Tuesday 8 December 2015


2 from LA Morse (might as well be 3 really.)

LA Morse is not an author I’m overly familiar with. Whilst I was logging the library I came across one of his books – The Big Enchilada - a book I remembered enjoying for a variety of reasons many years ago.

Nostalgia rules in my world – if he wrote one book I absolutely loved, the chances are the rest will appeal to me – so I looked them up and here we are.

I can’t find too much information on him on the internet, but there is an author biography at Goodreads…… Larry Alan Morse grew up in Los Angeles. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State College, and somehow managed to get two degrees in English Lit. He moved to Toronto in the late ‘60s, and has had the usual variety of jobs, including a brief stint in educational television and five years as an administrator at the University of Toronto. Upon returning from extended travels through Southeast Asia, he decided to try and write a novel – something delicate and sensitive and artistic. He discovered just what he was looking for in the true story of Sawney Beane and his family, The Flesh Eaters, the 15th century cannibal clan who ate their way through a good part of Scotland.

L. A. Morse has written four other crime novels. The Old Dick won an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America; The Big Enchilada and Sleaze, featuring Sam Hunter, the L. A. private eye who, according to one reviewer, “makes Dirty Harry look like Mother Teresa”; and he was instrumental in arranging the publication of An Old-Fashioned Mystery, the lost masterpiece by the enigmatic and reclusive author, Runa Fairleigh. He shifted to another medium with the publication of Video Trash and Treasures, a two-volume guide to the obscure and bizarre movies of the 1980s.

For the last 15 years, L. A. Morse has worked as a visual artist, primarily sculpture. He is an avid birder with over 1,500 species on his world list. When not off looking for birds in the tropics, he currently divides his time between stone carving and making a living in the stock market.

What interests me is the bit in the middle about Runa Fairleigh’s lost masterpiece An Old-Fashioned Mystery as apparently Morse is Fairleigh, or is it Fairleigh is Morse?

I have to think Runa Fairleigh is a pun of some description.


"A timeless delight. The more murder mysteries you have read, the likelier you will relish this one." -- Toronto Globe and Mail

"This book might well have been titled THE LAST MYSTERY, since it is most definitely the mystery to end all mysteries."

--from the Introduction by L.A. Morse, Edgar award-winning author of THE OLD DICK
Ten guests have gathered at an isolated summer estate amid the Thousand Islands. The occasion is a surprise party to celebrate Rosa Sill's 25th birthday, the day she inherits the family fortune. But one surprise awaits them: the party quickly turns to a case of murder.

Violet Cornichon, the Society-Girl Detective, is on-hand, and it is up to her to gather all the clues and point them toward the suspects... or is that the potential victims. Because the killer is hardly finished with his deadly night, with bodies turning up, murdered in terrible and brutal ways. Which begs the old-fashioned question: whodunit?

SLEAZE (1985)
 "Next to Sam Hunter, Dirty Harry looks like Mother Theresa." - New York Daily News
Los Angeles private eye Sam Hunter doesn't have a soft side. Everything about him is a hard as a knuckle to the face. So, when a call for help comes in from a trashy porn magazine, it's not out of the goodness of his heart that Sam takes the case. It has more to do with the curves of the magazine's sizzling-hot editor.

The magazine is called Sleaze, and that's exactly what has made it the target of a fanatical cult, one willing to shed blood to cleanse its "holy land." Soon, Sam finds out that morality and sin aren't so black and white as his investigation slides down a path towards X-rated videos, a Tijuana corpse, and thugs that want Sam dead. Unfortunately for them, they've chosen a hard man to kill.

From L.A. Morse, the Edgar Award-winning author of THE FLESH EATERS and THE OLD DICK and THE BIG ENCHILADA, comes another electrifying tale of Sam Hunter, a low-down, dirty fighter who takes a hit and hits back harder.


Retired private eye Jake Spanner may have gotten old, but he hasn't gone soft. When an old gangster Jake put away some forty years ago shows up at his door, it's time for Jake to grab his hat and Browning automatic and get back to work.

Old? Sure. Slower to catch his breath? Maybe. But, sharp as a tack and with a lifetime of investigating know-how, Jake Spanner has nothing to lose and everything to prove. Sniffing out leads between Sunset Boulevard and the Hollywood Hills, Jake pulls in old friends to help. The work is hard; it's gritty. So is Jake. And, with a three quarters of a million dollars ransom at stake, the bad guys don't stand a chance.

With THE OLD DICK, author L.A. Morse creates a new kind of hero, one that laughs at death not because he's too young to understand it, but because it's right around the corner. It's time to face it head on and maybe go out swinging.


  1. New to me as well, Col. But I'd pick up any paperback with covers like that, and I think I'd know what to expect.

    1. The covers are great aren't they - hopefully the tales do them justice!

  2. I have to say the covers got my attention right away, too, Col! And the stories seem to be a good fit for them, too. I like your point that if you really enjoy one book by an author, the chances are you'll find others worth reading, too. And with a PI like Jake Spanner on the case, I have the feeling you won't be disappointed - I hope you won't.

    1. Margot - thanks. Hopefully, I won't keep myself waiting too long before I read these!

  3. the Old-Fashioned Mystery is....mysterious. It sounds a lot more my kind of thing than the others...

    1. I think you can find the Morse intro to the book on-line - maybe Google books - or try a kindle sample on Amazon - it does sound an interesting set-up.... a story about the story. Tell me what you think.

  4. My son had a non-fiction book by him: Video Trash & Treasures. I know I have heard of him, may have read one of his mystery novels way back when. AN OLD-FASHIONED MYSTERY is new to me though.

    1. Tracy, I'm glad you've encountered him in the past. I think I'll enjoy these ones, though AN OLD-FASHIONED MYSTERY seems a bit different to his other work.

  5. Larry Morse is an old friend of mine from my Toronto days ... and yes, "Runa Fairleigh" is a pun. "Runes" are "clues", so it's a "Fairly clued" mystery. I think "An Old Fashioned Mystery" is delightful but you have to be ready for what I call a "meta-mystery". And 'Video Trash and Treasures", in two volumes, is a great piece of work. Essentially Larry used to go to the video store on Saturday night and rent things that no one else wanted, and review them.

    1. Noah - thanks for dropping by and a great bit of extra info for me.
      I was aware of his non-fiction "Video Trash and Treasures" but you might have just sold it to me after the details on the origins of the books.