Saturday, August 6, 2016

White Mercenary by Peter Saxon


This post is updated 8-8-16 with special thanks to Keith Chapman.

This August, 1962 Sexton Blake adventure features cover art by Henry Fox. According to Keith Chapman, "White Mercenary was written by veteran genre fiction writer Sydney J. Bounds. For better or worse. It was put through the Baker/G. P. Mann "rewrite" process, then published under the "Peter Saxon" house-name byline. You can read more about the highly competent and experienced Syd in the articles "Detectives in Cowboy Boots" and "Farewell to a Small Giant"(www.blackhorsewesterns.com/bhe5)."

This is Sexton Blake as I encountered him in the American paperbacks credited to W. A. Ballinger; a tough yet somewhat cerebral man-of action. This time, Blake is solicited by an old friend to prevent the assassination of a political leader in the African Congo nation of Katenga. With only seventy-two hours before the assassination will take place, Blake and his assistant, Tinker, are thrown into a maelstrom of red herrings and conflicting motivations. Among these diversions are a shapely lass named Crystal, and a blonde named Angela De Villiers who keeps Splash Kirby, special correspondent to London’s Daily Post, and long-time friend of investigator Sexton Blake, occupied with their considerable feminine charms. Meanwhile, Simon Trois, a mysterious player in Katenga politics, shows up, and soon Blake, Tinker and Kirby are trying to unravel a complicated relationship that not only involves Trois, but Katenga president Tshombe. White Mercenary runs at a fast pace, with short chapters (seventeen total chapters) and most of the action taking place near the conclusion. Peripheral characters flit in and out as the plot dictates. Being a fan of W. Howard Baker and others who wrote under the Peter Saxon pseudonym, not to mention the Sexton Blake stories in the late 1950s and through the late 1960s, I enjoyed White Mercenary. The writing is strong, the tension level is consistent, and it all wraps up as you might expect. For collector’s this is Sexton Blake # 505.

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