Moved by numerous customer complaints to Amazon that Edward Cline’s novels violated norms of current moral and community standards, Jeff Bezos, the owner of the book seller, has decided to banish the novels from sale on the platform. This is not an unprecedented action. He has recently banished other writers’ books for the same reason, such as Roosh Vörek’s Game, which is a harmless, “sexist”guide to dating.
Cline has approximately sixty-nine titles on Amazon, published by Create Space and Kindle, including several non-fiction titles that attack Islam and living politicians. These are collections of several of his Rule of Reason columns. Paramount among these titles is his seven-book Sparrowhawk series about the American Revolution – which does not conform to the current revisionist interpretation of the period and is offensive on several levels.
In addition to the historical series, are several dozen detective novels, dominated by the Cyrus Skeen series, set in the 1920s and 1930s. These latter novels, whose stories take place in San Francisco, unrealistically portray a period in which the detective combats and foils Communists, Progressives, all depicted as villains, and also run-of-the- mill criminals, because he is consistently of the conservative, pro-gun, and alt-right suasion. The baddies are irredeemably bad, and Skeen is always the good. The first of this series is China Basin, in which the author derogates gays, modern theatre, and lonely widows, among other offenses.
In An August Interlude he defends his wife’s artist’s model and portrays a convent that pimps out novitiates to a high class bordello next door to the convent. Amazon has received innumerable complaints from Catholic Church spokesmen about this title. It depicts and condones violence against women when Skeen shoots some nuns.
One of the most offensive titles is The Black Stone, in which the detective is at odds with the early agents of the Islamic civic rights organization, The Muslim Brotherhood, closely tied to today’s Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Skeen not only defeats and kills the agents, but subjects Islam to insensitive, disparaging mockery, as do his wife and a reporter friend. These are not characters one can admire and emulate when the subject is Islam.
Another top selling Skeen novel is A Crimson Overture, in which Skeen works to “avenge” the murder of a British spy. In this number he terminates a few Russian or Soviet spies and exposes a British diplomatic official as another “Red.” One admiring female reader commented, “A Crimson Overture is the latest in a series about the all-American Cyrus Skeen, my new detective hero. Skeen is smart, cultured, honest, brave, confident, handsome, and individualistic (which together, in my eyes, equals sexy). This and other of Cline’s Skeen novels are popular and sell dozens of Kindle and print copies every month. There are very few thumbs-down reviews. You have to question the tastes of the admirers as well as the credibility of the detective hero and the lingering yearning in our society for so-called plotted novels and squeaky-clean heroes as opposed to the struggling but enlightening literature of modern “steam of conscious” novels which tackle the real problems of our day.
The FBI, known then as the BOI, or the Bureau of Investigation, gets high marks from Cline and Skeen. Skeen has friends in the Bureau. It was not the compromised, corrupted federal organization that it is today.
Cline even takes a swipe at unions in The Gumshoe Guild, when Skeen goes nose-to-nose with San Francisco dockworker leader Harry Bridges, who has “organized” the city’s private investigators. Skeen refuses to join the “union,” but Bridges insists that he merge with the shape up, and sparks, of course, fly and men die.
Perhaps the most outlandish of the Skeen novels is The Daedâlus Conspiracy, set mostly in Daedâlus Grove in Monte Rio, California. The Daedâlus Society in San Francisco, like its doppelganger the Bohemian Club, holds an annual summer encampment in the Grove, surrounded by redwoods and attended by high-muck-a-mucks from all quarters of economic and political power. It is an ambitious title. Skeen is hired to determine whether or not a plot to assassinate one of the attending politicians is afoot. Discovering a strange code used by the plotters, he untangles and foils the scheme and inadvertently kills the assassin. This denouement takes him back to the city, and he finishes the job. There are more murders, of course.
Cline’s novels, especially the Skeen novels, are not of our time, demonstrably not of our disposition and spirit, and serve to encourage the individualistic and stand-apart arrogance of a bygone time. Therefore, they should be banished, pushed to the side as pettifogging retorts to what must be said and has been said. His other two series, set in our own sorry time, feature private detective Chess Hanrahan, and Merritt Fury, a James Bond-like a fist-happy entrepreneur, set in New York City, are of the same ilk and laughable mettle. Skeen, Hanrahan, and Fury are supposed to be super heroes without capes or costumes or super powers, armed with only their “smarts” and their steroid-inflated egos. It’s a wonder they have any powers at all because they smoke and drink to distraction, which should leave modern readers clucking their tongues.
They all pursue what passes in their stories for truth, justice, and the “American” way. His sparse non-fiction titles, which are collections of columns from his blogs, are the author’s way of venting his cerebral spleen, inadequate as it might be, but nevertheless are dangerous to the happy, content health to the national commonwealth. Readers would be better off not knowing they exist.