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Canadian hack James Moffatt is best known for his youthspolitation novels starting with "Skinhead" in 1970 and ending with "Mod Rule" in 1980. That said, he was already middle-aged when as 'Richard Allen' he achieved notoriety as a fictional chronicler of British youth cults. Moffatt was born in Canada in 1922 and died in England in 1993. After a spell living in California (which may or may not have taken in much of the fifties and early sixties) he moved to England where he wrote a slew of novels between 1965 and 1980, initially for Compact Books and subsequently for New English Library.

Although by the 1990s Moffatt was claiming that he'd been ghosting autobiographies for sports and other media personalities while living in the USA, details of these works are hard to pin down and Moffatt himself was extremely vague about both them and much of his other output. When right at the end of Moffatt's life I contacted him about his writing, I found what he had to say to be generalisations and unfortunately, he provided few concrete details such as book titles or the names of those whose work he'd ghosted. I suspect this was partly a matter of his having forgotten much of what he'd done, but was also a deliberate tactic to prolong contact with the 'outside' world once he found himself in a nursing home. The earliest work of Moffatt's that I've been able to track down are a series of eight 'Johnny Canuck' detective novels published by Compact Books (an imprint of Roberts & Vinter) in 1965 & 1966. Moffatt also wrote (or partially wrote) other books for Compact including a few of the many works credited to Hank Janson, as well as some by Hilary Brand. It is also alleged that Michael Moorcock who edited much of Compact's output completely rewrote a novel originally drafted by Moffatt entitled "Somewhere In The Night".

Moving on, the back covers of all the Johnny Canuck books carry the following blurb:

"Johnny Canuck's hot blood is one quarter Sioux Indian. His grandfather fought with Sitting Bull at the Big Horn. Together they escaped across the border to Canada where the mounties treated them well. When Sitting Bull returned to the States, Johnny's grandfather stayed.. Because he liked the white Canadians he changed his name to John Canuck - the usual nickname for a Canadian. His son kept the name and so did Johnny. Today Johnny Canuck has won himself a reputation as a tough, resourceful private eye who gets results where others have failed. And there are quite a few gorgeous dames who agree. The inspiration for Johnny Canuck grew from author James Moffatt's own respect and affection for the Canadian Indian (sic)."

Moffatt's private eye must have been at least partially inspired by the 1940s Canadian comic book character also called Johnny Canuck. Created by Leo Bachle, the original Canuck had a vicious right hook and worked as an air force captain and secret agent fighting the Nazis. Moffatt's Canuck books are all written in the first person, with a pseudo-transatlantic accent, which makes these novels appear - at least superficially - quite different from his later, decidedly 'English', prose. However, the choice of themes in the Canuck books is not unfamiliar to readers of Moffatt's later work. This description, from "Terror Go 'Round"would not disappoint fans of "Skinhead":

"My companion shuddered and drew closer. She wasn't one of the fragile types - neither did she care for shenanigans of this type. Her arty soul cried out in horror at the scene of wanton terror as the four youths amalgamated their skills and ripped the entire display apart, chanting hot little catch phrases and mouthing their rebellion against a society that tolerated their antics more than I could.

"Too many folks stand and watch. But not I - not when creatures from the dark ages decide to mar what had started out as a pleasant afternoon."

These early novels are not racist in the manner of Moffatt's later work, and it is amusing to see the author of the 'Skinhead' books writing from an almost liberal perspective. "The Blue Line Murder" is a case in point:

" 'I know,' she said at last, 'I work for Wordlow, I hold membership of the Freedom Front Party and I also shoo-ed the goons in to deal with you. All that Johnny and I'm still Jewish. The Party hates my kind, they also hate negroes, Catholics and Communists. They are a minority group beholden to the Hitler tradition. They aim to get control of this country and turn us all into puppets dancing on their strings. I work for them. I belong to them - but for one reason. To see every one of them in hell.' "

Despite the 'anti-Nazi bias' and the 'racial tolerance', the sexual stereotyping in this early work is no different to that found in Moffatt's later novels, as this extract - also from "The Blue Line Murder" - shows:

"I'd met dames like her before. They were borderline nymphomaniacs. An attraction triggered a deep-seated craving and they had to keep going until they subjugated the man."

This description isn't very different to one Moffatt would write six years later in "Justice For A Dead Spy":

"She was a nympho with a difference. She needed men for her sickness yet she hated what she felt after the act. Hated enough to kill in order to remove the blemish.....Her mouth opened and four-letter words flowed in gushing reminder that here was a woman who wallowed and fed on filth."

From the late-sixties until 1980 Moffatt wrote for New English Library under his own name and the pen names including J. J. More, Etienne Aubin, Trudi Maxwell, Leslie McManus, James Taylor, Ray Ferrier, Johnny Douglas, Ron Cunningham and Richard Allen. That said, only the novels Moffatt wrote as Richard Allen have had any lasting impact.

The novels NEL (New English Library) published under Moffatt's own name vary in content and quality. "Queen Kong" was a tie-in for a film which flopped. A stand alone novel "The Marathon Murder" failed to find a readership despite being hyped on BBC2's "Late Night Line Up", where before a TV audience Moffatt was given a loose outline for a book he was supposed to write to order - and under great pressure - by the following week (in reality the novel had been written prior to this TV appearance, thereby ensuring that nothing went wrong and that the publishers could have it in the shops two weeks later). Moving on, "The Court Yard" has nothing to recommend it beyond the back cover blurb:

"In the upper class riverside area of Hilldale stood The Courtyard - an elite and historic block of houses.

"Exclusive? Yes.

"Secluded? Yes.

"Respectable? Undoubtedly not!

"There were stories, just rumours, about what went on there. Rumours about perversion, orgies, adultery and wife swapping.

"But when a gorgeous young nymphomaniac bursts upon The Courtyard scene and makes shocking allegations against one of the residents, the whole story of depravity and corruption is revealed."

According to the back cover blurb of Moffatt's novel "The Naked Light", it is an "appalling exposure of the soft underside of Hollywood". If the publishers had been more frank they might have described it as an appalling exposure of the fantasies of its readers, but then in pulp that's already taken for granted:

"Stefenos shuddered as he watched the 'great' Hymie fondle Chloe's ass. The way it was done spoke of bedrooms, naked flesh, uninhibited passions. There was no subtlety. There was no need for any. Hymie was an admitted master of the pornographic touch. In every film he made his hands roamed flesh with all the delicacy of an octopus."

The sex in these novels is animalistic, bestial, and Moffatt delights in this because it lends his 'characters' a 'naturalness' that counters the deep seated alienation felt by both author and audience - an alienation felt in both life generally and more specifically in relation to sex. The depth of this alienation is revealed by the fact that 'natural human sexuality' is depicted as more animalistic than that of animals. Indeed it verges on the 'unnatural' and speaks of hell - or at least the capitalist present. 'The Naked Light" contains the following description:

'All around him, grasping exhortations spoke of frenzied partaking. The sensual meeting of flesh on flesh filled the night - and somewhere, the insidious rustle of undergrowth warned of a night creature driven from his lair by unabashed lusts."

This ridiculous and reductionist view of human sexuality is repeated again and again in Moffatt's books. The following is an example from "Skinhead Girls", written under the pen name Richard Allen:

"Toby grinned and bore deeper. Nobody had to write him a letter to state that this bird was getting the fullest pleasure from his rape. Her every panted exhortation spoke highly of his ability to please."

Talk about gender bending role reversal! Toby is the rapist and yet Moffatt writes of 'his rape' and the 'bird' (UK slang for a girl) getting the 'fullest pleasure' from it. Rape and the threat of rape are featured again and again in Moffatt's books. The victims are generally portrayed as enjoying the experience, a bitter contrast to the realities of rape in our grossly heterosexism society. A society whose norms - stripped of their concrete implications - are recreated in Moffatt's books. This is a fantasy world where rape is reduced from a vicious crime to 'the return of nature', where 'animal' passions' boil over and the personality is liquidated in a complete 'loss of control'. But this is no ordinary loss of control, despite it's 'naturalness', it is a state in which all the inequalities of capitalist society are maintained. While it should be patently obvious to anyone who has reflected on the subject that our sexualities are socially constructed - and that sexual urges are subject to individual and collective control - Moffatt embraces a mystical view of sexuality as an unchanging given. But for those of us who understand that all sexualities are subject to constant redefinition (and even a cursory study of the evolution of pornography over the past fifty years will confirm this), Moffatt's views are fraudulent as well as ridiculous.

It seems safe to assume that Moffatt considered his Silas Manner's books - "The Sleeping Bomb" and "Justice For A Dead Spy" - his real work, and that he saw the 'Skinhead' novels as no more than a profitable sideline. The 'Richard Allen' books read as though they were knocked out without much thought or effort being put into them. In contrast, the 'Manners' books ~ with their clipped and 'mannered' prose - appear to have been laboured over. Indeed, Moffatt himself refers very favourably to the 'Manners' books in "Skinhead Girls', published - of course - under the pen name Richard Allen:

"Anything I knew came from reading books - I had a library card and used it to get books by Harold Robbins and Frank Yerby. I bought paperbacks too. My favourites were Richard Allen's "'Skinhead" and "Justice For A Dead Spy" by James Moffatt. That Silas Manners was fifty times better than James Bond."

Although there is a certain black humour in Moffatt's references to himself, it appears he did consider the 'Manners' books to be his best. Thus, in "The Walk-On Girls" - written under the pen-name J. J. More - Moffatt praises his 'Virginia Box' books for their popular appeal rather than their quality:

"A leggy receptionist reluctantly advised Mr Coates a Mr John Stanley was in the waiting room and returned to reading a copy of THE GIRL FROM H.A.R.D. No.3.

"John Stanley grinned. He'd read the book, wondered why the character Virginia Box hadn't been made into a movie. In his opinion she was everything James Bond wasn't. And a raver to make some lucky producer a load of money. "

How serious Moffatt is in making these proclamations is open to conjecture, since there is undoubtedly an attitude of cynicism running through all his books. That said, the Silas Manners novels feature a particularly mannered prose style and (for Moffatt) some unusually focused 'meditations' on the state of Britain as a nation in the 1970s. In "The Sleeping Bomb" we find the following description:

"It was all one the British Army, the hereditary valour had gone by the boards of socialist de-classification. Thank God, he thought, that the Americans had not lost that last vestige of discipline so vital to a regular army. The tide had turned - left-wing appeasement had seen fit to hand over yet another heritage to that ancient 'colony'."

All Moffatt's NEL novels are built on stereotyped plots and characters - which he occasionally undercuts by making them completely ridiculous. For example in "The Naked Light" he writes:

"Dick had spent several years in England and swore like a Britisher. His clothing always came direct from Bond Street, so did his shoes and monogrammed nightware. Like so many Californians, Dick was a confirmed Anglophile - more English than the English. But one British habit was not for Dick. He could not abide the taste of scotch. He preferred rye - straight from the Canadian Club bottle. Of course, if beer was the drink, he reverted to his British loves and called heartily for Red Barrel..."

The references to aristocratic English tastes, and the sudden bathos of 'Red Barrel', with its reputation as the very worst British beer, can only be interpreted as an insult to the reader. However, one wonders if the joke wasn't ultimately on Moffatt, since it would take an imbecile not to recognise that the 'Red Barrel' reference was out of place.

The cynicism Moffatt displays towards his readers is intensified by the repetition of certain 'ideas' and phrases throughout his books. For instance, the following paragraph appears word for word the same on page 15 of "Skinhead" and page 62 of "Skinhead Girls" (NEL editions, not the 1990s ST Publishing reprints) , both written under the pen name Richard Allen:

"If air was precious, a sentence spoken without four-letter emphasis was enough to bring a sudden silence, raised eyebrows and got the speaker an award for bravery in the face of obscenity. Even the two barmaids spoke with anatomical descriptiveness and some of their suggestions were physical impossibilities except for a mechanical engineer."

However, what may well be cynicism on the part of the author, actually lends the books some quality - with an unintentional nod in the direction of such avant-garde figures as William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, who deliberately repeat phrases throughout their works. Another example of repetition from "Skinhead Girls":

"Basically he had a feeling for violence. That was what had compelled him to take up boxing. The thud of a glove on an enemy's face did something for his 'soul'. The thud of a boot in the groin did more!"

The line about individuals having 'a feeling for violence' appears in several of the books Moffatt wrote under the Richard Allen pen name - most notably "Skinhead" and "Boot Boys". The repetition of this idea adds to the 'animal' quality of his books in a less offensive way than his use of sex. Pushed far enough these devices might have made Moffatt a Lautreamont. The idea of sex and violence being mechanical, and as a result somehow 'natural', and without the complications they involve in 'real' life, is repeated throughout his books. Another example taken from "Mod Rule" written under the Allen pen name:

"Like an automaton, Joe started swinging, throwing punches each blow bringing him the greatest satisfaction as the biker's moans of hurt rose above the screaming dancers."

And in "Skinhead Girls":

"Like an automaton, Peter kept punching... the surging rage bordering on murder.....Ncra saw blood trickle down Bill's whitewashed face. The youth was in terrible agony, hands clutching his balls. She loved the 'scent' of blood..."

Another idea repeated in the 'Allen' books is that of writers producing copy about youth cults. "Terrace Terrors" contains the following:

"Reg Peterson· pushed his battered typewriter away and lit a cigarette. At thirty-nine, Reg had reached a crossroads in his career. A decisive crossroads. Until recently he had been lauded as 'that promising author'. No longer. Returns now showed his first three books had not appealed to the public regardless of critical acclaim. His publisher, a businessman interested in profits and literary masterpieces secondly, had made it known he would not contract for another book if this current one failed to make its royalty advances.

"On the brink of disaster he had had one of those inspirational flashes common to men. of 'genius' - and the near complete result of this lay on his desk.

"All he had to do was get some authentic background, insert this into his first draft and 'create' one spectacular incident to make high sales a guarantee, not a faint hope.

"He finished his cigarette, lit another and poured a stiff drink. Unlike the majority of writers he did not imbibe steadily. Definitely not when working.

"His eyes dropped to the partial manuscript. It required a title. Closing his eyes he visualised.


While in "Skinhead Girls" Moffatt has this to say on the subject of writers and youth cults:

"VICTOR CARLYLE pushed his battered typewriter away and lit a cigarette. Lazily reading the finished article he 'felt' the words make their impact and automatically knew he had a winner. Pouring a generous 'Grants' he sloshed ginger ale on top and tasted the mix...

"He finished his drink, poured another...

"The article required a title. He stubbed the cigarette in an ashtray, closed his eyes and visualised.





"At last, in desperation, he drew the typewriter back to his fingers and inserted a fresh sheet of paper. Unwittingly he gave a name to a cult that had yet to make its debut...


"He liked that, freshened his glass. He knew just the editor for this masterpiece. His freelance career was off the ground. Only bigger and better successes stood between him and a country home far from this sickening mob..."

These repetitions build into an obscene hobbling rhythm, striking chords familiar to anyone who has worked in a factory, attended school, or experienced daily life under capitalism. Not only are wimmin, non-'whites', hippies and 'other' drop outs, presented as stereotypes, but even the author and his readers are no more than cardboard figures in a media spectacle. If Moffatt is a mechanical 'genius' pulling his 'battered typewriter' towards him and pushing it away again as his 'inspiration' ebbs and flows, then the readers are 'workers', mechanical nobodies who are pleased to be a cog in a system which reduces life to 'survival'. "Sorts" is a case in point:

"Don't try to browbeat me, ' she yelled as anger swelled. 'Crissakes, your lot are nothing compared to skins. At least they bloody work for a living. What do you do? Draw Social Security?'"

and latter:

"Skins and smooths had faults galore but at least they worked and socialised to an extent. Not so the Jocks and Whites. They shunned normal intercourse. They failed, dismally, to accept a shred of responsibility for the society in which they lived. They took without giving anything. They were leech-like, sucking dry the limb that provided. "

Moffatt's stereotypes are limited in their source range, but still 'powerful' because they draw from the 'mainstream' of English and American bigotry. In Moffatt's depictions of 'the oriental', one can see the influence of Sax Rohmer's 'leering yellow faces' - and even the pen of De Quincey. Moffatt gives the following, 'classically' bigoted description in "Justice For A Dead Spy":

"He was one of those inscrutable Chinese. No emotion would ever form a lasting impression on his bland features."

Of course such descriptions do undergo 'modernisation'. The following comes from the same novel:

"This would be a one meeting contact. Orders from China were never repeated. Only Chairman Mao's thoughts bore repetition."

This and other 'conventions' make "Justice For A Dead Spy" unmistakably a post-World War II novel. 'Ideas' which were absent from pre-war thrillers find elaboration in Moffatt's novels. In the passage below we see the repetition of a cliche that first surfaced in 'pulp' with Mickey Spillane:

"If the truth were known, sir. - Manners, like any other agent, would prefer to let his enemies live on for their eventual span. But he - and they - cannot. It is imperative that men like Symington-Barrett die. The courts are too lenient. The police powerless without cast-iron proof. If we didn't have enforcers like Manners this land would be overrun with agents from every Eastern nation."

Whitehall incompetence (the incompetence of government 'functionaries') is an underlying theme in "Justice For A Dead Spy". For example the following cliche about secrecy and red tape, which again echoes Spillane, despite appearing in an Anglicised context::

" 'C!' He smiled inwardly. To think of Fleming and Bond and 'M'. The public had taken that with a dose of salts. Yet, they in the service knew how damned close Ian had been. Of course, he had been a journalist once. That explained much. Every British journalist worth a by-line knew 'C' and those directly under him. What a laugh! Only the public were kept in ignorance. And for Whitehall purposes. Tradition and the belief that civil servants must never be made to shoulder the blame they so often deserved."

Like Spillane, Moffatt is in all but name a 'left-wing' fascist. Nationalism is the ideology that will save country, and the present rulers - as much as the communist 'threat' - are a danger. "Justice For A Dead Spy" features the following description of Whitehall:

"Conway never considered that there was his country at its very worst. That here, in their countless - unproductive - thousands were the lack of brains that 'guided' the nation's thinking. That these so called protected classes were responsible for all the ills falling on a sinking land.

"Conway couldn't consider that. Conway was one of them!"

And again in another passage from the same book:

"If I'm capable of dying for my land then I'm also highly capable of saying the set up I work for is stinking. Is decaying. Is stagnating in a swelling army of civil servants whose code is toleration and integration."

Naturally, Moffatt's 'left-wing' fascism has a decidedly 'British' taint, as the following extract demonstrates:

"...we've got to be hard and ruthless and strong if we're ever going to contain the spread of communistic ideals. We've got to give our young men and women something worth defending. An image of greatness. Put the teeth back in the old bulldog. Tell the so called liberators of Africa and Asia we don't intend to subsidise revolution and the total overthrow of the white race. We've got to return to the era of gunboat diplomacy and show the flag - backed by battalions of regular troops and naval warships. These new nations are semi-savage and know but one thing - force."

Moffatt shows his lighter - but equally offensive - side in the 'Virginia Box' "Girl From H. A. R. D." books. In Moffatt's novels, a polymorphous perversity is forever threatening to shatter his 'sloppily' constructed 'anti-characterisations'. In the 'Virginia Box' books he gets to 'grips' with lesbianism and sado-masochism. From "The Girl From H. A. R. D. No. 1"

"Since puberty she had been an avid devotee of illicit affairs.That had been how she met Ian. How she had managed to prevent herself falling utterly for his type of kicks. In the beginning his brand of pleasure had been extraordinarily thrilling. A novelty creating explosive reactions. But, as with too much of a good thing, the desired excitement had begun to take on boredom. She had unwillingly suffered his frenzied flagellations, doing her wifely duty without deriving the utmost satisfaction from their sessions in his 'study'. 0nly the occasional bit of adultery spiced what she called married patience."


"A shudder shook Gerda's phunpish frame. Despite her mental abhorrence she sensed a reaction favourable to lma's questioning hands within her betraying flesh. It had been a long time since Willi made love to her, she thought. Slowly, involuntarily, she found herself kissing back. Her body yielding to explorations quite beyond her ken."

Moffatt remains on the 'brink'. Lesbianism is presented as the fantasy of voyeuristic males, and the sado-masochism is laughable when not actually offensive. But one of the 'problems' for an author presenting repressed sexualities as somehow both 'natural' and 'uncontrollable' is that unless he is careful the repression might very well overflow its container. Moffatt doesn't allow this to happen in his books, but it does occur in the work of other pulp novelists, such as Mick Norman. The following is an extract from Norman's "Angels From Hell":

"Taking him by the shoulder and pulling him close. Kissing him, thrusting his tongue deep into his mouth. Both mouths slobbered. Horror piled upon horror. The ritual, then the kiss. Worse. Something he would never admit to any person as long as he lived. During the kiss, in the moment of closeness to Vincent, he had felt a stirring in his groin. A swelling of pleasure. He had enjoyed it!"

The nearest Moffatt comes to Norman's position is in "Mod Rule", the last book he wrote under the Allen pen name:

"Joe wanted to bash the bastard. He hated queers with a virile youth's fear of turning into one."

Moffatt's books written under the pen name J. J. More, use as their principal characters journalists, and explore similar territory to the 'Virginia Box' novels. Whatever the 'plot', Moffatt can't stay away from his favourite themes. "The Walk-On Girls" allows him - writing as J. J. More - to explore gay sexualities, a subject that simultaneously attracts and repels him. In this particular book he even allows a gay character to 'speak':

"Nothing would ever weaken his desire to see homosexuals accepted as 'ordinary' members of the community. That they did not indulge in sex the way married couples did was not the bone of contention. He had often joked about 'campers' and their off-beat roles. Although he honestly believed men as lovers had more than any man-woman relationship could offer, he had to admit that the norm alone could reproduce the species. That 'queers' - a term he loathed - had to take second place to the old-fashioned copulation cycle."

This ridiculous mock 'tolerance' ends up being a foil for Moffatt's usual Spillanian preoccupations:

"Anarchy rules the roost. People can't stand on a platform and speak unless they obey the dictates of a bunch of rabble-rousing pseudo-intellectuals. Half the damned teachers supposed to educate our kids spend their time thudding Maoist thoughts into receptive young heads. The other half are too interested in sex to worry. Boots and ass - that's the apex of university training it seems!"

"Mod Rule" - written in 1980 - took Moffatt's writing 'back' to where it had been in 1970. This final Richard Allen novel (and Moffatt's last book too), features the bastard offspring of Joe Hawkins - the hero of "Skinhead", the first book Moffatt wrote under his Richard Allen pen name. Joe Watson is the 'result' of his father's rape of Lottie Newman in "Skinhead Escapes". Lottie subsequently married Victor Watson, and her son took Victor's surname, while she had already given him the first name of the man who raped her.

At the age of 13, Joe runs away from home and finds himself drawn to Plaistow in East London. Although he doesn't know it, his father came from this area. Joe becomes the lodger - and lover - of Eileen Bryce, who is 31 but looks 40. Latter he gets involved with a porn racket and eventually rips-off his boss. The novel ends with Lottie realisinq she's lost both the men in her life. Her husband because of the strain a second rape puts on their marriage, and her son to his father's criminal genes.

After 1980 Moffatt's career went belly up due to a drink problem and this prolific writer didn't publish anything during the final thirteen years of his life. His work shouldn't require a theoretical summing up, once enough of those to whom it appeals understand its attraction we will have superceded this society.

This is a slightly revised version of an article which first appeared in Stewart Home's Smile supplement to Vague 20 (London 1988).

More on 1970s New English Library youthsloitation novels (including the Richard Allen 'Skinhead' series)

Interview with Laurence James (Moffatt's editor at New English Library and author of the 'Mick Norman' Hell's Angels novels)

Interview with Jimmy Edwards (singer with London's first skinhead band The Neat Change back in the 1960s)

Jazz Clubs, Drugs and Proto-Mods: Terry Taylor’s seminal London youth culture novel “Baron’s Court, All Change”

'Aesthetic' fascism in post-punk music (article on Death In June)

Books & Writing

Skinhead by Richard Allen cover
Skinhead Escapes by Richard Allen cover
Sorts by Richard Allen cover
Terrace Terrors by Richard Allen cover
Boot Boys by Richard Allen cover
Punk Rock by Richard Allen cover
Dracula & The Virgins of the Undead cover
Queen Kong book  cover
Glam by Richard Allen coverKnuckle Girls by Richard Allen cover
Mod Rule by Richard Allen coverSkinhead Farewell by Richard Allen cover
Teeny Bopper Idol by Richard Allen coverTrouble For Skinhead by Richard Allen cover
Diary of a Female Wrestler by Trudi Maxwell cover
Suedehead by Richard Allen cover
Terror of the 7 Crypts by Etienne Aubin cover

STEWART HOME'S INTRODUCTION TO SATAN'S SLAVES by 'Richard Allen' (Codex, Hove 1998).
What you hold in your hand is a collectors item, a reissue of the rarest and most sought after Charles Manson paperback cash-in. Authorship of the original New English Library tome was credited to James Taylor but the book is actually the work of the pulp medium James Moffatt. This name will mean little to any but the most demented book collectors, who don't have time to read. They put all their energy into tracking down rare editions, then soak up the information by a process of osmosis. This is the post-modern condition. With the exception of just under a score of titles, no one reads James Moffatt's output for NEL and Compact Books anymore. The cognoscenti just handle the hot surfaces of 'his' Hank Janson's and J. J. More's, feel the sticky heat running up through their fingers. These neglected novels are said to run to over a hundred titles. No one knows how many there really are.

The collectors cum dealers deride those who've never advanced beyond the eighteen volume skinhead Bildungsroman Moffatt penned under the name Richard Allen. These scavengers dedicate their lives to tracking down foxed copies of books such as Satan's Slaves in locations that exist beyond the outer reaches of rumour - Long Sutton, Jaywick, Portslade - then sneer at American gore hounds who part with fifty quid to complete their Manson library. There is an army of obsessives desperate to pay over the odds for this super rare Manson cash-in authored by a dead Canadian who lived and published in England from the swinging sixties through to the rise of Thatcher. 'Satans Slaves? Impossible to find governor, I picked this one up when I was on the trail of an unpublished Hope Hodgson manuscript, the sequel to House On The Borderland. You know Liz Young? She reviews true crime for the broadsheets. I supplied her copy. I'm the only person who can find them. Not even Moffatt's widow has an original edition. Codex had to get one from me when they bought the rights.'

Moffatt wrote in a trance, whisky was his medium. He dropped the name 100 Pipers into dozens of books because these placements earned gratis scotch. He was a photographic negative and when the literal meanings of his writings are reversed, they gain prophetic infallibility. Moffatt was dealing in automatic writing, table tapping, ouija boards. Read backwards his fictions become the most reasonable approximations of the truth. Misheard asides matured into full-blown rumours. Pub whispers that infiltrated gossip columns, then fed back to Secret State controllers. Impossible to say who funded Moffatt, who invented him. Impossible to say if he actually existed as anything other than a regiment of clones and imitators. One thing is certain, in Satan's Slaves he shamelessly recycled telephone generated news reports culled from the daily press.

Moffatt's speciality was tabloid-style right-wing moral panic between soft covers. In Satan's Slaves he announced that the hippies had gone too far and there would be a backlash. What actually happened was the exact opposite, those who embraced flower power rejected Manson and instead the cult leader was taken up by the burgeoning militia movement. Today there are neo-Nazis, such as James Mason who publishes the Siege newsletter, who believe that Manson is their Fuhrer, the natural successor to Hitler. Likewise, Manson's psycho-doctrines have been taken up by an assortment of eco-fascists who advocate everything from poison gas attacks on subway commuters to fertiliser truck bombings against the unemployed as a way of 'ending welfare dependency'.

There is plenty here to satisfy those who crave the spectacle of outrage and horror. Critical readers should beware of a complex and secretly worked out system of parallels, analogues and reversals that divert attention into petty mystification and pulp frissons. Remember that collecting first editions is a mug's game, if you stick with this reissue you'll save yourself fifty quid. The Richard Allen skinhead novels have been republished in omnibus form by S. T. Press. By shopping around you could buy first editions of all eighteen of these youth culture schlockbusters for less wedge than you'd need to lay down for an original copy of Satan's Slaves. Letters of thanks for this reprint should be addressed to the Chief Editor at Codex. I'm not responsible for anything other than issuing this warning against the possible side effects of reading what follows. In the interests of sanity it must be made clear that I do not wish to endorse this muck.

On the spur of a mad moment one does crazy things which, reviewed in the light of experience often seem to open the floodgates of self-destruction. The valiant soul tries to compensate by performing super-human feats to counteract foolishness. The run-of-the-mill types get uptight and fall apart. I have always considered myself resilient. Under the circumstances it is just as well that some mysterious power of self-preservation burns bright within my writing 'heart'.

When Colin Woodcock of Codex threw the idea of becoming his fiction editor at me I instantly accepted the invitation. In the cold light of after-the-fact reasoning this was really asking for trouble. Colin knew several of my close friends who nursed writing ambitions and it did not surprise me when I found their efforts in the pile of manuscripts that had been dumped on my desk. It didn't take long to sort through the submissions. First of all I threw out everything that was over sixty thousand words in length. Next, I went through the covering letters that accompanied the manuscripts. Seven would-be authors were rejected for making references to their 'art', twenty-four for mentioning writers I don't like and one for using the word 'caveat'. I was able to eliminate another two authors because of their posh double-barrelled surnames and a third for being called Rupert. After twenty minutes work I was left with just one possible candidate for publication, A259 Multiplex Bomb 'Outrage' by Simon Strong.

My heart sunk, I'd never yet read a decent line of fiction by an unpublished author who was also a personal acquaintance. Codex had to publish something and Simon's manuscript was the only thing to survive my rigorous selection process. I settled down to read the text and in the first tense ticking-off seconds I knew my reputation hung in the balance. Fortunately, A259 Multiplex Bomb 'Outrage'  was the best novel I'd read by a British author in years! What I am doing in seeing this book through to publication is not nepotism. For too long the paperback author has resided in a wilderness remote from 'literary' acclaim. The writers who 'slave' to bring the reading public entertainment at a reasonable price are the backbone of an industry geared to honour those for whom the 'bell should not always toll'. Far too many critics devote lengthy passages to books ghosted for this, or that, personality. 'Ghosted' by the real pro, I may add. Others are subjected to adulation when, in fact, their efforts are the result of editorial revision which turns a moderate manuscript into a work of genius.

Simon Strong isn't going to win the Booker Prize, I wouldn't want to be involved with anything likely to win 'accolades' of that type! Instead, A259 Multiplex Bomb 'Outrage' gives fiction back the bad name it needs in these days of literary respectability and the hype surrounding the inflated advances given to authors who have singularly failed to sink their teeth into the task of re-inventing world culture in its entirety. What does the reading public really want, the effete twitterings of the Oxbridge 'elite' or the no-holds barred pulp-spatter of Simon Strong? History will vindicate my judgement...