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Full Name: Steve Cowan
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Army Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Louis L'Amour
Time Span: 1942 - 2004


Steve Cowan is an agent with U.S. Army Intelligence.

He is first and foremost a pilot and that is all he wants to be; he has no interest in the spy game whatsoever and has been happy hauling cargo all across Southeast Asia since he decided years before the South Pacific was where he should ply his trade. He first came to this tropical, steamy part of the world in 1937 and would have continued to make his living bouncing on the usually dusty runways while not getting involved in politics or international troubles, had he been allowed, flying express cargo and mail all over the thousands of islands in that region using his amphibian plane.

Unfortunately, the arrival in the area of the Japanese has made that a moot point, especially for an American, and from the time that nation invaded Indochina in 1940, finding steady work was impossible. This is likely one of the reasons he had offered his services to the British in New Caledonia even before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

British Major Garnett was the Military Intelligence officer who first approaches Cowan to lend a bit of assistance. "You're a civilian," he says to Cowan, "but you volunteered for duty" and now there is need of someone with his flying skills and his fair knowledge of the region below Sumatra. It would be after that first mission for Garnett that Cowan made it official and was given a commission as he "acted as a secret messenger and undercover agent for the Allies".

Cowan has his personal nemesis in the form of Besi John Mataga, a "renegade" in Cowan's opinion, when he is being polite. In the two short adventures we have of Cowan he has had the misfortune of going up against that particularly unpleasant and vicious man twice. Luckily, Cowan is partial to having personal protection available at all times, this coming in the form of a .45 Colt automatic in his belt and a .38 "strapped to his lef inside his trousers", and with Mataga cropping up now and then, both are much in need.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1986
Last Appearance:2004

1 Night Over The Solomons Night Over The Solomons
Written by Louis L'Amour
Copyright: 1986

A collection of six novelettes/short stories including one Steve Cowan story:
Mission To Siberut
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2 From The Listening Hills From The Listening Hills
Written by Louis L'Amour
Copyright: 2004

A collection of twelve stories, one of which was a Steve Cowan story:
Down Paagumene Way
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3 The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour - Volume 4: The Adventure Stories The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour - Volume 4: The Adventure Stories
Written by Louis L'Amour
Copyright: 2004

A huge collection of all of Louis L'Amour's Adventure short stories. This includes both Steve Cowan tales:
Mission To Siberut
Down Paagumene Way
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Number of Stories:2
First Appearance:1942
Last Appearance:1949

1 Mission To Siberut Mission To Siberut
Written by Louis L'Amour
Copyright: 1942

First published in Thrilling Adventures, October 1942. Reprinted in Night over the Solomons and  The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Vol 4.
"Steve Cowan flies north from Port Darwin, Australia in an attempt to destroy a shipload of fighter planes that is being brokered to the Japanese.  A modern day pirate, Besi John Mataga, hijacked the freighter on it’s way from Germany to Japan with a sample shipment of fighter aircraft.  In a move of nearly insane recklessness, Mataga is offering to ransom the planes back to the Japanese, unless Cowan can stop the shipment. Allied intelligence believes it knows where the ship is hidden and it’s a race against time for the Japanese are both searching for their stolen shipment and negotiating to pay the ransom."

2 Down Paagumene Way Down Paagumene Way
Written by Louis L'Amour
Copyright: 1949

First published in Sky Fighters, March 1949. Reprinted in From the Listening Hills and The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Vol 4.
"Steve Cowan is waiting for a refit of his plane that will allow him to fly home to the United States when he catches wind of a plot … his old nemesis Besi John Mataga has the hijack of a convoy of ore carriers and the theft of a classified shipping list in mind.  Both will be brokered to a Japanese agent but first the list must be stolen from the Oland Point home of the local Port Captain and his sister, a refugee and one time movie star, Isola Mayne. Before John Mataga can be counted out he must be run to ground and the only information Cowan has is the mustering point for one of the ships and the Japanese; Neangambo island in Nehue Bay."


The two tales of Steve Cowan are not really enough to get much of a sense of the man. He does have a thick skin because when a young woman all but calls him a coward in the first adventure, he grins and moves the conversation along. He also has a thick skull because he gets bonked on it a fair number of times, which would be bad overall for his health but luckily he is not adverse to bonking other fellows on their noggins first.

These are very entertaining stories and being short as they are, quickly consumed. And as with most things written by Louis L'Amour, even these in his early writing days, they are a lot of fun to read.


My Grade: B


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