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So Nude, So Dead

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  62 reviews
He’d been a promising piano prodigy, once. Now he was just an addict, scraping to get by, letting his hunger for drugs consume him. But a man’s life can always get worse - as Ray Stone discovers when he wakes up beside a beautiful nightclub singer only to find her dead... and 16 ounces of pure heroin missing. On the run from the law, desperate to prove his innocence and fi ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1952)
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James Thane
This pulp novel from the early 1950s is of interest principally because it was the first crime novel ever published by Ed McBain, who would go on to become one of the masters of crime fiction, best known for his 87th Precinct series. This book first appeared in 1952 as The Evil Sleep!, under the name Evan Hunter. (In 1952, either just before or just after this book was published, the author legally changed his name from Salvatore Lombino to Evan Hunter after writing some short stories as "Evan H ...more
Welcome to the world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll I mean jazz. Ray Stone was a hardcore heroin user (or junkie in non-PC terms). One day he met a beautiful young woman who shared his "hobby". Not only this, but she also happened to have a big amount of pure heroine. In other words, it was any junkie wet dream.
Next morning Ray woke up hoping for his paradise to be there only to realize the woman was shot dead (thus the title) and the heroin is nowhere to be found. Junkies make excellent scap
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ed McBain (writing as Richard Marsten) takes his first 'stab' at crime fiction. Initially, I thought this may be one man's anti-drug campaign in novel form, but it settles out into an adrenaline fuelled finish.

After just finishing Lawrence Block's first novel, Sinner Man, I thought McBain's was more polished and less noir-formulaic and comic book. Still, there are some gaffes that McBain would certainly not have made in his later writings. But I enjoyed this, despite it not being a 87th Precinc
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So Nude, So Dead was the first crime novel by the writer most famously known as Ed McBain, and was originally published in 1952 as The Evil Sleep! (under the name of Evan Hunter), and again in 1956 as So Nude, So Dead under the pen name of Richard Marsten. Thanks to those wonderful people at Hard Case Crime, the book* has been re-published over 50 years later, to mark the tenth anniversary of McBain’s passing.

As a lifelong fan of McBain, the re-emergence of a ‘lost’ book by him has been an absol
Evan Hunter, writing under the pseudonym of Ed McBain, penned this book 60 years ago. It was his first of many, and he shows some surprisingly mature chops as a young writer in this one.

Former pianist Ray Stone is a heroin addict in the midst of severe withdrawal, and on the run as the primary suspect in the murder of a jazz club singer. Pretty standard pulpish noir fare, and a plot that is very common in this genre.

McBain does pretty well at maintain the breakneck pace from the get-go, in whic
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ed McBain's debut novel is a fun, quasi PI read.

Ray Stone is an addict. A former pianist who has succumbed to his vice. It's while indulging in this deadly habit that he finds himself chief suspect in the murder of young nightclub singer Eileen; the naked blonde who was dead his dead with two bullet holes in her belly.

In order to clear his name, Ray conducts his own drug addled investigation to prove his innocence and find the murderer. As his dependency for his drug of choice dissipates his cla
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Originally published in 1952 under the title THE EVIL SLEEP! by his, at the time, Evan Hunter pseudonym, it was released in 1956 under this title as by Richard Marsten, another pen name. It hasn't been available in more than fifty years. Hard Case Crime is bringing this edition in July.

It was his first crime novel, the story of a man looking for the murderer everyone believed him to be. The hook is that Ray Stone is a heroin addict, waking next to the shot up corpse of the young singer. There's
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
"There's a monkey on my back, a fifteen-pound monkey and his name is Horse."
Samuel Tyler
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
What’s in a name? A lot if you decide to call your book ‘‘So Nude, So Dead’’. This is a title to conjure with, what on Earth is it about? As this is a ‘‘Hard Case’’ title it is likely to be hardboiled and not adverse to a little violence and titillation. However, consider that the book was once call ‘‘The Evil Sleep!’’ and has since been renamed; is this more a case of the title selling the book rather than accurately portraying its content?

When Ray Stone wakes up he has two major problems; wher
Mark Kosobucki
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book that stacks the deck so high against one person that despite Ray Stone's history of addiction to heroin and all the heartbreak he caused the people in his life, you cheer for him to not only clear his name but to also beat his addiction. Awesome book. ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
"So Nude, So Dead" and "Unavailable for over 50 Years" screams the cover. How can you NOT read this early Ed McBain novel, and what's with the pseudonym anyway? Good grief, at about the same time, James Baldwin published "Giovanni's Room" under his own name and it was a far more controversial novel (but Giovanni wasn't naked on the cover). Darn these double standards! ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Plot is okay and it's development becomes quite enjoyable once you stop paying too much attention to the story holes (like where are the cops?!?), loose ends and coincidences. The final whodunit is decent although far from shocking. All in all, it's a good, honest and unpretentious writing without moralizing or preaching on a difficult subject of drug addiction. I imagine it was pretty ground-breaking 60 years ago.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Al Stoess
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: McBain fans
McBain's first. It Shows. He got much better as he wrote in later times. ...more
John Marr
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime
Let me just say Mr. McBain got better. Much better.
Andrew Diamond
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked this up in a bookstore the other day because I liked the lurid, 1950s pulp style of the cover, and the opening chapter was good. I hadn't read Ed McBain before, and I was surprised to read a first novel in which the plotting, dialog, and characters are solid throughout.

The main character, Ray Stone, is an addict who finds himself framed for a murder and has to prove his innocence. Some elements of the book are dated, such as the descriptions of fight scenes, which play out exactly as t
Michael Fredette
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
So Nude, So Dead was first published in 1952 with the title The Evil Sleep! under the name Evan Hunter (two years before he found success with The Blackboard Jungle), then reprinted four years later with its current title under the pseudonym Richard Marsten, and finally re-issued in 2015 by Hard Case Crime with the name Ed McBain. So Nude, So Dead is McBain's first crime novel, and first book for adults. The protagonist, Ray Stone is a former piano prodigy who becomes a heroin addict. He meets a ...more
Jim  Davis
Oct 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
I got about 40% into the story and finally gave up although I am a big fan of his later 87th Precinct stories. The writing isn't very good with exaggerated and not very accurate descriptions of drug addiction. Of course I realize that an addict feels really horrible and will do almost anything to get a fix but the descriptions of Ray's pain and need kept hitting the same single note without producing any empathy in the reader, or at least not this reader.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time
Andrew F
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another Hard Case Crime book, another four stars. This one was the first crime book by "Ed McBain" and the hook is genius...A junkie "hophead" in 1950s New York must solve a murder he's the prime suspect in...while fighting off his own withdrawals!

Compellingly readable, dependably violent and cool as ice, So Nude So Dead was a top draw read for me, my only slight regret is McBain doesn't murder the momentum a little in that final chapter and shine a light as to what happens to Ray next. As far
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author of So Nude, So Dead is listed as Richard Marsten on Goodreads but is really Ed McBain of 87th Precinct fame. So Nude, So Dead (McBain obviously belonged to the Bill Davis school of book titling) was a first novel, but it is still entertaining over five decades later. It is also very reminiscent of James Ellroy, who has stated more than once that this type of story was a big influence on him. Violent and visceral like any good pulp thriller, too-and there is a bonus short story ("Die H ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
So Nude, So Dead, So Dull. There is a reason why this has not been reprinted in 50 years. While McBain went on to produce much better books, this one is boring. Read about 70 pages and quit. Might read last chapter, but probably not. Very little mystery, but way too much about drug addiction. I am a big fan of Noir and mysteries in general. Have read every book published by Hard Case Crime and only found 2 or 3 that were not good.
Ace McGee
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulp

Screams the front cover. Well, this book could have stayed hidden for another fifty years as far as I’m concerned. With the unlikeliest of protagonists, a junky in withdrawal, we hunt NY City for a motive, a killer, and oh yes, a fix. With the cops on his tail and those nasty mobsters even closer, how will this all end?

This novel gives pulp a bad name. I couldn’t put it down. Enjoy.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great story! This is a real page turner. Not only is Ray a dope fiend with a monkey on his back, but he wakes up next to a dead girl with 16 oz of pure heroin missing. Right from the start, I was hooked and had a hard time putting it down at all. I'd highly recommend it! ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it
A wild ride down a dark street.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great crime novel about a heroin addict framed for murder and on the run unable to get a fix. The mystery was great and the action was gripping. I didn't want to stop reading. Loved it. ...more
Edward Smith
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good early read from Ed McBain. I love how his character changes as the book progresses.

the first few paragraphs of Chapter Eleven are worth the time in itself, Pure McBain.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this pulp novel about an is one framed for murder, who struggles against his addiction while trying to find the real murderer.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
My dad used to borrow Ed McBain books from the library, the Steve Carella/87th precinct series which as far as I know was his main output, yellow-covered Gollancz Crime editions. They were quite fun, a bit like Kojak, lots of back story about the detectives. So when I was looking for something in the crime/detective vein to help me eke out the Chandlers for another year or two and I saw this, with its lurid retro-pulp cover and title, I thought I'd give it a go.

Apparently it was his first publis
Craig Childs
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Ray Stone awakes in a hotel room, his body already craving his next shot of heroine, to find his one night stand dead with two bullets in her gut and sixteen ounces of pure horse stolen.

I have read many noir novels from the 50’s and 60’s, most of them courtesy of the Hard Case Crime reprints. This early novel from Ed McBain is one of the better examples from the era. It was only the author’s second book. It was originally published with the title The Evil Sleep under his real name, Evan Hunter.
Jared Ball
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evan Hunter or Ed McBain to those in the know was a fantastic crime fiction author who captured the ins and outs of society in the 1950's in a way that few authors could at the time. So Nude, So Dead was originally titled "The Evil Sleep!" and was McBain's first crime novel and his second novel overall. In this book we find a tale of a man in the midst of self destruction. Ray Stone former piano player full time hop head with a capital H. His heroin addiction which has destroyed all semblance of ...more
Baker St Shelves
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is this the greatest book in the world? No. Is this even the best noir novel the genre has to offer? Nope! But is this a fun book? Absolutely! It’s something we’ve seen in stories similar to this. A man wakes up next to a dead woman with no memory of last night, naturally the cops immediately mark him as a suspect especially since he’s a known heroine addict. With the cops on his trail, he has to find out who’s the real killer.
The book moves at a smooth pace and we’re introduced to several poten
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"Ed McBain" is one of the pen names of American author and screenwriter Salvatore Albert Lombino (1926-2005), who legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952.

While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956.

He also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, Dean

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