I found an interesting book today ... I'd never heard of it before, but plucked it from the library store's shelves due to its mysterious title: The 25th Man.
Initially thinking it was some work of vintage sci-fi, I opened it to read the full title: The Twenty-Fifth Man: The Strange Story of Ed. Morrell, the Hero of Jack London's Star Rover by Ed . Morrell, Lone Survivor of the Famous Band of California Feud Outlaws.
Band of Outlaws??? This was getting more and more intriguing. I had already decided to purchase the book when I discovered a lengthy inscription on the free front endpaper.
An inked signature and date of 1924 were also written on the frontispiece.
After I brought the book home, I learned this about Ed Morrell (courtesy of Wikipedia):
Edward H. "Ed" Morrell (October 22, 1868 – November 10, 1946) was an accomplice to the Evans and Sontag gang that robbed the Southern Pacific Railroad in California's San Joaquin Valley in the 1890s. According to his memoir, "The 25th Man", the robberies were revenge for the large railroad corporation's mistreatment of local ranchers of the San Joaquin Valley. Morrell was sentenced to life imprisonment in Folsom State Prison in 1894. He was eventually transferred to San Quentin (1899 at the latest), and pardoned in 1908. Five of his years were spent in solitary confinement, he was known as the Dungeon Man of San Quentin. Author Jack London championed his pardon; and Morrell became a frequent guest at London's Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, California. London used Morrell as a character in his 1915 novel The Star Rover.
Morrell had been subjected to severe physical abuse in prison. After his release, he lectured widely on his experiences and advocated prison reform. He lectured with former San Quentin prisoner and author, Donald Lowrie. Morrell's lectures included addresses to the California and Pennsylvania legislatures. He advocated the abolition of corporal punishment. In 1914, he wrote a one-act play, The Incorrigible, based on his experiences (and one of his nicknames). In 1924, he published his memoirs, The 25th Man: The Strange Story of Ed. Morrell, the Hero of Jack London's Star Rover.
(End of excerpt)
I did a little cursory research to see if I could discover the identity of the mysterious John Milne to whom the inscription is addressed, but no luck.
So, my question to my esteemed bookseller colleagues and mystery aficionados is this: Does anyone have any inkling of a clue as to the identity of John L. Milne and his connection to Ed Morrell?
Thanks for any info or lucky guesses!
The author thinks not--but do any booksellers want to test the theory (or already have)?