CriminOlly thinks: A brutal western that’s far more entertaining than it probably should be. 4/5
Title: Ten Thousand Dollars, American | Author: George G Gilman | Series: Edge #2 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 127 | Publication date: 1972 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
I think Edge, the vicious half Mexican, half Scandinavian outlaw hero of ‘Ten Thousand Dollars, American’ might be even more of a dislikable son of a bitch in this book than he was in his debut ‘The Loner’. It’s no surprise he fights alone, when he treats everyone he comes across with such utter contempt.
In this second slim volume in the series, Edge chases a gang of Mexican bandits led by a 5 foot tall psychopath nicknamed El Matador. They’ve stolen his life savings, and his pursuit of them also leads him to learn of a hidden treasure worth, you guessed it, ten thousand dollars, American.
In their time, the books were advertised as the most violent westerns in print and it’s not hard to see why. The action comes thick and fast and is unremittingly brutal. The bandit gang are more ruthless and sadistic than the hero, but it’s a matter of degrees really. In many tales Edge would be the villain of the piece. Here he is the protagonist and his ruthlessness makes him a delight to read.
The secondary characters in the book can be divided into three camps: people Edge actively wants to kill (and therefore does), people he doesn’t care about (who he often kills anyway) and people who fall victim to the people Edge actively wants to kill. Pretty much every named character apart from Edge ends up dead, and when it isn’t by his hand it’s generally only because someone else got there first.
Aside from the violence, there’s a smattering of humour, which is often just Edge making Bond style quips when he kills someone. As you’d expect from a 70s pulp, there’s also sex, with Edge’s masculine hardness proving irresistible to the women he meets. It all adds up to a fantastically enjoyable potboiler.
South of the Border, men live miserably and die violently. Ten American dollars can keep a family for months. Ten thousand dollars American is a vision of earthly paradise. A man would slit the throat of his own grandmother for such a sum.
Edge knows where such a sum is hidden. The bandits know that he knows. The shadow of death lies over them all.
Content Warning: Racism, sexual violence
Tolerance Warning: Extremely sexist, possibly racist