CriminOlly thinks: A brutal western that’s far more entertaining than it probably should be. 3/5
Title: California Killing | Author: George G Gilman | Series: Edge #7 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 127 | Publication date: 1973 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
I’m not sure if it’s because George G Gilman had churned out six other Edge books in quick succession before ‘California Killing’, or because I’ve read them almost as quickly, but the seventh in the series didn’t delight me as much as the previous books.
The plot, such as it is, sees Edge tryout to get back money stolen from him in a stagecoach hold up. The action mostly takes place in a small Californian town and with the usual rivalries between powerful men. Gilman has great fun implying that the town (literally called The Town With No Name) will become Hollywood. Pretty much every character and location has a movie-relayed name: Mayer, Wayne, Bronson, the Paramount Hotel, the RKO Ranch and so on. Whether the reader has as much fun is questionable. It’s a gag that’s amusing at first, but quickly outstays its welcome. I also found it made it harder to remember who all the characters were.
The action, though, is just as brutal as you’d expect, even if the body count is lower than in many of the other books. It’s packed with shootouts, torture, maiming and rape. In fact there’s even more of the last than in previous books. Like the humour, it’s starting to feel a bit over used and unwelcome.
On a more positive note, there’s a bit more about Edge’s Mexican heritage, with one of the villains of the piece clearly marked out as such by his racism. There’s also a great finale, including a ridiculous but brilliant death for the main villain.
Not as good as the previous books then, but still the kind of punchy, pulpy entertainment that will keep readers looking for that kind of thing happy for a couple of hours.
It seemed nice. A quiet little town, just outside Los Angeles. The central building is a theatre run by Rodney Holly. Right next door is the photographer, Justin Wood. A small pleasant place to live, the kind of place people dream about.
But people die there. Some silently and alone, others shot down in the uneasy streets. It’s amazing how blood can run cold in the hot California sun. Before long, there are no dreams left…just the edge of a nightmare.
Content Warning: Racism, sexual violence
Tolerance Warning: Sexism