CriminOlly thinks: Mean-spirited and intolerant, but brutal fun nevertheless 4/5
Title: Blood on Silver | Author: George G Gilman | Series: Edge #5 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 125 | Publication date: 1972 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
Edge is back and as ruthless a son of a bitch as ever. This, the 5th book in the series, starts with him calmly watching as a wedding party including women and children is slaughtered by a vicious gang led by a huge, red-bearded Quaker. Our anti-hero stays in hiding until the killers have left, then proceeds to help himself to food and champagne from the wedding breakfast. It’s fair to say that, as advertised, Edge isn’t your in of the mill white hatted cowboy protagonist.
The story progresses with Edge pissing off the Quaker and then teaming up with man mountain Zulu warrior Anatali to escort a wagon full of silver. Before the book is out, we’re treated to crosses, double crosses, chases and of course tonnes of graphic violence (including a couple of pretty unpleasant torture scenes). In the end, Edge does something vaguely decent, but only because it’s no more real effort than being an arsehole.
It’s as gripping and grimly enjoyable as you’d expect, if you’ve read any of the other books in the series. Anatali makes for an interesting partner for Edge. Strong, principled and stoical, if a little naïve, he’s almost the opposite of the wily, ruthless Mexican/Swedish hero. It’s disappointing (although maybe not entirely surprising), that Gilman relies on some pretty crude racial stereotypes at times, but then 70s pulp westerns probably aren’t the right place to look for balanced representation. The book also features the kind of brutal misogyny that’s common in the pulps, with female characters mostly there to be abused and then saved.
Sometimes I question whether I should enjoy books that are this mean-spirited and intolerant, but the sparse writing and the bloody action are enough to make me put my concerns to one side. So much popular culture falls short in some way or another that policing one’s own enjoyment of it feels like a futile task, as well as a slippery slope.
The Comstock Lode was one of the richest silver strikes the world had ever seen, and Edge was ready to claim his share. So was the Tabor gang–sadistic killers led by a renegade Quaker. But if the Tabors thought they could get Edge’s silver, they were going to find another metal instead–hot lead!
Content Warning: Racism, sexual violence, torture
Tolerance Warning: Racism, sexism, homophobia