‘Benedict & Brazos’ Book Review By Ron Fortier

Benedict and Brozos Book Review By Ron Fortier

BENEDICT & BRAZOS
# 1 Aces Wild
By E. Jefferson Clay
Bold Venture Press

Writer Paul Wheelahan was born in 1930 in Bombala, New South Wales Australia the son of a mounted policeman. He grew up in the Great Depression and in 1947 moved to Sydney, to work for his idol, comic creator Stan Pitt. At first, Pitt employed him as an inker and eventually, Wheelahan moved to do covers. Ultimately he would write and produce short fillers for American outfits such as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and his own creations like the sci-fi hero Space Hawk.

When original Australian comics work dried out in 1963, Wheelahan turned to writing western novels writing more than 500 novels under various pseudonyms to include the Benedict & Brazos series as E. Jefferson Clay. These fast-paced, action-heavy books follow the adventures of two colorful Civil War veterans.

Nearing the end of the war, Confederate Sgt. Hank Brazos and his unit are ordered to guard a shipment of gold valued at over $200,000 dollars and transport it to New Mexico and Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest so that he may use it to fund a second Confederacy. As luck would have it, Brazos’ company encounters a Yankee patrol led by Captain Duke Benedict and a bloody battle ensues in which most of the combatants are slain. At which point a third force arrives on the scene led by mercenary outlaw raider, Bo Rangle. Forced to join forces, Benedict and Brazos, put up a valiant effort but in the end, Rangle and his men succeed and ride off with the loot. Benedict and Brazos shake hands and go their separate ways believing they will never see each other again.

Less than a year after Appomattox, the two cross paths in the sleepy little Kansas town of Daybreak. Things are hopping in Daybreak, what with a new two-story brick bordello going up much to the chagrin of the local Christian Ladies Auxiliary and a trio of outlaws has begun operating in the nearby valley. Before long, and after a few knuckle-busting dust-ups and shoot-outs, Brazos begins to suspect Benedict has stumbled on to a clue as to the whereabouts of Bo Rangle and the missing gold shipment. To that end, he makes it a point of becoming the Yank’s shadow, having his own personal interest in recovering the lost treasure.

Like most non-American writers of pulp westerns, Wheelahan’s prose is purple as a summer twilight, rife with twangy cowboy slang, larger-than-life characters bordering on the cartoonish and yet still managing to deliver solid adult action. The pacing is as fast as a longhorn stampede from the first page to last. Now, this rip-roaring series is available to American pulp fans via Piccadilly Publishing’s association with Bold Venture, for which we can only say, “Thanks, Pilgrim.” 

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