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J.T. EDSON & PETER CLAWSON
Blonde Genius


click to enlarge

Corgi, London, 1973
(price: 30p; 176 pages)


The blurb on the back:

Benkinsop’s Academy for the Daughters of Gentlefolk prided itself that any girl coming from its hallowed portals was a valuable and talented member of society – underground society that is. For although the Prospectus included Wise Shopping, Household Hints and Folk Dancing classes, had you investigated behind the basement doors and red warning lights, you would have found girls practising the gentle arts of shoplifting, safe-cracking and striptease.
But the Academy was in deadly peril from a rival organization. As the Champion of the Lower Grebe Approved School for Girls held the drugged Head Girl of Benkinsop’s in a strangle-hold during the Inter-Schools ‘Debate’, a member of the Mediterranean Syndicate was lifting the contents of the Head’s safe containing ancestral diamonds and £10,000 ‘Petty Cash’…


opening lines:
Sitting in the passenger seat of the maroon E-type Jaguar, listening to the flow of conversation emanating from the walkie-talkie in his right hand, Gus Saunders mopped the sweat from his brow.


JT Edson, of course, was pretty much the ultimate British pulp writer, producing hundreds of books. Since, however, these were almost exclusively Westerns, they don’t turn up on my site, ‘cos I have no interest in Westerns; nothing personal, just don’t do anything for me.

This, on the other hand, is most certainly not a Western, and is – I believe – something of a Holy Graal amongst Edson collectors. It’s the tale of a school teaching young girls to be criminals, a kind of St Trinian’s in extremis. I think it’s supposed to a wild kind of satire on the standards of our times, but I’m sorry to report that it’s not actually what you’d call funny. Much too heavy-handed for that. Nor is it much of an adventure thriller. In fact, I reckon it’s really not very good at all. But what do I know? Not a lot, and certainly not who Peter Clawson is.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 1/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
5/5


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