Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Jerry Cotton

A conversation on the WesternPulps list with Juri Nummelin strayed onto the topic of the Jerry Cotton books, a long-running series of mystery novels published in Germany. Written by a stable of anonymous authors, the books were published under the house-name Jerry Cotton, and that's the name of the lead character as well. Cotton is a U.S. federal agent, a fairly standard wise-cracking tough guy. In 1965 one of the novels was published in an English translation by Three Star Books, a small Chicago paperback house, under the title IN THE LION'S DEN. I've had a copy of this book on my shelves for years, so today I read it. The cover refers to Jerry Cotton as the German James Bond, but there's no James Bond feel to this book at all. Instead, it reads more like a very minor Gold Medal novel, with Cotton working undercover to clean up the corruption in a small Southern city. He gets shot at, beaten up, nearly run over by a gravel truck, almost blown up with dynamite, etc., and has one romantic interlude with a beautiful blonde who may or may not be working for the bad guys. It's all told in the usual breezy, hardboiled style, and while the writing is pretty mediocre most of the time, there are some nice scenes here and there. All in all, a slightly better book than I expected.

I looked through the serials I own and settled on THE MYSTERY SQUADRON to watch next. This is a 1933 Mascot serial starring Bob Steele. "12 Mystifying Chapters of Zooming Adventure!" according to the box. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I always enjoy your comments on what you're reading. Mention of Jerry Cotton made me smile. That Three Star reprint, by the way, was the (as far as I know) only "mainstream" (i.e., not "spicy") title published by Merit Books, most famous for their Ennis Willie titles which have lately been much-discussed over at Ed's Place. I spent eighteen months in Germany, courtesy of Uncle Sam, in the mid-60's, and German editions of Jerry Cotton were prominent in every bookstore and newstand. He was the German Nick Carter/Mack Bolan of his day. And yeah, I read that one translation like 40 yrs. ago and for some reason, I still remember the bad guys trying to run him over with the gravel truck. I wonder if Herr Cotton is still around...

--Steve Mertz