As a teenager, I was a fan of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series. Naturally I bought the tie-in novels as they came out. In the late sixties, when Don Pendleton started his Executioner series, I started buying them as well.
I followed Bolan’s one man war against the Mafia through thirty-six novels(Pendleton didn’t write the sixteenth, but that’s another story). After that, Pendleton sold the rights to Gold Eagle and Bolan moved into a different arena, abandoning the war against crime to one with the terrorists of the world. Gold Eagle hired a number of writers to continue Bolan’s adventures in a monthly series with several giant volumes a year.
One such writer was Peter Leslie, author of five Man and one Girl From U.N.C.L.E. novels. I continued to read and enjoy Bolan until I came upon the reason for this post.
I had started reading ANVIL OF HELL, a Mack Bolan giant when I realized it was strangely familiar. That was in April, 1988. I knew right away it was an U.N.C.L.E. novel and which one. THE RADIOACTIVE CAMEL AFFAIR was published in 1966 with Peter Leslie as author.
Gold Eagle’s Bolan novels all have Don Pendleton’s name on the cover. But the copyright page has the actual author’s name. When I checked, there was Peter Leslie.
I offer up below examples to show my point.
Page 183 of ANVIL OF HELL: Gold Eagle, 1988
The frontier was a collection of wooden huts straddling the dirt road; the border was defined by a barbed-wire fence interrupted by a striped pole with a counterweight at one end. Outside the hut nearest the highway, a squad of soldiers lounged by a trestle table, joking around with a handful of border guards. Soldiers and guards wore British-style khaki uniforms; all of them were African.
Mack Bolan slid the Land Rover to a halt in a cloud of dust and climbed out of the furnace heat.
Page 68 of THE RADIOACTIVE CAMEL AFFAIR: Ace Books, 1966
The frontier was a collection of wooden huts straddling the dust road; the border was a barbed wire fence interrupted by a striped pole with a counterweight on one end. Inside the hut nearest the highway, a platoon of soldiers lounged, exchanging pleasantries with the frontier guards. Both soldiers and guards wore British-style khaki uniforms-and all the men were Africans.
Illya slid the Landrover to a halt in a cloud of dust and climbed out onto the road.
The events were shuffled around in the books and Napoleon and Illya’s parts all became Mack Bolan.
I found another such rewritten book with DEAD MAN’S TALE and THE SPLINTERED SUNGLASSES AFFAIR, both works of Peter Leslie. I don’t know whether he did such rewriting with any of his other U.N.C.L.E. novels as I stopped reading Bolan at that point.
They were being advertised as never before published and were in fact twenty year old novels. I realize most Bolan readers might not know they were formally U.N.C.L.E. novels, but I had a problem with them.
And that’s how Napoleon and Illya turned into Mack Bolan.