Friday, July 08, 2011

Forgotten Books: Slocum and the Invaders - Jake Logan

I looked for this book for years. Literally.


Let me explain. Several years ago, a friend of mine who has written a lot of these Jake Logan books told me about this one, which was written by a mutual friend of ours. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d look for it. It had been out of print for a number of years, even then, but the local Half Price Books has a bunch of Slocum novels, so I figured I’d pick up a copy the next time I was there. But when I looked, Half Price didn’t have it. Neither did the next Half Price I checked, or the one after that, or the one after that . . .


Back in the pre-Internet days, I used to carry around lists of books I was looking for, so I could check for them every time I was in a used bookstore. I’ll bet a lot of you did, too. It was fun. So even though I could have ordered a copy of SLOCUM AND THE INVADERS any time I wanted to (there are numerous copies listed on ABE, most of them very inexpensive), I decided that I was going to find this book by remembering to look for it in used bookstores, just like I used to. So for years now, every time I saw some Jake Logan novels in a store, I checked to see if SLOCUM AND THE INVADERS was there. Surprisingly, it never was. Until this week. I looked, and there it was, and I got the same kind of kick I used to whenever I’d chance across a long-sought-after book.


So now I’ve read it at last, and luckily, it’s good. John Slocum, for those of you unfamiliar with the character, is a drifting gunfighter and occasional outlaw in the Old West who’s been having almost monthly adventures since 1975, when the series debuted from the long-defunct Playboy Paperbacks. (It moved to Berkley Books after 49 novels from Playboy Paperbacks.) Many, many different authors have written Slocum novels under the Jake Logan house-name, including some you might not expect, such as famous mystery novelist Martin Cruz Smith. I’ve even written one of the books myself, SLOCUM AND THE TEXAS ROSE.


SLOCUM AND THE INVADERS find Slocum in Arizona Territory, where he encounters an eccentric astronomer (mistaking the man’s tripod-mounted telescope for a rifle at first) and the astronomer’s requisite beautiful female assistant (these are Adult Westerns, after all). Unfortunately, Slocum is on the run from a gang of vicious killers at the moment, and as he spends more time with his new friends, he discovers an unexpected connection between them and the bad guys who are already after him. There are also some renegade Indians in the vicinity to further complicate things.


This is a pretty standard Adult Western set-up, but then SLOCUM AND THE INVADERS takes an unexpected, jaw-dropping turn that places it firmly in the realm of “like no Adult Western you’ve ever read before”. I’ve read hundreds of these books from various series (and written about 75 of them myself), and the plot twist in this one is certainly one I’ve never encountered anywhere else. And it works, beautifully, in fact. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything more about it without ruining things for those of you who might read the book someday.


So my long search was rewarded at last, and there are some other old books I’ve decided I’m going to look for in the same way. I have a couple of lists, scribbled on a piece of paper that’s now folded up and stuck in my wallet for the next time I visit a used bookstore. And it feels good.

23 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Yep. I use to carry a list of books I wanted to buy around to stores. Almost forgot that. Happy to hear you found this one.

Dan_Luft said...

I forgot about my list too. The first time I left the country, a trip to England, I even came up with a list of books I thought were in print there but not here in America. Mostly it was a bust but I did get half a dozen cheap Richard Stark Parker novels long before they were available again in the U.S.

Gerard Saylor said...

With a teaser like that I have to read the book. Good thing several libraries in the state have it.

Who penned this one?

James Reasoner said...

I suspect that the guy who wrote this one wouldn't mind if his name was revealed, but I don't know that for sure so I'll err on the side of discretion. He's written a few Westerns under his own name but is best known for his work in other genres.

Randy Johnson said...

Mine was a composition book with complete lists of all the writers i was interested in. When I found One on the list, I would put a star after it, one before it when I red it.

Still have that notebook, though these days I use it when searching on the internet.

Keith said...

I still keep a list with me for when I go to book stores (used or otherwise), which is every chance I get. I've found that shipping charges sometimes make the books more expensive than a store bought copy. If it's not something I'm in a hurry to read, I'll wait and enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Only now my list is on my Blackberry.

John said...

I go to book sales all the time and there are still plenty of people who carry lists. Sometimes I see older men and women with typewritten stapled manuscripts, worn and battered and torn after many years of flipping the pages and carrying from place to place. Not everyone resorts to computers and the internet. Amazing, but true. And I agfee with Keith about shipping fees. I'm beginning to avoid all the usual UK sellers I enjoyed dealing with because our American dollar frankly sucks the big one in terms of currency conversion. And not jsut in the UK but everywhere!

Charles Gramlich said...

Yep, used to carry such a list my own self. It's cool to mark one as found.

Steve M said...

This is one of about 100 Slocum books I don't have and it's now moved to the top of the Slocum wants list.

I, too, have various lists.

Walker Martin said...

Prior to the internet, I used to carry lists that I couldn't even fit in my pockets. Now thanks to ebay and abebooks.com, I have practically no wants except for the rare pulp magazines. You can find practically anything on the internet.

I do have a long time friend that still carries lists, so many that he needs a carton to hold the loose leaf binders, etc. Over the years he has made so many mistakes checking off wants, that he has duplicates of many items. Two or three times at Pulpcon I've come across his misplaced and lost binders and taken them home to NJ and returned them. Fortunately he lives only 20 minutes from my home.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I have been carrying two definitive lists around for more than a decade—P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. I recently added a third one: Mack Bolan and Phoenix Force. A fourth list contains assorted titles by equally assorted authors. It's been fun. I have read a few Jake Logans and only recently bought "Slocum and the Circle Z Riders" #293 but haven't got down to reading it yet. "Slocum and the Invaders" is next on my list provided I find one.

Gerard said...

Not too long ago I saw a few Mack Bolan titles in a thrift store. I stopped following the series years ago and left them.

Cap'n Bob said...

I carry a list today of your Longarms. I'll add the two Slocums you mentioned. Thanks.

George said...

Ah, the joy of finding a book you've been searching for for a long time! It's pretty close to ecstasy depending on the book.

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

Let me guess, the twist involved space aliens? The setting, 'invaders' in the title etc ..

JT Edson did have one that had a martian in it.

Mike Cleary said...

Now I'll have to add Slocums to my own list I carry to the used bookstores!

Matthew P. Mayo said...

I recently read SLOCUM AND THE TEXAS ROSE and it's one of the best Slocums I've read. It's a ripping novel and I recommend it highly.

And I still carry a wallet-worn list--lots of ERB....

Harp of Hyperion said...

James:

The good news is that your book "Slocum and the Texas Rose" is available online at the Kobo store (for those of us who can't afford the expensive Kindles).

Bad news is the "Slocum and the Invaders" isn't.

Oh well! Gives me reason to go to my local used book store.

(Any other Slocums you would particularly recommend?)

James Reasoner said...

One of my favorite Slocums is an early one called DEAD MAN'S HAND (about Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, naturally). It was written by Donald McCaig, who went on to write NOP'S TRIALS, RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE, and numerous other books under his own name. Some other good ones are NORTH TO DAKOTA (by Martin Cruz Smith), and SLOCUM AND THE BEAR LAKE MONSTER and SLOCUM AND THE WOLF HUNT (both by the guy who recommended SLOCUM AND THE INVADERS to me).

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

@harp of hyperion - google for "kindle for pc", you can download kindle readers for PC, mac, ipad, blackberry etc so you don't need to buy a separate kindle device.

I read my kindle books on either my laptop or my ipad.

Harp of Hyperion said...

Suresh: Don't have a Kindle, and reading at length on a computer monitor tires my eyes. I have a Ectaco Jetbook Reader and a Kobo ereader. Don't have a mac, IPad or blackberry.

Do you know if there is software to convert from .azw format to .epub?

James: OK ... I'm already about 1/3 of the way through "Slocum and the Texas Rose". You have, once again, *hooked* me -- planted mysteries and questions ( i.e. "what was she doing alone in the wild, with someone *else's* infant?") that keep me reading along. Moreover, I love how even subsidiary characters are given distinctive, relate-able traits as well.

Given how both this novel and your latest Longarm seem to be stories of investigation and pursuit, I have to wonder: have you ever written any straight-up private eye yarns?

James Reasoner said...

My first novel TEXAS WIND (now available for the Kindle -- shameless plug) is a private eye novel set in Fort Worth. I've also written half a dozen short stories featuring Cody, the private eye from that novel. I'm sure I'll have them available in an e-book collection one of these days, maybe by the end of the year.

Mark Fitzgerald said...

I have read at least 200 or more of the Slocum series and they are my favorite western of all. Thanks to all of you western writers, keep them coming.