Tuesday, 21 April 2009
J T EDSON - THE REBEL SPY
The Rebel Spy
J. T. Edson
This edition Corgi books 1974
first published 1968
Cover price 35p
I'm not sure if this is actually J. T. Edson's first western since various Internet lists place it at different positions but it is marked as number 1 so I suppose it must be. Perhaps some knowledgeable western fan can let me know where this actually comes in Edson's remarkably large canon. I think that the numbering on the book is the chronological order of the books but the dates inside the book are of little help. For instance they all seem to be marked as 1968.
I bought a stack of these books - 77 titles in all - for £50 from a second hand shop a few months ago (see photograph below) and have only now gotten around to tackling them.
Now again I'm not sure (Each Internet list contradicts the other) but I think the books, all consecutively numbered from 1 - 76, are the entire works of this prolific British western writer. Again maybe one of The Archive readers will have more info.
Still this purchase represents a bargain for any western fan and book collector.
The book takes place in the late period of the Civil War with Dusty Fog being teamed up with female spy, the rebel spy of the title, in order to foil a Union scheme to flood the Southern states with counterfeit money in order to destroy their already weakened economy.
General "Ole Devil" Hardin knows that the forging plant must be destroyed but the problem is that it is situated in Union controlled New Orleans. He needs an expert to get behind enemy lines and do the deed and so he selects Belle Boyd, a beautiful woman with a vicious right hook and a particular skill at operating with stealth. She teams up with Dusty Fog of The Floating Outfit and together they come up against the might of the Union army.
It's strange that I've never read Edson in the past since his books were always visible in the shops, alongside Louis L'amour, George Gilman, Oliver Strange and a few others, when I was a kid but maybe it's for the best since these books are all new to me and I've got quite a bit of reading ahead of me to get through the lot.
I enjoyed this book very much and I know that Dusty Fog, Ole Devil Hardin and Belle Boyd are characters that pop up again in later works so maybe I'll have more to say when I get familiar with the characters, but as a stand alone western this book was bloody good fun.