Pulp Paperback: Edge – The Loner by George G Gilman #BookReview

This is the first book in a new western series, but it’s more than just another novel of the American west. This is the bloodiest and most violent story that ever erupted from our native territory. Here is mean, bone-chilling raw stuff, a compelling tale you’ll never forget.

His given name was Josiah Hedges, an innocent-enough monicker. But one look at the cruel set of his mouth and the icy penetration of his blue eyes and anyone would recognize pure danger in man’s clothing. Now let’s find out how this man lost his name and became known as Edge.

Title: The Loner | Author: George G Gilman | Series: Edge #1 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 138 | Publication date: 1972 | Source: Self-purchased

God knows how many times I’ve passed up the opportunity to buy books in the ‘Edge’ series for peanuts, but now that I’ve read one I’ll be scouring the charity shops for them. This is pulp done right: short, brutal and full of colour. Written by Englishman Terry Harknett under the far more grizzled sounding pen name George G Gilman, there were 61 entries in the series, along with another 3 where the titular hero teamed up with another of Gilman’s western characters, Adam Steele. This Kindle edition of the first of the ‘Edge’ books has an introduction from Harknett which talks about how he got into the western genre (writing movie novelisations).

The story here is pretty typical western fare. A lone hero battling a ruthless gang in an attempt to get vengeance for his dead brother.The plot moves along at a pace and is chock full of action and incident. What makes it such a great read is the writing and the central character. Edge is a thoroughly dislikable bastard, but so determined, and so much less evil than the villains of the piece, that you can’t help rooting for in. The fact that he is half Mexican is also fascinating for a pulp western and allows Gilman to address racism in a way that few westerns do.

Gilman’s prose is pure pulp. Terse and punchy but descriptive where it needs to be (mostly when describing sex or violence). It’s superbly gripping and enjoyably nasty, with more than enough death and mayhem to please anyone.

I loved every sweaty, bloody page and can’t wait to read more of them.


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