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Full Name: Canyon O'Grady
Nationality: American
Organization: Presidential Agent
Occupation Agent

Creator: Jon Sharpe
Time Span: 1989 - 1993


Canyon O'Grady is an agent for the U.S. President.

Taking place in the pre-Civil War days of America, largely in the western territories and newly formed states though occasionally heading east and more than once south of the border, O'Grady is dispatched wherever the Chief Executive feels he is needed. O'Grady claims on more than one occasion that he answers to no one other than the top man.

As written in the blurb of the first recorded adventure, he "is a special agent of the U.S. government, appointed by the President himself. But the only badge he wears is the Colt at his side and the Henry in his saddle holster as he rides the roughest trails in the West."

O'Grady is not the only operative answering solely to the President. There were, according to the 15th man to hold that office, James Buchanan, there were a "half-dozen men who carry the title of U.S. government agent". O'Grady, obviously, was one of them and he had been one for some time before he actually met Buchanan. As O'Grady points out in one recollection, Buchanan had called O'Grady to the White House to meet him specifically because he had been told that O'Grady "was one of the best". O'Grady's recorded adventures will continue into the term of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

O'Grady goes to some length at times to let people know that he is not a U.S. Marshall. People in those roles are tasked with enforcing the law while a Presidential special agent has the responsibility for getting the 'job', whatever that may be, done to the President's satisfaction. Further, most marshals have a designated area to patrol. O'Grady goes wherever he is told to or needs to in order to accomplish his mission.

To the best I can discern, O'Grady's first name is not nickname but his actual given one. As he admits when a young lady comments on it being an unusual name, "It is that, and I'm an unusual fellow". He is a very educated man, of Irish descent being "conceived in Ireland and born in America".

O'Grady has no one place to call home and no one person to go home to. He travels as work requires and takes the comfort of many a lovely lady in all parts of the continent.


Number of Books:27
First Appearance:1989
Last Appearance:1993

Note: this intel regarding this series, including the identity of what authors wrote what books, comes from the wisdom and excellent research found in the podcast of the Paperback Warrior, one of my favorite sources of great reviews and scuttlebutt. Thank you, Eric and Tom, for your continued hard work.

     The publishing giant Signet hit the motherlode in 1980 when it came out with the first of its incredibly popular and long lasting The Trailsman series. Though it was penned initially and for some time by the very talented Jon Messman, it used as the author a house name of Jon Sharpe so that other authors could, and did, join in the work. The series would run 398 regular adventures plus a half dozen 'giant' ones.

     Wanting to capitalize on the success of that pseudonym, it again went to Mr. Messmann for a new series. He came up with Canyon O'Grady. In a tried and true television method of launching a new series, O'Grady was really a spin-off from The Trailsman having been introduced in #87 of that series. Several books later in the O'Grady timeline, O'Grady would meet up with that fellow, Skye Fargo, yet again for another team-up.

     While O'Grady would not last anywhere as long as the other one did, it would stick around for over two dozen stories, not an unimpressive goal.

Note: with the except of the crossover books with The Trailsman, the O'Grady adventures are all stand-alone and can be read in any order. Even in the case of these crossovers, while reading #87 before #100 is better for continuity, it does not matter much what order you take them.

1 Brothel Bullets Brothel Bullets
Written by Jon Messmann
Copyright: 1989

Book #87 in The Trailsman series
Skye Fargo, aka The Trailsman, is hired by a rich man named Hatchfield to rescue his two daughters. They had been kidnapped by a gang of vicious gunmen who found that the skin trade was a very lucrative and usually painless (for them) line of work. Along the way Fargo will meet and team up with Canyon O'Grady who had been on the trail of this same bunch of outlaws.

2 Dead Men's Trails Dead Men's Trails

Copyright: 1989

Book #1 in the Canyon O'Grady series
Canyon O'Grady is ordered by the President to solve the mystery of the death of explorer Meriweather Lewis. Did Lewis kill himself like many thought or was he killed to keep from revealing what happened to a fortune in Louisiana gold. 

3 Silver Slaughter Silver Slaughter

Copyright: 1989

Book #2 in the Canyon O'Grady series
Someone is stealing a lot of silver on a regular basis and is hurting the U.S. government. Canyon O'Grady is sent west to track down where the theft is occurring and to bring it to an end.

4 Machine Gun Madness Machine Gun Madness

Copyright: 1989

Book #3 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady matches wits with a host of adversaries--from foreign agents to Southern malcontents--as he seeks to protect Hirum Merchant, Merchant's lovely daughter, and his deadly new invention."

5 Shadow Guns Shadow Guns

Copyright: 1989

Book #4 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Ordered by the White House to keep a pro-slavery candidate from fixing border-state Missouri's election, Canyon O'Grady encounters gun fire and a double-cross from two sensual sisters out for his body."

6 The Lincoln Assignment The Lincoln Assignment

Copyright: 1990

Book #5 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady is bedded and bloodied, respectively, by a sexy spitfire and three cold-blooded killers who are out to change the course of American history by detouring Abe Lincoln's presidential campaign to the graveyard."

7 Comstock Crazy Comstock Crazy

Copyright: 1990

Book #6 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady hits Virginia City with one thing on his mind--avenging an unspeakable slaying." Also: "After silver is discovered in Virginia City, the greed of one man, Ed Moudry, requires special agent Canyon O'Grady to stop the insane violence by any means."

8 Riverboat Gold Riverboat Gold
Written by Jon Messmann
Copyright: 1990

Book #100 in The Trailsman series
Another crossover adventure between Canyon O'Grady and Skye Fargo, aka The Trailsman, this book has them meeting on riverboat. Fargo is there to stop a raiding party of Indians from stealing the grain shipment onboard, which would bankrupt the boat's captain. O'Grady is undercover as a gambler out to stop British gold from being smuggled into the Confederacy to aid their war efforts.

9 The King of Colorado The King of Colorado

Copyright: 1990

Book #7 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady must track down a renegade army colonel who has procured a private reserve of stolen riches and declared himself King of Colorado."

10 Bleeding Kansas Bleeding Kansas

Copyright: 1990

Book #8 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"As the Kansas Territory prepares for statehood, special agent Canyon O'Grady is sent in to restore order as the slaveowners and abolitionists battle for control of the region."

11 Counterfeit Madam Counterfeit Madam

Copyright: 1990

Book #9 in the Canyon O'Grady series
Canyon O'Grady heads to the town of Stillwater looking for the source of a lot of phony government bonds. What he finds there is a lumber war going on as well as a 'scarlet woman' with several varied desires.

12 The Great Land Swindle The Great Land Swindle

Copyright: 1990

Book #10 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Through a chance meeting with his old buddy Paddy McNamara, lawman Canyon O'Grady learns of a plot involving an assassination, and soon he is hot on the trail of the conspirators."

13 Soldier's Song Soldier's Song

Copyright: 1991

Book #11 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"When someone gives the Comanche Indians government-issue guns, leading to a rise in fatalities among cavalry troopers, Canyon O'Grady goes undercover as an Army colonel to ferret out the traitor."

14 Railroad Renegades Railroad Renegades

Copyright: 1991

Book #12 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"A motley crew of assassins known as the Blue Goose Gang plans to cut short the new President's career with a bullet, and it is up to Canyon O'Grady to protect the chief executive as he rides the rails to a meeting with fate."

15 Assassin's Trail Assassin's Trail

Copyright: 1991

Book #13 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Cutting through Blackfoot territory while on the trail of a ring of assassins, special agent Canyon O'Grady dodges bullets and arrows to stay alive."

16 Colonel Death Colonel Death

Copyright: 1991

Book #14 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady returns to prevent a deranged U.S. Cavalry colonel from committing more atrocities south of the Rio Grande, but matters become complicated, and explosive, when a female spitfire and murderous banditos hunt O'Grady."

17 Death Ranch Death Ranch

Copyright: 1991

Book #15 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Unwilling to accept the outcome of the Civil War, a Confederate guerrilla gathers together a private army and rides roughshod over ranchers, and U.S. special agent O'Grady must stop them."

18 Blood and Gold Blood and Gold

Copyright: 1991

Book #16 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"U.S. Special Agent Canyon O'Grady sets out to track down four Civil War profiteers and finds himself tangling with a lethal female, a government traitor who could expose him, and an army of assassins."

19 The Killer's Club The Killer's Club

Copyright: 1992

Book #17 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"President Lincoln hires a fast-shooting maverick to unmask and dismember a secret society in Illinois bent on evil and assassination."

20 Blood Bounty Blood Bounty

Copyright: 1992

Book #18 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Canyon O'Grady trades in his ten-gallon hat for city duds as he heads into the Big Apple, following the bloody trail of the men who murdered his buddy, Del Locken, in cold blood in Kansas."

21 Rio Grande Ransom Rio Grande Ransom
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1992

Book #19 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Hired by a wealthy man to rescue a kidnapped woman, special agent Canyon O'Grady heads south with a band of hired guns to confront the savage, cagey Mexican rebel leader who holds the woman and is demanding a ransom."

22 California Vengeance California Vengeance
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1992

Book #20 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Hired to track down the five outlaws who killed ruthless banker Henry Arnold's son, Canyon O'Grady begins his mission, eager to complete it and free the little lady whom Arnold is holding hostage."

23 Wyoming Conspiracy Wyoming Conspiracy
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1992

Book #21 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Searching for the truth behind the death of a cattle baron with many lovers and many enemies, U.S. Special Agent Canyon O'Grady becomes involved with the dead man's dangerous daughter and caught in a labyrinth of lies."

24 Colorado Ambush Colorado Ambush
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1992

Book #22 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Accompanied by an ex-sheriff who is determined to prove his manhood and a lawman desperate to keep his job, Canyon O'Grady heads from Colorado to Texas to catch the vicious January gang."

25 Louisiana Gold Race Louisiana Gold Race
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1993

Book #23 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"Special agent Canyon O'Grady arrives in New Orleans in search of a hoard of gold hidden by Southerners ripe for rebellion."

26 Chicago Six-Guns Chicago Six-Guns
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1993

Book #24 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"U.S. Special Agent Canyon O'Grady matches wits with a competitive female Pinkerton agent as they both pursue a vicious gang of train-robbers."

27 Rocky Mountain Feud Rocky Mountain Feud
Written by Robert J. Randisi
Copyright: 1993

Book #25 in the Canyon O'Grady series
"En route to the Rocky Mountains by order of his chief, U.S. Special Agent Canyon O'Grady must face off against a land grabber when a raging range war breaks out."


Over a half century ago when I was learning to love spy fiction, I was also very much into Westerns. Names like Louis L'Amour and Luke Short were sure to catch my eye. I read a fair amount of Zane Grey and Max Brand, of course (still rank Destry Rides Again as one of my all-time favorites). I also adored Elmore Leonard and Frank O'Rouke as well as a few dozen whose names I cannot recall so quickly.

In the mid 70s, I was shocked to see the new style of Westerns like Edge - and fascinated - I read a bunch of those. They helped usher in the days of the Adult Western which I greeted with some skepticism. Mind you, having read everything Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann wrote, the sex in these new type of adventures did not shock me or upset me. It was just that the sex scenes were so "obligatory". They so often disrupted the storyline and added nothing. Once in a while the scenes were titillating but for the most part, I was not a fan.

That having been stated, many of the different series had a lot to offer in the form of good stories being told by good writers. I liked The Trailsman and The Gunsmith, to name a couple. And the handful of Canyon O'Grady adventures that I tried out fit that category. I enjoyed reading about this red-headed government agent quite a bit and would love it if they ever made it into ebook format (they won't because their publishing house owners are ... ah, do not get me started).

Mine you, O'Grady can get irksome at times and I am certain that should we actually meet, we would not be best buddies. But reading about him sure is a hoot.


My Grade: B


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