THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE by Peter McCurtin, Leisure 213ZK, Dec 1974.

 

Set in Chapmans Corners, Maine, the same little town McCurtin used as the setting for COSA NOSTRA.

 

 

 

 

In 1974 John Littell edited the Ryker series by Nelson DeMille (and later Leonard Levinson and Paul Hofrichter.) In 1975 McCurtin edited the Hunter series by Ralph Hayes. Hayes, who would soon be ghosting Peter McCurtin books, wrote all of the Hunter books that were published under his byline.

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J.W. O'DELL

J.W. O'Dell's name shows up on the copyright records of four books in 1975, after which his name disappears from all books and copyright applications. I think that qualifies him as a man of mystery. J.W. O'Dell first appears in March 1975 as the application author on MANNIX #1; THE FACES OF MURDER by J.T. MacCargo. This is a novelization from a TV script by Stanley Roberts.  MacCargo's name is well-known to hardboiled mystery fans because Peter Rabe shared the pen name. Rabe was the author of MANNIX #2 and #4.  “MacCargo” sounds like a McCurtin creation.

Three months later O'Dell is the name behind the pseudonym on a Leisure called TIDAL WAVE by Martin Wallace Tyler. A short month after that, in July 1975, O'Dell's name appears on the copyright application for THE SHARPSHOOTER #15: A DIRTY WAY TO DIE by Bruno Rossi.  A DIRTY WAY TO DIE has obviously been written using the same formula Len Levinson has explained to us was used in 1977 for THE CAMP by Jonathan Trask. Peter McCurtin is clearly the author of the first chapter, in which a Mob-controlled cop (Detective Lieutenant Frank Carney) and an old Don plot to frame Johnny Rock for the murder of a feeble-minded child. Chapter Two finds Rock at the other end of the country in San Francisco, hunting for the Doctor who, it turns out, suggested the plan to the cop. The child is dead, and nothing at all is ever said or done about that murder or the old Don or Frank Carney. A new set of characters make up the rest of the book, a seemingly unrelated caper in which Rock hunts down an ex-Green Beret Doctor, who, it turns out, is a sick and twisted sex slave! The writing style is unmistakably Russell Smith. Chapter One is all but ignored. I think McCurtin later made another pass at this plot in a Marksman called THE TIMES SQUARE CONNECTION, in which a Mob-controlled evil Detective Lieutenant and an old Don plot to frame Magellan for the murder of a feeble-minded kid. This time Magellan goes after the guilty criminals.

And in November 1975, J.W. O'Dell's name appears as the author LOAN SHARK, BT 50864. This tough and tight thriller has been deservedly lauded on the internet by bloggers like Olman Feelyus and Ed Gorman, and by Justin Marriott in the pages of PAPERBACK FANATIC. It was Marriott who wondered if O'Dell might be connected to Peter McCurtin.   After O'Dell appeared as the name behind the pseudonyms on three books, the copyright application for LOAN SHARK reads: “by J.W. O'Dell. Application author: Tower Publications Inc.” That designation usually means that the name on the published book is a pseudonym. For example, MANNIX #2, which we know Peter Rabe wrote, has a copyright application that says “by J.T. MacCargo, application author: Tower Publications, Inc.” (#4's record gives us the application author's real name. It reads “Pseudonym of Peter Rabe”).  We know J.T. MacCargo was a McCurtin-edited house name used by Peter Rabe. So who was J.W. O'Dell? I got my answer in late 2015 when I interviewed John S. Littell, who had worked as an editor at Belmont Tower in the 1970s. He told me that J.W. O'Dell was one of Peter McCurtin's pen names. It makes sense that McCurtin was MacCargo. It also makes sense that J.T. MacCargo and J.W. O'Dell were the same person - two of the many faces of Peter McCurtin. This suggests that McCurtin is most probably the uncredited author of MANNIX #3. And our friend Justin Marriott was correct when he first linked O'Dell's LOAN SHARK to Peter. So we add the four books by J.W. O'Dell, and the names J.T. MacCargo and Martin Wallace Smith, to our McCurtin checklist. John Littell said the reason Peter used different names on different copyright applications was “for tax purposes”.

 

MANNIX #1: THE FACES OF MURDER by J.T. MacCargo, BT 50793, March 1975. TV tie-in. Novelization of a teleplay by Stanley Roberts. Copyright application author: J.W. O'Dell.

 

MANNIX #3: A WALK ON THE BLIND SIDE by J.T. MacCargo. BT 50825, 1975. MacCargo = McCurtin. Peter McCurtin shared this pseudonym with Peter Rabe. TV tie-in, novelization of a teleplay by Albert Beich. The copyright application states MacCargo is registering this for “editorial revision & additional text”. Application author: “Tower Publications Inc (J.T. MacCargo”.

 

 

TIDAL WAVE by Martin Wallace Tyler, Leisure 271DK, 1975. Pseudonym of J.W. O'Dell.

 

Disaster epics were all the rage in 1975, so McCurtin jumped on with this thriller set in the Hawaiian Islands.

LOAN SHARK by J.W. O'Dell, BT 50864, 1975. Pseudonym of Peter McCurtin.

 

Not the same book as LOANSHARK by Peter McCurtin, BT 51437, 1979.

 

 

The first four Hunter books. Author: Ralph Hayes. Editor: Peter McCurtin.

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First SOLDIER OF FORTUNE Series

 

Peter McCurtin created two separate SOLDIER OF FORTUNE series, nine books in each set, the first in 1976-1978 and the second in 1984-85. The Soldier of Fortune is Jim Rainey, a men's adventure book staple much like the heroes of bestselling mercenary books by other writers. McCurtin sets his series apart from the pack by having the books narrated in first person in a tough hardboiled style by Rainey. The impersonal third person narrative of his competitors is topped by McCurtin's easy-going, colloquial style. After the first three by McCurtin, the next six were all by Ralph Hayes.

 

At age 88, Ralph Hayes is not only still with us, he is still writing and publishing books with a series of Westerns from Robert Hale in the UK. Ralph Hayes told me the Soldier of Fortune books were the only titles he wrote as Peter McCurtin. I asked him if he ever wrote for The Marksman or The Sharpshooter series and he said “No”.  Hayes has written almost one hundred books over the last 48 years, many of them crackerjack paperback originals. Most of those were published with his real name on the byline. He used at least four pseudonyms:  Nick Carter (eight titles), John Hardesty (one Leisure Book called THE KILLING GROUND), Dodge Tyler (a house name shared with John Amos on the Dan'l Boone Lost Wilderness series), and – on the Soldier of Fortune books – Peter McCurtin.

Ralph Hayes wrote several series for Tower and Leisure during Peter McCurtin's tenure as series editor including Buffalo Hunter, Agent for Cominsec and The Hunter.  He also wrote the Check Force and Stoner series for Manor Books around the same time he was writing Jim Rainey stories as McCurtin.

 

Ralph Hayes told me, “Peter McCurtin was my editor at Tower Publications for some time, in addition to Milburn Smith, John Littell and Jane Thornton.”

 

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#1: MASSACRE AT UMTALI – BT 50915, May 1976. Copyright Peter McCurtin.

Jim Rainey goes to Rhodesia.

 

 

As the excellent Vault of Evil website's page on this series tells it, there were numerous editions of these books, including a series of Tower reprints in the 1980's with photo covers that look to be posed by an escapee from the Village People. None of those reprints will be shown here. 

#2: THE DEADLIEST GAME – BT 50936, June 1976. Copyright Peter McCurtin. Jim Rainey and friends in Argentina.

 

 

 

 

#3: SPOILS OF WAR – BT 50967, Sept 1976. Copyright Peter McCurtin.  Rainey in Lebanon.

#4: THE GUNS OF PALEMBANG – BT 51113, Jan 1977. Copyright Ralph Hayes.  Jim Rainey in Indonesia.

 

#5: FIRST BLOOD by Peter McCurtin, BT 51133, Mar 1977. Copyright: Peter McCurtin, pseudonym of Ralph Hayes.  Jim Rainey in the Panama Canal Zone. 

The series was called Death Dealer, not Soldier of Fortune, in Great Britain. As this first printing from 1978 shows, there is no mention of a series on the cover. NEL 43851, May 1978. 

 

I don't have the wherewithal to show all of the many reprints here, but I do have two British covers for FIRST BLOOD to give an idea of the popularity of these adventures.  

 

UK NEL reprint identifies the book as one from the Death Dealer series.

#6: AMBUSH AT DERATI WELLS – BT 51153, May 1977. Copyright Ralph Hayes. Kenya.

 

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#7: OPERATION HONG KONG – BT 51161, June 1977. Copyright Ralph Hayes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Edition from Ace/Stoneshire Books, London, no date. Says Tower Adventure on the spine. Sold in the United Kingdom and Australia. This edition uses the same cover as the US #9, BATTLE PAY, BT 51233.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8: BODY COUNT – BT 51172, July 1977. Copyright Ralph Hayes.  New Guinea. 

#9: BATTLE PAY – BT 51233, Feb 1978. Copyright Ralph Hayes. Set in the Caribbean.

 

 

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MAN HUNT by John Benteen - Leisure 322ZK, 1976. #17 in the Sundance series. Benteen was the pseudonym of Ben Haas, who created Jim Sundance and wrote most of the early Sundance books. Ghost writers (including Norman Rubington and George Harmon Smith) wrote a couple of them, and this one was written by Peter McCurtin.   After Ben died in 1977, Peter McCurtin took over the Sundance series and wrote more of these under his own name from 1979 to 1982.

THE CAMP by Jonathan Trask – BT 51214, 1977. Pseudonym of Peter McCurtin & Leonard Levinson.

Thanks to the research by Joe Kenney, we learn from his interview of Leonard Levinson that McCurtin wrote the first 30 pages of this adventure and had Levinson finish it. We suspect there were other such collaborations at Belmont Tower. We may never learn about all of them. This was copyrighted as Peter Thompson, another pseudonym of Peter McCurtin. My theory is that McCurtin “wrote” Marksman books using the same model. This story is set up in Maine, not far from McCurtin's home.

 

 

SUNDANCE Series 1979-1982

#26-43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sundance was a bestselling series of terrific Western action adventures created by Ben Haas. When Ben died in 1977, the Sundance series continued with 18 more books under Peter McCurtin's byline. I'm certain he wrote some of them himself, although it is always possible they might be collaborations where one of his writers finished the book. #26: THE NIGHTRIDERS is clearly a McCurtin, #29: DAY OF THE HALFBREEDS is based on the same theme as McCurtin's Lassiter book GUNFIGHT AT RINGO JUNCTION, #30: LOS OLVIDADOS is a reworking of McCurtin's Carmody book THE SLAVERS, and #31: THE MARAUDERS finds Sundance in the same unlikely position met by Lassiter in HIGH LONESOME and Carmody in THE KILLERS.  #34: APACHE WAR has an Irishman named MacCrae. #39: BUFFALO WAR is pure McCurtin with moments like “The band was bulling its way through “Lorena””.  #40: THE HUNTERS is McCurtin's version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with lines like “The four McCargo brothers were the meanest killers in the Southwest” and “Go bull yourself, Lowry.”

It also is clear McCurtin was hiring ghost writers to meet the quota.  #27, DEATH DANCE, is much too terribly written to be either McCurtin or George Harmon Smith (among other complaints, there is no death dance in the story), and #28, THE SAVAGE, is a whodunit in a totally different style. The Sundance of #35, GOLD STRIKE, never behaves like the Sundance of the earlier stories. It could well be a manuscript about someone else with Sundance's name added later. George Harmon Smith has been linked to the McCurtin Sundance books.  #33, HANGMAN'S KNOT, is set in his home stomping grounds, Fort Smith, Arkansas, and tells a tale of Hanging Judge Isaac Parker, a real life Arkansas folk hero whose name would be well known to George.  #36: TRAIL DRIVE is told in the straightforward style of George Harmon Smith, and #37: IRON MEN features a villain from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The Sundance in IRON MEN is the same ruthless Sundance from GOLD STRIKE, ready to burn a town full of innocents to get at the bad guy. He is a long way from the Sundance created by Ben Haas. In #38: DRUMFIRE, General Crook asks Sundance to escort Geronimo from a prison in Florida to his new home in Oklahoma. Their trip takes them along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans, through George Harmon Smith territory.   I'm not suggesting every Western about the Gulf Coast has to be by George, but a lot of time is spent here in small Louisiana towns.  #41: THE CAGE is about a prison “worse than the prison camps in Arkansas or Mississippi”. The writing style is that of Arkansas' own George Harmon Smith.

For a look at the complete run of McCurtin Sundances see my Sundance Checklist here :  

http://lynn-munroe-books.com/list63/Haas6.htm

For a “lost” Sundance book, see YUMA in the Russell Smith sidebar above. “An Indian in a white man's world, he killed like an outlaw, fought like a brave.”  YUMA may have been planned for the Sundance series but was not used there. Someone went through and changed the name Sundance to Yuma in the sections lifted from Sundance books.  Yuma agrees to escort Tong Foo, a Chinese cook heir to a small fortune, over the mountains to San Francisco. Along the way they encounter nefarious Reverend Patrick Archibald Dunne. The adventure fits the Sundance mold, but the decision was made to have Yuma become a separate series.

 

MINNESOTA STRIP by Peter McCurtin, BT 51333, 1979.

The first of two books about New York City private eye Pete Shay. McCurtin may have envisioned a series but Shay disappeared after two books in 1979. If you are not a New Yorker don't let the title mislead you; Minnesota Strip is about a section of 8th Avenue where the teenage hookers ply their trade. 

 

A Minnesota man hires Pete to find his missing daughter.  Pete the detective and Peter the author have much in common, for example they both like to watch old movies on TV.

LOANSHARK - BT 51437, 1979. Not to be confused with J.W. O'Dell's LOAN SHARK (1975) another book from the same publisher with the same title. This mystery finds Pete Shay solving the murder of a small-time hood named Dinty Collins. Everybody knows Fat Vinny the loanshark has had Dinty killed, but it is Fat Vinny who hires Pete to solve the crime.

 

“He'd be up to his shoulder-holster in blood and bullets before this case was finished!” 

 

 

JIM SADDLER Series

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#1: A DIRTY WAY TO DIE by Gene Curry, BT 51398, 1979.   McCurtin fans learned from David Whitehead that McCurtin had recycled four of his Carmody books into his Jim Saddler series for Tower in 1979, using the pseudonym Gene Curry.  By the 1980s a new genre called the “adult Western” became popular. (We had “adult Westerns” before but they meant something different.) The 80s and 90s “adult Westerns” were a mix of two different genres: Westerns and porn. 

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As Leisure 2966, July 1990.  Says SADDLER #1 on the spine.

 

A wizard at repackaging, McCurtin had the Jim Saddler books reprinted by Leisure in the early 1990s. After #1 the order of the books was changed.

 

A re-working of the Carmody book TOUGH BULLET with sex scenes added.

 

Carmody: “I had set out to prove I didn't kill Gertie, to get back my eleven thousand.”

Saddler: “Well sir, I had set out to prove I didn't kill old Molly and to get back my $5000.”

 

 

#2: WILDCAT WOMAN – BT 51407, 1979. Jim Saddler meets the daughter of Jesse James.

 

This is a retelling of SCREAMING ON THE WIRE, where Carmody met the son of Billy the Kid.

 

If this book was ever reprinted by Leisure like the other books in this series, I've never seen it. The other six reprints were all copyrighted for revisions. In 1994 & 1995 Leisure reprinted the other six again, in three double editions. For some reason McCurtin chose not to reprint this title.

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#3: COLORADO CROSSING – BT 51418, 1979.  A re-write of the Carmody HANGTOWN.

 

This is from the TWENTIETH CENTURY WESTERN WRITERS McCurtin article by R. Jeff Banks: “Tight plotting, as much a watchword in the Hard-boiled Detective stories which were McCurtin's model as it has ever been in the western, gives these books another advantage over the run-of-the-mill Adult Western.”

 

As SADDLER #2 - Leisure 2988, Aug 1990.

 

The 1990s Saddlers are copyrighted for “New matter: revisions”. Those changes usually involve the sex scenes, which are more graphic in the Leisure versions.

 

#4: HOT AS A PISTOL – BT 51552, 1980.

 

This is a recycled version of the Carmody book THE KILLERS.

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As SADDLER #3 – Leisure 3037, Dec 1990.

 

Saddler gets a job as a temporary marshal just like Lassiter did in both HIGH LONESOME and FUNERAL BEND, and Sundance did in THE MARAUDERS.

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#5: WILD, WILD WOMEN – Tower 51598, 1980.  Saddler takes a wagon train of women from Missouri to California.

 

“I didn't know his name till I was ready to kill him. Bullwhip Danner is what he went by, and I still have the feeling that he had fashioned that handle for himself, because it's hard to believe that any mother took her baby to church and asked the reverend to sprinkle water and intone such a name... This ring-tailed varmint was doing his damnedest to kill me””

As SADDLER #4 – Leisure 3099, Apr 1991.

 

“Danner's bullwhip cracked again and caught my gun… Blood came on top of the pain, and I backed away with blood dripping from my hand, the whip snaking and snapping at my face. Then the drummer yelled and threw me a short-barreled double-action .38… I caught it with my left hand and gave Danner four of the five small-caliber pills in the chamber. You never saw a man more surprised, as all four bullets got him in the chest. Still holding the whip handle, he keeled over and died before he hit the floor.”

 

 

#6: ACE IN THE HOLE – Tower 51660, 1981.  Saddler in Wyoming with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.

 

Jim Saddler of Jonesboro, Texas is visiting a Jackson Hole brothel when he makes the mistake of playing their piano. Butch Cassidy comes in and asks him to play “The Cowboy's Lament”. Soon Saddler is all tangled up with Butch and his gang and Etta Place. But then Tom Horn arrives, gunning for Butch Cassity.

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As SADDLER #5 – Leisure 3127, June 1991.

 

The cover image of Saddler holding a whiskey bottle in a bathtub while being cleaned up by a friendly lady is an homage to an iconic moment from Sam Peckinpah's classic THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

 

 

#7: YUKON RIDE – Tower 51734, 1981. Saddler in Alaska. The naked blonde on the cover alerts readers that this is not their father's Western, this is “An Adult Western”.

 

Saddler is hired to go deep into the frozen Yukon territory to bring out the corpse of Judge Phineas Slocum and deliver it to San Francisco.  

 

One character's name is McClure.

As SADDLER #6 – Leisure 3167, Sept 1991.

 

Great news for Saddler fans: Piccadilly Publishing has announced they will bring out e-book editions of the series.

 

It is of some interest to compare the two editions to note the revisions copyrighted in 1991. The 1981 version was already “adult”, the 1991 is just more adult. For example, a one-page sex scene is rewritten as a three-page sex scene with plenty of blow-by-blow description. There are no changes to the plot.

 

THE EXTERMINATOR – Based on a screenplay by James Glickenhaus, Manor Books 23320, 1980. Movie tie-in. Although the front and back covers do not mention his name, the spine and title page identify the author of this screenplay novelization as Peter McCurtin. As a freelance writer McCurtin could write for other publishers, but this is the only one of his last twenty novels not published by Tower or Leisure. The editors at Manor, Joanmarie Kalter & John S. Littell, had both worked with McCurtin at Tower. The book is a straight novelization with no flourishes, the plot is about a lone veteran who stands up against a city full of criminals described here as “gangsters, pimps and weirdos.”

MURDER IN THE PENTHOUSE by Award Winning Author Peter McCurtin, Tower 51645, 1980. Preface by George Carpozi Jr.  True Crime. The cover tells us McCurtin wrote this “working with material documented and reviewed by Carpozi.”

 

ROCKWELL – Leisure, 1140, 1982. One of McCurtin's best books, ROCKWELL is a novel about a real person, Utah lawman Porter Rockwell. John Carradine played him in the movie BRIGHAM YOUNG.

 

In 2014 ROCKWELL appeared as a Piccadilly Press Double in a kindle edition with THE BANDIT OF HELL'S BEND by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

SUMMER FRIENDS – Leisure 1167, 1983.  Copyright Peter McCurtin.

 

 

Second SOLDIER OF FORTUNE Series 1984-85

 

Six years after the ninth Soldier of Fortune book appeared to end that series, Peter McCurtin brought it back with a new set of novels about mercenary Jim Rainey. Looking at the long lists achieved by other men's adventure military series, McCurtin planned big things for his series. But they were not to be.

 

Paul Hofrichter told me the story: “Peter always started on top and he wrote the first books for this series. But he was an alcoholic, and he could not always finish assignments himself. In this case he developed gout and was unable to write anymore of them. The call was made to some of his old writers, and ten years after my Marksman and Sharpshooter books, I wrote SOMALI SMASHOUT for Peter. I would have loved to have written more of them, but the sales were dropping, and the publisher canceled the series. There was one more book by another writer.”

 

The last of the series, BLOOD ISLAND, was copyrighted by another old friend, Ralph Hayes. And so, a decade after they had worked for the editor McCurtin, Hofrichter and Hayes came back one last time as ghost writers for the author McCurtin.

 

YELLOW RAIN – Leisure 2089, Mar 1984. Copyright Peter McCurtin. Jim Rainey in Afghanistan.

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GREEN HELL – Leisure 2107, May 1984. Jim Rainey in Northern Ireland. No copyright found.

 

 

MORO – Leisure 2124, July 1984. Not copyrighted. Philippines.

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KALAHARI – Leisure 2144, Sept 1984.  No copyright. South Africa.

 

 

 

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Leisure 2169, Nov 1984.  Copyright Peter McCurtin. Vietnam.

DEATH SQUAD – Leisure 2190, Jan 1985. Copyright Peter McCurtin. Nicaragua.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOODBATH – Leisure 2212, Mar 1985. No copyright. Jim Rainey in Hawaii.

SOMALI SMASHOUT – Leisure 2240, June 1985. Copyright Paul Hofrichter. Jim Rainey in Somalia.

 

BLOOD ISLAND – Leisure 2261, Aug 1985. Copyright Ralph Hayes. Jim Rainey in Western Samoa.

 

Ralph Hayes told me he got a call from Leisure editor Jane Thornton in 1985. They needed a new Soldier of Fortune book. Hayes had written several in the first series and he was the ghostwriter using the house name Peter McCurtin on BLOOD ISLAND.

BUCKSKIN #14: LEVER ACTION by Kit Dalton – Leisure 2420, Nov 1986. House name used here by Peter McCurtin. The Buckskin series was started by Mitchell Smith writing as Roy LeBeau. When Smith left after #12, the house name Kit Dalton was invented for the rest of the series. Lawrence Cerri wrote #13 and Peter McCurtin wrote this one. The copyright application says: “Roy LeBeau, Kit Dalton (pseud. of Peter McCurtin”, so McCurtin may have been finishing a manuscript started by Mitchell Smith. David Keller wrote #15 and Dean McElwain wrote #16 thru 21.

 

 

Writing as (and with) Mary Carr

 

I noticed the name Mary Carr on the copyright records for the Gatling and Buckskin series. When I asked John Littell if that name was another Peter McCurtin pseudonym, he told me that Mary Carr was Peter's second wife.

Now 84, Mary Carr McCurtin lives in New York City. She did not write any books published under her own name, but worked with Peter on the Buckskin and Gatling series. Mary Carr and Peter McCurtin are two of the names on the list of a group of writers who used the house name Kit Dalton for the Buckskin series.

But for the Gatling series, Peter used an old familiar house name, Jack Slade. Peter McCurtin first wrote as Jack Slade with 1969's Lassiter book HIGH LONESOME. He brought the name back for the Gatling series and used it one last time on the Garrity books in the summer of 1993. 

In 1989 Leisure started a new series, GATLING. John Gatling is an armorer who works for Col. Pritchett of the Maxim Gun Company. An orphan, Gatling was raised by the Zuni Indians and used to work for the Gatling Gun Company (no relation). It is immediately apparent that Peter McCurtin is the author behind the house name Jack Slade.

 

At first it seems a little odd that his name is Gatling but he works for Maxim. McCurtin makes light of it all in the books. In one of them Pritchett tells Gatling the only reason the Gatling Gun Company had previously employed him was because they were afraid he might be the illegitimate offspring of the Gatling founder. It's a joke, we know McCurtin wanted an authentic and appropriate weaponry-related name for his hero, something like Cannon or Colt or Hammer. We prefer to have our heroes with tough, manly-sounding names like Sgt. Rock or Peter Gunn.  

 

 

GATLING #1: ZUNI GOLD by Jack Slade, Leisure 2750, May 1989

The first four Gatling books were not copyrighted. All of them are written in the familiar easy-to-read McCurtin style.

 

In ZUNI GOLD, Col. Pritchett sends Gatling to New Mexico to help the Zuni people, who are being slaughtered by Jicarilla Apaches working for the evil Copper Trust. Gatling displays a different weapon on each cover, this time it is a Maxim Light Machine Gun.

Character named McClardy.

GATLING #2: OUTLAW EMPIRE – Leisure 2751, May 1989.

 

After 30 years in a Louisiana prison, Wilson Murrill is out with one plan in mind: to organize crime in the Western U.S.  He is of course ahead of his time, organized crime was not cooked up until the 20th century. But Murrill tries, enlisting the Australian gang the Sydney Ducks in San Francisco, the Italian Black Hand in New Orleans, and every Irish thug and Mexican bandit in California. Only one man can stop this onslaught – “the single most dangerous man in the West”, the man armed with the latest automatic weapons. The man called Gatling.

 

GATLING #3: BORDER WAR – Leisure 2807, July 1989. Gatling delivers weapons to the metis people in their revolt against the Canadian government. He meets the real-life figures Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. This is all based on the same historic events in SUNDANCE: DAY OF THE HALFBREEDS and LASSITER: GUNFIGHT AT RINGO JUNCTION. It is not the same book as either of those, it is a new story based around the same events. It is unmistakably the work of the author of those two books, Peter McCurtin. He was fascinated by the revolt and wrote at least three books about it.  

GATLING #4: SOUTH OF THE BORDER – Leisure 2846, Sept 1989.

 

Gatling is sent to Panama to deliver new automatic weapons to the American expedition to build the Panama Canal. Rebel revolutionaries intercept him. .

 

 

GATLING #5: THE WAR WAGON – Leisure 2873, Dec 1989. Copyright Mary Carr.

 

Gatling in Mexico. Rebels have hijacked a shipment of rifles and ammunition, and Gatling is sent to get it back. He uses the Maxim Motor War Car shown on the cover.

Gatling's employer Hiram Maxim was a real person in history. He was born in Maine (a fact McCurtin likes to mention) but he moved to the United Kingdom at age 41 and lived there the rest of his life.

GATLING #6: BUTTE BLOODBATH – Leisure 2912, Mar 1990. Copyright Mary Carr.

 

Gatling in Montana in the middle of a fight between mine owners and the fanatical Irish-born leader of the Western Labor League, Michael Patrick Kane.

 

When in New York City Gatling does all his drinking at McSorley's on East 7th Street, a real-life Irish tavern that is now the oldest in Manhattan. Gatling drank there, I know Cornell Woolrich was a regular, I suspect McCurtin drank there, and now you can too.

 

BUCKSKIN #34: TRICK SHOOTER by Kit Dalton, Leisure 3360, Nov 1992. Copyright Mary Carr.

 

 

Buckskin Lee Morgan joins a Wild West Show to help an old friend. He tangles with Kitty, a redheaded sharpshooter. This one is pretty terrible. The formula shows through: hardcore porn, then a little story, more porn, story, hardcore porn finish.

RAPID FIRE by Jack Slade, Leisure 3488, Aug 1993. No copyright.  When Garrity reports to work for Col. Pritchett of the Maxim Gun Company and we are told he was raised by the Zuni, we realize that Garrity is Gatling renamed. Apparently when Leisure killed the Gatling series in 1990. McCurtin still had a couple manuscripts ready to go. So he waited a while and sold them as new Garrity stories. He changed the emphasis away from the weaponry and sold Garrity as a hired gun. But it's clearly a Gatling adventure as Maxim sends Garrity to Brazil to retrieve some weapons stolen by a hotheaded ex-Confederate General itching to go back to war. 

TEXAS RENEGADE by Jack Slade, Leisure 3495, Sept 1993. Copyright Peter McCurtin. Finding McCurtin's name on the copyright application for the second Garrity book made me take a hard look at the first book, RAPID FIRE, and both of them are written in McCurtin's distinctive hard-bitten style.

 

Garrity is sent to Texas to aid a Scottish cattle rancher who is being terrorized by both the Ku Klux Klan and a group of labor thugs.

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BUCKSKIN #nn: MUZZLE BLAST by Kit Dalton, Leisure 3564, January 1994. Copyright Peter McCurtin. Most of the later Buckskin books from #22 on were written by Chet Cunningham, except for two by Mary Carr (#34 & #42) and #40 by Peter McCurtin.  In addition to the numbered series they published ten unnumbered Giant Special Editions like this. Eight of the Giants are by Curt Cunningham, BAWDY HOUSE (shown below) was ghosted by Mary Carr and this book, MUZZLE BLAST, was copyrighted by Peter McCurtin.

 

Buckskin Lee Morgan rides into Niles City looking for a cold Pearl Beer. He takes a job driving horses for a lady rancher, “a wild filly”.

 

 

BUCKSKIN #40: SIX-GUN KILL by Kit Dalton, Leisure 3637, July 1994. Copyright Peter McCurtin.

 

This is the final book found with Peter McCurtin's name on the copyright application. As an editor at Tower he had overseen countless series entries. He ended his career writing these for another editor.

I find it ironic this is McCurtin's last copyright because the only thing I'm sure of about this book is that Peter McCurtin did not write it. His style was distinct and this is all told in a different style.

BUCKSKIN #nn: BAWDY HOUSE-Leisure 3657, Sept 1994, Copyright Mary Carr. A good example of Mary's free-wheeling style. A rich department store owner has a secret. His wife used to work in a brothel. She has run off to San Francisco and, he fears, gone back to her wayward ways. He hires Morgan to find her. Morgan has somehow morphed from a horse rancher to a private detective here.  Morgan has to visit and sample every hooker on the Barbary Coast to find her.

 

One of ten unnumbered Buckskin Giant Special Editions. These are two to three times longer than the numbered Buckskins.

 

 

BUCKSKIN #42: MORGAN'S SQUAW by Kit Dalton, Leisure 3821, July 1995. Copyright Mary Carr.

 

Morgan is back home in Idaho on his horse ranch when an old friend enlists him to help fight the Idaho Party, a group of swindlers dressing up as Indians to massacre settlers. This is the last of the Buckskin books. Not sure what the title can mean. Morgan humps every woman he meets and one of them is a squaw, but she is such an unimportant minor character we never even learn her name.

THIRST by Pyotyr Kurtinski, Leisure 3826, Aug 1995. Copyright Mary Carr. Pseudonym of Peter McCurtin.  

 

 

Apparently twenty years passed before anyone noticed the name Pyotyr Kurtinski was Peter McCurtin gone Slavic. The only book under this byline, this vampire horror thriller was Peter McCurtin's final book.

 

 

 

Mary Carr told me that Peter died quite suddenly in his sleep one night in January 1997. He was 68

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Lynn Munroe Books