Scotch and water.
— George Harmon Coxe, The Silent Witness
August 20, 2019
It’s been many a moon (and many a year, really) since I first mentioned the book Suddenly a Corpse, published originally way back in 1949, with my copy from 1950. It features dashing, drinking, dame-loving, crime-solving lawyer Scott Jordan (Masur wrote a series of books with Mr. Jordan), doing all of the above, all starting when a large man shows up at his door – and then dies instantly. It’s a good rollicking read, and if you can find a copy in your local pulp booksellers, then pick it up. I recently re-read it, and realized that while I’d had a Cocktail Talk from it (be sure to read Suddenly a Corpse Part I, as it has one of my favorite lines), that really, it deserved two. Cause I really like the below quote about school, or a school at least.
I hesitated and said, “Give me a little time to think it over. Maybe we can do something for you.”
Her mouth twisted contemptuously. “Listen, mister, the finishing school I graduated from taught me more than how to sling a fancy highball. I don’t trust you. When a lawyer asks for time he’s thinking up ways to trick somebody.
–Harold Q. Masur, Suddenly a Corpse