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.


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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