Edge 29: The Living, The Dying & The Dead by George G. Gilman (Terry Harknett) First NEL paperback edition December 1978 Cover illustration by Tony Masero
Horror anthologies, horror anthologies, horror anthologies. You're all horror anthology mad, you lot. British horror anthology this, British horror anthology that. Anyone would think this was British Horror Anthology Hell or something. Well, that's all well and good but let's not forget that it was westerns and books about Hell's Angels that made this country great and this board what it is today. That and slavery. And oversexed window cleaners. What's that, Mr. Crab? If you have something to say perhaps you'd be good enough to share it with the rest of the class. Bats out of where? The sucking what? Stop sniggering, Marsh! Crab, see me afterwards. Mains, are you wearing a beak?
Who can fathom the mysteries of the human mind? Well, there's those people, what are they called?, the ones you pay money to so they'll let you lie on their sofa... that's it, Scientologists. But can they really get down into the cracks and crevices of the psyche or do they merely scratch away at the surface like some mental dentist? Frankly, I just don't know.
Edge 29: The Living, The Dying, etc. follows, perhaps not all together surprisingly, the events of Edge 28: Eve of Evil, reviewed elsewhere by my esteemed colleague the erstwhile Mr Raygun. We join Edge in snowy Denver where he's been gainfully employed clearing the wrong sort of leaves off railway tracks. But Edge is a drifter and not one to hold down a steady job for any longer than is absolutely necessary (a man after my own giro) so as soon as an opportunity presents itself to get the fuck out of Denver, he hops a train and... fucks off. His new job is to escort a crate containing the dead body of Silas Martin's Chinese wife to its final resting place in New York. At least, I think she's Chinese. She's called Mai Lin, which sounds Chinese to me, and the blurb on the back mentions "a dead Chinese" but Silas reckons he met her on the island of Miyake off the east coast of Honshu, which I'm fairly sure is in Japan, and when her sister, Sui Lin (who also sounds Chinese) turns up later in the book, she goes round calling everybody San. Basically she's 'oriental'. Who wrote this, Wendy Richard? Anyway, chances are Silas isn't being strictly truthful about the whole business because there's a bunch of Samurai - well, three of them... we'll call them 'The Three Samurai' - who'll quite literally stop at nothing to get their hands on said crate and what would they want with a dead Sino-Japanese woman? No, there must be more to it. As indeed - one train wreck and umpteen violent deaths later - there is. What's that you say, only umpteen? Well, yeah, but one of them's a beheading and there's a bit of arm-breaking as well to be going on with. Oh, and somebody gets his bollocks blown off. This is good Edge. It may owe something to the 'Samurai goes West' classic, Red Sun, which Harknett had novelised (as William Terry) a few years previously, but not too much. Edge is on good wise-cracking form and even if he has a tendency to do a bit too much soul-searching at times which can slow things down, if it moves he'll still shoot it. What more can you ask?
Mains, bring that beak here. You can have it back at the end of the lesson.
If anybody would like a copy of this, I've got a spare one. Condition good/fair except the first title page which somebody has ripped the bottom off and written 'GAVISCON' across in capital letters. If you wrote that and still haven't bought any Gaviscon yet, consider this a reminder. Oh, and there's a tiny hole/tear in p.27/28 which partiallly obscures the words, 'talking', 'moving', 'man' and 'younger' (please keep this for reference).