ROBERT CRANE – The Sergeant and the Queen.

Pyramid R-1012; paperback original. First printing: May 1964.

   Some information about the author first, shall we? He’s not a name known to me, nor is this a book I bought in 1964, even though I bought a lot of Pyramid’s back then. But from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, comes the following:

CRANE, ROBERT; pseudonym of Con Sellers, (1922-1992); other pseudonyms Ric Arana & Ladd E. Linsley.

      Sgt. Corbin’s War. Pyramid, 1964. [Ben Corbin; Korea]
      # The Sergeant and the Queen. Pyramid, 1964. [Ben Corbin; Korea]
      Operation Vengeance. Pyramid, 1965. [Ben Corbin; Tokyo]
      Strikeback! Pyramid, 1965. [Korea]
      # The Paradise Trap. Pyramid, 1967. [Ben Corbin; Hawaii]

ROBERT CRANE Paradise Trap

      # Tongue of Treason. Pyramid, 1967. [Ben Corbin; California]
      Time Running Out. Papillon, 1974. [Ben Corbin; Tokyo]
      Out of Time. Decade, 1980; reprint of Time Running Out (Papillon 1974).

SELLERS, CON(nie Leslie, Jr.) (1922-1992); see pseudonyms Ric Arana, Robert Crane & Ladd E. Linsley.

      The Algerian Incident. Powell, 1970. [Algeria]

CON SELLERS The Algerian Incident.

ARANA, RIC; pseudonym of Con Sellers, (1922-1992); other pseudonyms Robert Crane & Ladd E. Linsley.

      The Silent Seducers. Challenge, 1967.
      Big Dano. Powell, 1969. [California]

LINSLEY, LADD E.; pseudonym of Con Sellers, (1922-1992); other pseudonyms Ric Arana & Robert Crane.

      Widow for Hire. Powell, 1969.

   The books I own are the ones with indicated with a #. I thought I had a large paperback collection, and I am not greatly impressed at how low the percentage is of these that I have. There is obviously some work to be done by me as far as Mr. Sellers’ books are considered. (I also do not recall ever have seen a book published by Decade. This is something else that will have to be looked into.)

   From Contemporary Authors comes a partial list of more fiction (I think), but none of them crime related. These, unless indicated otherwise, are under his own name:

F.S.C.: The Shocking Story of a Probable America, Novel Books, 1963.
Too Late the Hero, Pyramid Books, 1970.
Dallas (novel adapted from the TV series), Dell, 1978. (Under the pseudonym of Lee Raintree.)


Bed of Strangers, Dell, 1978. (With Anthony Wilson)
Marilee, Pocket Books, 1978.
Sweet Caroline, Pocket Books, 1979.
The Last Flower, Pocket Books, 1979.
Since You’ve Been Gone, Jove Books, 1980.
Keepers of the House, Pocket Books, 1983.

CON SELLERS Keepers of the House.

This Promised Earth, Bantam, 1985.
The Black Magnolia, Bantam, 1986.
Trouble in Mind, Bantam, 1986.
Mansei!, Bantam, 1987.
Those Frightened Years, Bantam, 1988.
Brothers in Battle, Pocket Books, 1989.
“Men at Arms” series, four books, Pocket Books, 1991-1992.

   CA also says: “Con Sellers was a prolific writer who produced over 100 novels under a wide range of pseudonyms, including Robert Crane and Lee Raintree. His subjects ranged from pornography to romance, science fiction to war.”

   Mr. Sellers is also quoted thusly: “The most important step in my career was finding my agent, Jane Rotrosen Berkey. Until she took me in hand, I had never gotten more than $3,000 advance; now we talk $100,000.”

   Nice work, and not bad, considering he started with Novel Books, the lowest of the lows, but if his work sold, which it appears it did, he was worth every cent of it. Before turning to writing, using the GI bill as a stepping stone, he was in the military with the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1956; earned more than forty awards, including French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge with Star, and Purple Heart.

   I thought Sellers’s army service was worth a mention, if only because The Sergeant and the Queen could have been written only by someone in the army, someone who’s been there, knows what it’s like to give orders, take orders, and what it’s like to fight along those who are not ready to be there — kids in a man’s army. This latter theme resonates clearly throughout the book.

ROBERT CRANE Sgt and the Queen.

   The plot of which is rather slim, to say the least. A word first about Ben Corbin, though. I’ve not read the first book he was in, obviously, since I don’t have a copy, but there’s little need to, since his life story is thoroughly gone over in this one. Born in Korea, the son of a fire-and-brimstone Christian minister to that country, Ben Corbin turned instead to the military rather than religion for his own life’s work. Marrying a Korean woman was also what helped turn his life around, transforming him into one of that country’s greatest heroes — with most of his feats accomplished while deeply undercover — a man of legendary fighting abilities, and all aimed to the good of his adopted land.

   The plan in The Sergeant and the Queen, on the part of Corbin and a handful of others, is to bring in the granddaughter of the last empress of Korea to unite the country, a land torn through the middle after the conflict involving China and the UN, and still very much on edge. What the conspirators do not plan on, however, is how greatly attractive Helen Min finds Ben Corbin to be, and even though he is happily married, how little he is able to resist.

   Corbin fights many personal battles in this book, and whenever he does, the book’s forward motion slows to a near crawl. Those who bought this book in 1964 for the action will have found it — when aroused, Ben Corbin is a veritable one-man army, there’s no denying that. But I wonder what they made of the book’s true strength, the portrayal of a man fighting himself, the memories of his father, and a woman who seems to have her way with him, much of it through his own badly conflicted thoughts and emotions.

   A surprising book, in other words, and one not at all what I expected. A minor if not negligible book in the overall scheme of things, but on its own terms? Five stars out of five.