CriminOlly thinks: An interesting change of pace for the series, with a focus on Edge’s back story. It’s still absolutely brutal though. 4/5
Title: Killer’s Breed | Author: George G Gilman | Series: Edge #4 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 158 | Publication date: 1972 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
Four books into the ‘Edge’ series and George G Gilman (aka British author Terry Harknett) gives us his lead’s origin story. The timing of it is perfect and evidence of Harknett’s talent as a writer. It’s easy to dismiss someone who churned out getting on for 200 pulp novels, mostly under pen names, as a hack. To do so ignores the simple brilliance of his books. They’re little slices of pulp perfection. Gripping tales of violence and vengeance that pack a punch, fire up the blood and appeal to our baser instincts.
Following on directly from the previous book (‘Apache Death’), ‘Killer’s Breed’ sees a critically injured Edge returning to his family home. Anyone who has read previous books will know that every single member of his family is dead, so it’s no surprise that it is now occupied by strangers . The mother and daughter take him in and the rest of the book alternates between current events as Edge gradually recovers, and his memories of his early days as a soldier in the Civil War.
The result is a book that feels quite different from the previous three, whilst still being true to the sprit of the series. The younger Joe Hedges, unblooded and still a virgin farm boy, is poles apart from the brutal killer we have seen so far, but the transition we witness feels credible. This is a war story as much as it is a western, and much is made of the horror of conflict and its impact on both soldiers and civilians.
Gilman builds the tension perfectly, with threats to both the younger and older Edge. The usual graphic sex and violence abound, and are used just as well as in previous books. Whilst the reader never doubts that Edge will survive to fight another day, there is always the question of how. This time around the ending is surprising and rather wonderful, rounding off another very enjoyable entry in the series.
It wasn’t the way he was born or brought up. Something happened. Something that turned him, mind and soul, into a case-hardened man. His was a life shaped by death. He was a man alone, living by his own personal code, and committed to violence as a means of survival.
In this, the fourth chapter of his story, we see how Josiah Hedges, now known as Edge, brought his vicious brand of combat into the carnage we’ve come to refer as our civil war, and survivors of both sides were left with the feeling that this was a man fighting a war of his own.
Content Warning: Rape
Tolerance Warning: Homophobia