Friday, July 20, 2012

Forgotten Books: A Task for Zorro by Johnston McCulley

Did you know that Georges Simenon was actually one of the many pen names of Zorro author Johnston McCulley? Well, neither did anyone else, because it's a lie. But it's my tip of the fedora to the Forgotten Books Simenon Spectacular. That's HERE.

"A Task for Zorro" first appeared in the June 1947 issue of West, and was reprinted only twice, first in a squinty-eyed little Hanos edition, and then in this third volume of the ill-fated Pulp Adventures series, ZORRO - THE MASTERS EDITION, published in 2002. I'm guessing the series had successively shorter print runs, because decent copies of Volume 1 can still be found in the fifty-dollar range, Volume 2 commands at least twice that amount, and A Task for Zorro is unavailable anywhere - at any price.

That's the bad news. The good news is that this novel, along with the McCulley's other four Zorro novels and all 59 shorter adventures, will soon be all soon be available - in limited hardcover editions - from German publisher Classic Heroes. You'll find more details about that HERE, and the official Classic Heroes site HERE.

In A Task for Zorro, Diego is asked by his friend Fray Felipe, one of the few folks who knows about his alter ego, to help stop a well-organized gang that's stealing cattle belonging to the Franciscan mission. At the same time, an Americano arrives in Los Angeles, a buckskin-clad cowboy who says he wants to study the Spanish methods of cattle ranching. And if that weren't enough to make Diego keep an eye on him, the cowboy also plans to capture the outlaw Zorro and claim the fabulous reward offered by the governor.

Is the cowboy really a crook? Will he succeed in catching Zorro? I'm not telling. But I'm mighty glad that you, and a lot of other folks, will have the opportunity to find out - thanks to Classic Heroes.

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