Monday, March 12, 2018


Here's today's stop on my virtual book tour. I thought I'd post this one because it's, well, different. A Blue Million Books: FEATURED AUTHOR: HARLEY MAZUK: ABOUT THE BOOK 
 During the Spanish Civil War Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro . . .
Here's an interview I did at The Writer's Life . . .
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Harley: I heard a story, probably a feature on National Public Radio, about the old cigar factories of Havana and Tampa. Each factory employed a lector—a person who read to the workers as they hand-rolled cigars. Imagine, a factory so quiet that you could read aloud to the employees. I pictured a beautiful woman with dark eyes and dark hair, rolling cigars on a tawny, bare thigh. I knew I wanted to write that scene and put it in my book. Read more . . .

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Girl: Guest Post: The Story behind Last Puffs

Here's a guest post I did for The Girl Who Loved Books blog:

Book Girl: Guest Post: The Story behind Last Puffs: The Story behind Last Puffs (450 words) by Harley Mazuk Last Puffs is a pulp fiction tale of war, love, betrayal, revenge,...

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Deal with New Pulp

After dithering about the contract for an excessive amount of time, I accepted today New Pulp Press’s offer to publish my second Frank Swiver novel, tentatively titled, Last Puffs. Chuck Newman at New Pulp was very patient with me, and yesterday put my mind enough at ease to sign the contract. It helped that he seemed genuinely enthused about publishing Last Puffs, and that makes an author feel good.

Last Puffs is not a sequel to White with Fish, Red withMurder, in that it doesn’t pursue the story line of Vera Peregrino and Frank. Vera doesn’t make an appearance in Last Puffs, though she was in an early draft. Frank is responsible for two daughters, and though he and Vera were on the outs, she was the only friend he could think of to ask if she could watch the girls for two weeks. But I wrote her out when Bimla, one of the working girls from the Lotus House moved in with Frank at the end of Part II.

During the year or two I worked on Last Puffs, I was discovering that some of my favorite Raymond Chandler short stories were long by today’s standards—”Red Wind,” “Goldfish”—about 15,000 words each. I learned that The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest were serialized in Black Mask magazine. Each appeared in 15,000-word segments over four issues. The Dain Curse was another novel that could be divided into four linked stories. I decided to write Last Puffs on the model of The Dain Curse, admittedly not Hammett’s best work, but I like the structure.

We open the book in "Aragón" in 1938. Frank and his best friend Max Rabinowitz are fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic. They meet and both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, a beautiful and courageous Republican guerilla.

Part II is “The Girls from Nanking.” It is now late 1948. Frank is trying his hand at being a private eye. Max is a successful criminal attorney. Frank takes a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. He resolves it, though client Joan ends up in jail on suspicion of murder. In the spring, Max abruptly abandons his practice and moves to . . . Fresno.

And in “We’ll always Have Fresno,” (Part III), the boys are reunited with Amanda who was working in a Fresno cigar factory, plotting revenge against the fascists from her home village that she has tracked to California.

It all comes together (or comes apart for Frank) in Part IV, “Last Puffs.” Will Frank be a good father to the ten-year-old boy Amanda says he fathered? Why does the lad look like Max? Who shot Max in Fresno? Will spy Joan Spring escape to Red China? Can Frank help Amanda on her mission to avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega who seeks to eliminate any witness to the murder of her husband?

Join Frank Swiver and me for Last Puffs, from New Pulp Press.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jo Nesbo's Snowman

Hei, there, (“hei” is Norwegian for hello).

I read The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo (Yo Nesboo) a Harry Hole (Hari HEU-leha) novel. Not my normal cup of tea, but it was the summer reading in my new Hopkins class, “Detectives at Home.” Nordic noir is not my cup of tea because there are too many serial killers, crimes are brutal and graphically described, the landscape seems bleak (to me) and there always seems to be this underlying tension of misogyny and violence against women. But once you get past all that, Nesbo seemed to be a good writer, certainly a few cuts above Stieg Larsson, and this was a clever multi-level police procedural.

The book did a good job incorporating the Scandinavian setting and environment into everything—plot, characters, theme. Harry Hole (depressed, alcoholic, and alone), and a couple other principle characters were well-drawn and developed, though many of the victims were just flat types. I liked Harry, and a female detective on his team, found them interesting and cared about them. I disliked every chapter starting out in another character’s point of view—usually the next victim who only live until the end of the chapter.

There were some clever oddities—murders occurred on the evening of the first snowfall, but by coincidence the ones described were on the nights of U.S. presidential elections. The writing was generally straightforward, plain and unadorned, but occasionally there were effective images and allusions, and weird, unexplained metaphors, the weirdest being that Harry’s house was being treated for a severe case of mold. The Mold Thing is probably worth a whole blog post in itself, but I don't understand it, so I'll leave that to someone else to write. 

I don’t know that I’d read another Jo Nesbo, but he’s a good writer worth a try if you’ve not read any or if you enjoy serial killer police procedurals.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book signing

Sunday, April 23
Book Signing

With author Harley Mazuk signing his novel,

White with Fish, Red with Murder,

at the Mystery Writers of America table, between noon and 3 p.m.
White with Fish, Red with Murder will be for sale at the festival, or bring your copy for an autograph.

Kensington Day of the Book Festival


Howard Ave. at Armory Ave., Kensington, MD


Harley will be signing books and discussing noir, pulp fiction, and wine with friends old and new.

Noon to 3 P.M.


Come on by!



Harley Mazuk

White with Fish, Red with Murder

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Boy Who Cried Virginia Woolf

I signed up for a Stanford Continuing Studies online writing course, “The Gripping Read.” I’m trying to work on a new piece for the workshop. It flowed along fairly well for a few days, then Saturday, I had a very difficult time moving through a scene I was trying to write. Frank (the P.I.), and Vera, ( his ex-and-present lover and assistant), are trying to question a suspect in St. Francis Wood, a posh area of large homes. They go to one built against a hillside, a bit of a Spanish style that rises up, and they walk under a carriage house into a courtyard. There they see the suspect on the patio, one flight up. After a little banter she agrees to talk to them and walks across the patio and enters at the French doors. I had inordinate trouble with this. It must have taken me an hour and a half to put down 150 or so words. I struggled getting Frank and Vera invited up, and getting my suspect off her patio, and through the French doors to receive them. Even now, I’m considering chucking what I’ve written. It just wasn’t flowing.
But I saved that work and turned to the class reading which was from Frank Conroy’s Writers’ Workshop. I hadn’t seen this before but I very much liked it. Conroy breaks writing down to its most . . . elemental . . . elements, and he caught my fancy. Then he told a story of Virginia Woolf, who I believe played bass guitar for the Bloomsbury Group. Asked how her three hours of writing had gone one afternoon, she said, “Very well. I got them through the French doors and out onto the patio.”

My characters were going the other direction, but it was my Virginia Woolf moment. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Blog on

I have a lot of material out in the Blog-o-sphere to share with you. I’m still learning about this blog tour as I go, but it seems a number of sites have posted the interview I gave to the Dark Phantom Review:
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, White with Fish, Red with Murder. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   
A: White with Fish, Red with Murder is the story of private eye…

Joseph Arellano, of Joseph’s Reviews gave me a very positive, generous review:
White with Fish, Red with Murder is a debut work by Harley Mazuk.  This is a mystery novel with some clever locations, quirky characters, and pitch perfect 1940s dialogue.  The narrator, Frank Swiver, is a private detective in San Francisco – circa 1948, who is eager for a paying client.  As luck would have it, Frank’s interest in wine is the ticket to a job!  Retired General Lloyd F. Thursby has planned an excursion on his private rail car with wine tasting as the entertainment.
Here's the rest of the review
A number of fine sites have pushed out an excerpt from the book. Here’s one:
A few lights were on in the lounge; I could see burgundy wallpaper with dark wood trim. To my right were two dining tables, each with four seats, and on the left an upright piano with a light oak finish. Beyond that, a group of folks sat in the far end of the car. I led Vera partway down, until the man facing us spoke.
“Ah, you must be Frank Swiver,” he said.