Wednesday 27 May 2009


Jubal Cade 1 - The Killing Trail
Charles R. Pike
Originally published as a paperback original 1974
Cover price £2.50

This was a lucky find for your friendly neighbourhood western freak - This book was originally published in paperback original but Severn House experimented with library editions in 1979 and this is from that printing. It's not even got a library stamp, making it very rare and I found it in a second hand shop. Plus the old lady only charged me 20p but I gave her a pound because that's the kind of guy I am.

Course the fact that Charles R. Pike is really George Gilman who is really Terry Harknett who is actually the author of the legendary Edge series and my all time western writing hero.

I was curious about this hardback edition and so I dropped Terry an email and he confirmed that they were published as library editions. Here's Terry -

That same year Severn House also published a hardback edition of 'Jubal Cade 2: Double Cross' for distribution to the library market but the books obviously failed in this area for the publisher did not continue with the experiment.
A similar fate befell Severn House's attempt to launch Edge into the libraries that same year when for some reason they chose to published #6 and #7 as hardbacks.
And in l985 an outfit called Chivers Press only managed to put out #1 in the Steele series as a hardback under the Firecrest brand before calling it a day. But they fared somewhat better with large print editions of Jubal Cade, publishing the first three titles in the series.
NEL had the same lack of success with two Edge Doubles hardbacks, #l consisting of 'The Loner' and 'Ten Thousand Dollars American' bound into a single volume and 'Apatche Death' and 'Killer's Breed' likewise published some time after the first paperback publication.
NEL also put out in hardback a volume called Edge and Steele Double Action comprising 'Blood Run' and 'Valley of Blood'.
None of these experiments worked in terms of making money for anybody and thus ended this writer's forays into the hardback market. But I'm not complaining since I didn't do too badly out of paperbacks!"

Isn't that great - the power of the internet. I get to chat with someone who entertained me for years when I first disovered the Edge series - anyone who hasn't read them start now. They are the Eastwood/Leone westerns taken to the extreme - yeah, their violent but it's all OTT violence and done very much with tongue in cheek and a style that few other writers were not able to pull off. Edge was a totally captivating character but enough of the bad tempered old half-breed.

What about Jubal Cade?

Cade was raised in a Chicago foundling home and later went to England to learn medicine from the best teachers of the day. He qualified as a doctor and then returned to his native land with his pretty young wife and a dream.

However it's a cruel world and soon the man trained to heal finds himself on a killing trail and by the time the book ends he discovered some things about himself that he rather were kept hidden.

Pike's characters are very much of the sub-genre of Brit-Adult Westerns. And it's not unfair to compare the adult westerns to the video nasties that came a decade later but like the best of these films, the books are widely entertaining without pretension to high art.

What more could anyone want for their money?

Anyone wanting to know more about the Brit adult westerns can check out this brilliant website HERE


Charles Gramlich said...

I only have Jubal Cade 11, which I believe was written by Kennth Bulmer.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Yeah Charles - I think Terry did the first three and I think a number of hands took over for later book.

Steve M said...

As Gary says, the first three were written by Terry Harknett and then Angus Wells took over for the next seven. Book ten sees the end of one of the major storylines that runs through those first ten books. Kenneth Bulmer wrote book 11 as Charles says and Angus then wrote all the rest. There are 22 books altogether. Edge makes an appearance in book 6 and this chapter was supposedly written by Terry.

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