Friday, June 05, 2015

Forgotten Books: The Iron Horse - William Grant (James Reasoner)


Today is my birthday, so I thought I'd write about one of my own books for a change. It's certainly forgotten, being the first book in a short-lived series from a publisher that's long since defunct. THE IRON HORSE launched the Faraday series, which was packaged by Book Creations Inc. and created by one of my editors there, Paul Block. The publisher was Lynx Books. The concept was that the stories would center around railroad detectives who worked for an agency headed up by Matthew Faraday, who in my mind always looked like Randolph Scott, although on this cover he looks more like Ted Knight from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. These agents would be the actual heroes of the books, with Faraday serving more as a mentor and supervisor.

I remember very little about the plot of this one. It had something to do with some villains sabotaging the construction of a railroad. The hero looked like Audie Murphy, at least in my head. There was an old scout/buffalo hunter who wasn't old enough and whiskery enough to be a Gabby Hayes character. More like Ben Johnson. There was a lot of ridin' and shootin', a little romance, and the good guys won in the end. What can I say? It was more than 25 years ago, and I've written a lot of books since then. I recall that I enjoyed the book and thought it turned out pretty well. There are cheap copies available on-line if you want to judge for yourself.

THE IRON HORSE is the only Faraday novel I wrote. Paul Block, who was a writer as well as an editor for BCI, wrote the second one. Robert Vaughan wrote a couple, as did Bill Crider. Only one of Bill's was published, since Lynx Books collapsed unexpectedly. I've heard that Chet Cunningham also wrote one that went unpublished, but I don't know if that's true. The business was a lot different in those days, but it was fun, too.

23 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Happy Birthday, James!

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Happy Birthday.

I read Bill's book, THE COLORADO SPECIAL, about a murder among a trainload of actors on a theater tour of Colorado. I don't remember any details but I know I enjoyed it. I'll have to look for yours.

Jeff M.

Bill Crider said...

Happy birthday, James, you young whippersnapper. Thanks for reminding me of the Faraday series. I don't remember much about THE COLORADO SPECIAL, but I do remember that it was fun to write it. Jeff remembers more about it than I do!

James Reasoner said...

Bill, weren't there rumors at BCI that your second Faraday novel, THE AVALANCHE EXPRESS, was printed by Lynx but never distributed because the company collapsed while the book was still in the warehouses? That would be a real find, to come across a copy of that one.

Rick said...

When I read the title I thought it was a tie-in with the television show Iron Horse with Dale Robertson. It sounds like a fun read. I'll check the few used book stores left for a copy. Thanks for all those years of filling the world with your stories. I hope you have a good Birthday and many more.

James Reasoner said...

I'm pretty sure there was a tie-in novel based on the Dale Robertson TV series, which I remember watching when it was new. I think the book was by William Johnston, who did so many tie-in novels back in the Sixties and Seventies.

Dan_Luft said...

Happy Birthday.
What usually happened to a book that wasn't published when a company went under? Did you shelve it or rewrite it for a different series?

Charles Gramlich said...

Very cool. So what happens to a book written for such a company that is unpublished because of some glitch? Does it get repurposed for another line?

Keith West said...

Happy birthday. This sounds like it would have been a fun series.

James Reasoner said...

I've never had that happen with a novel of mine, but if it did I'd probably try to turn it into something else. I sold a novella to an anthology that never came out, and if I still had a copy I'd publish it myself (it would work as a stand-alone), but that's one of the manuscripts that was lost in the fire back in '08. On several occasions I've written an outline for a book in one series only to wind up using it for a book in another series.

I think if Bill still had his Faraday book, he could publish it himself.

John Hegenberger said...

John Ford would have liked the title. Happy B-day!

Todd Mason said...

I'll suggest that cover makes the Old Man look a bit more like Sam Elliott than Ted Knight, but it's a pity Lynx fell apart so abruptly...I recall theirs were a more professional-looking set of releases than, say, Paperjacks.

And another feliz cumpleanos, here on your blog...

James Reasoner said...

Paperjacks was a pretty low-budget outfit, all right, but they published some good books while they were around. I liked the Westerns Bob Randisi wrote for them.

R.K. Robinson said...

Happy birthday (or celebration of the date of your birth) or whatever. Have a good time.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Happy Birthday, Mr. Reasoner! I like the old-fashioned cover of the book; the kind I'd like to read.

Mel Odom said...

Happy Birthday!

Jerry House said...


Happy birthday, James! Your book and Bill's were the only two I read in that series. I enjoyed them both.

George Kelley said...

Happy Birthday! I don't think Lynx Books ever showed up in Western NY. I've never seen a copy. But this series sounds like fun!

Todd Mason said...

And Paperjacks had more Pronzini novels in print at one time than any other bound-pages publisher, I think...but a real pity, the quality of the layout and all the cost-cutting.

Bill Crider said...

James, that was the rumor, all right. I can't remember who started it. One of the editors at BCI wanted me to rewrite the book as a YA novel, and I did three chapters of it. I never heard anything else from them about it, however.

Ed Gorman said...

"The business was a lot different in those days, but it was fun, too." Amen, brother.

Ed Gorman said...

Happy Birthday, mt friend. In twenty years you'll be as old as I am. :)

R.T. said...

Happy Birthday! As a very small birthday gift from me to you, I make you a promise: I will find a copy of your book to read!

BTW, Crimes in the Library has been reactivated, and I invite you -- and you legions of followers -- to visit and comment every now and then.

http://crimesinthelibrary.blogspot.com/