Tuesday 24 November 2020


By William Grant

A series of books following undercover detectives working for the Faraday Security Service as they attempt to keep the railroads safe. Six were published before Lynx Books went out of business. Two more announced books never saw the light of day. The series ran from July 1988 to May 1989.

William Grant is a pseudonym shared by five authors. James Reasoner wrote the first one, Paul Block the second, Robert Vaughan wrote books three, five and six and Bill Crider wrote the fourth. The two none-published books were number seven, Avalanche Run, by Crider and number eight, The Owlhoot Express, written by Chet Cunningham.

Matthew Faraday is as much a mystery as those he solves. But, as head of the Faraday Security Service, he’d already earned a reputation: tough, smart, fiercely loyal to his friends, dangerous to his enemies, and as much at home on the back of a horse as in a Kansas City boardroom.

And it is from such a place that his latest case comes. The Kansas Pacific Railroad is in trouble. Indian raids, sabotage, and murder have halted the laying of track that would tie the west – and the list of suspects rangers from Kansas City to the Nebraska railhead.

The mystery only deepens when Faraday dispatches his best undercover agent Daniel Britten to Nebraska – into a hornet’s nest. Now Faraday’s shuffling the clues in Kansas City – caught in a conflict between an old friend and an old sweetheart – getting closer to the secret that could cost his life, while Dan dodges bullets, arrows, and the attentions of two beautiful women – either of whom may hold the secret that will stop the railroad, and halt the destiny of The Iron Horse.

Indian raids. Armed bandits. Violent storms. These were nothing…at least not compared to a railroad man’s worst nightmare: Two trains. One track. A head-on collision. The ungodly sound of ripping metal. The terrified screams of the dying. And on the Colorado plains, it finally happened. A terrible accident. 

When two more trains meet the same grim fate, “accident” is not a satisfactory answer – and Matthew Faraday, the tough, smart honcho of Faraday Security Service, is called in to uncover the saboteurs. With the help of Nora Sutherland and Stuart Kennedy, two of his top operatives, and Jim Hart, a clever young newsman, he’s closing in on the murderous truth.

But time is running out – at the speed of a locomotive – as the Faraday agents take to the rails aboard a train headed for a date with disaster – while a cold, vicious mastermind plots their Collision Course.

The train-top murder of one of his female operatives has thrust Matthew Faraday, the wily chief of Faraday Security Service, into the dark and twisting tunnel of another railroad mystery, and a coded message in the dead woman’s pocket is the only clue.

But it’s enough to send Faraday to the War Department looking for answers, and two of his best undercover agents – Leah Saunders and Mike Rindell – into the heart of the Rebel South to save a Yankee gold shipment from the notorious Tyreen’s Raiders.

Now it’s a race for a fortune, by train, on foot, on horseback, and in a silk balloon…a race against time, treachery, and murder, where every turn of the track hides unseen friends, unsuspecting enemies, and death in several guises.

Until personal tragedy hit him, and he spent a year hitting the bottle, Jim Stone was once of Faraday Security’s top operatives – quick with his fists, or his gun.

Now Matt Faraday’s giving him a chance to make his way back. There’s trouble on the Denver & Rio Bravo line – the railroad carrying the Allen Players on a theatre tour to far Colorado. One of the troupe has been found dead on a dark stage. Murdered. And Stone’s been sent – undercover – to replace him and unravel the mystery. But the bodies are piling up faster than the clues, and everyone looks like a perfect suspect.

The stage directions in this case call for a train ambush, a deadly masquerade, screaming bullets, flashing swords, and a poisonous climax before the final curtain falls!

Many people believed that Ironsprings should be called Iron Fist, because that’s how self-serving Marshal Josh Wade and his deputized brothers ran things – letting gambling, boozing, brawling, and prostitution run rampant as long as Wade collected a “business tax” from the profiteers.

But Ironsprings was a railroad town as well, and there were signs that the rash of robberies plaguing the Union Pacific originated somewhere in Josh Wade’s domain.

That’s when Jared Macalester, the trackwalker, came to town. But Macalester was more than he appeared to be; he was Matt Faraday’s good friend and crackerjack agent gone undercover to uncover the truth, stop the crimes, and save the town in the process – but not until first facing ambush, train wrecks, a small civil war, pistolero Tim Quick, whose temper and gun matched his name, and the hottest blood-feud since the Earps and the Clantons reddened the dust of the O.K. Corral!

As our wounded nation heals itself in the aftermath of the Civil War, it is once more plunged into sorrow. In one treasonous moment President Abraham Lincoln is dead, and – though his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, is quickly caught – the treachery is far from over.

A plot is being hatched to kidnap Lincoln’s body from the funeral train that will carry the fallen leader through the countryside of mourners, from Washington to its final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.

Matthew Faraday has gotten wind of the plot – although its perpetrators are still a mystery. With the blessings of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and the aid of his newest and boldest agent, Cole Yeager, Faraday is sworn to protect the great man’s body from desecration – while ambush, runaway locomotives, and death-dealing renegades wait up ahead of the Train of Glory.


D.M. McGowan said...

Great idea for a series. Too bad it didn't continue

Graham said...

Here's hoping someone decides to republish them. It sounds like a great reaction series.

clerk2 said...

I think Bill Crider wrote "Colorado Special" and I believe James Reasoner wrote a couple of books in this series. Agreed, a good premise for a Western series; the last in the series was entitled "Avalanche Express" but never published.

Steve M said...

If you read the second paragraph of the post you'll discover who wrote what and that there were two more books that were never published. :)

clerk2 said...

Thanks for the correction Steve M