Dudley Dean – Song of the Gun (1955)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #23
TBR #110
Date Finished: November 2, 2018

Rancher Carse Boling, minority owner in a Dakota cattle ranch, has to face his partner over rumors regarding Carse and his partner’s wife. Spreading those rumors is a shady cattle dealer, his gunman partner, and the rest of the town. Meanwhile the partner is being blackmailed by those shady characters over a death sentence that he has been on the run from for many years. Carse has to straighten out his feelings for the partner’s wife, as well as for the sister of the shady cattle dealer, while combating all these factions.

I found this to be quite enjoyable, with a better-than-average number of female characters, four, than many other westerns from this period. Dean is a solid-enough writer to make this story move along quickly, fitting well in the Gold Medal style of tough, fast-paced action.


Bradford Scott – The Masked Riders (1962)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #22
Monthly Key Word: Mask
TBR #109
Date Finished: October 30, 2018

Walt Slade rides into another Texas town to straighten it up. Here his nemesis Veck Sosna is running another plot to do something. What that is isn’t entirely clear, but it involves attempts on Slade’s life, a mine, and trouble. Slade solves the trouble, makes friends, and finds a girl, as he always seems to do. A forerunner of the adult westerns of the 1970s and later, these only hint at sex between characters, but it is a pretty clear hint. The writing is adequate, though not outstanding, and the Slade character is without flaws. Perhaps I shouldn’t read two of these so close together, but this one was a bit of a dull read.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-10-30

Walt Coburn – The Night Branders (1956)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #21
Monthly Key Word: Night
TBR #108
Date Finished: October 26, 2018

Tom Stroud, seeking revenge for his father and brother, hires on secretly with the rustling and smuggling gang that killed them. Eventually taking sides with their Mexican rancher supplier, they fight together to get redemption and justice.

I was hoping that this would be faster moving than it was. While still entertaining, it never gripped me enough to keep picking it up. I can’t say that anything was wrong with the plot, characters or writing quality, and I was entertained enough when I did read it, but nothing stood out either.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-10-26

Bradford Scott – The Ghost Trail (1964)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #20
Monthly Key Word: Ghost
TBR #107
Date Finished: October 20, 2018

Texas Ranger Walt Slade, aka El Halcon or The Hawk, arrives in the town of Cienaga to investigate killings, lootings, and rustlings, all of which turns out to be related to an ancient gold mine guarded by a ghost in an old Spanish mission.

I like a good treasure hunt story, and this one starts out fairly well in that vein. Ha. It eventually reverts back to standard rustlers and cattlemen, and the ghost angle isn’t very large, but still moderately entertaining. Walt Slade is a bit too good to be true, a hero without faults, that seems out-of-date for 1962, but fairly common for pulp heroes.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-10-20

Kenneth Robeson – Devil on the Moon (1938)


Vintage Pulp reprint
Monthly Key Word: Moon
TBR #106
Date Finished: October 18, 2018

Doc Savage fights sinister foreign powers in disguise and then in the open with his team, as the foreign agents take them to a prison on the moon.

The story opens with outside parties in danger with the foreign spies, but those characters never quite connected, while the later action supposedly on the moon was rather weak. I always expect these to be better than they are.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-10-18

Ernest Haycox – Guns Up (1954)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #19
TBR #105
Date Finished: October 16, 2018

short_stories_19280825Collecting two novellas by Ernest Haycox, this volume features “Guns Up” from the August 25, 1928 issue of Short Stories and “The Hour of Fury” from the April 1, 1933 issue of Argosy.

“Guns Up” tells of two feuding families who control a ranching valley. The families have had a truce for years, but one group turns on their own family members, as well as the opposing family, to further their own interests. The reluctant sheriff, a member of the opposing family, who of course falls in love with a girl from the first family, does his best to preserve peace but fights when necessary.

In “The Hour of Fury” a quiet man comes to town, trying to escape his gunfighter reputation, but soon has to clean out the bad element, rescuing a young woman in the process.

The first story is much more memorable and exciting, with Haycox’s usual quality writing. The second is half as long and not quite so memorable, as I had to page through it again here to remember the plot. Of course, some of the elements were old hat by the time these were published in book form in the 1950s, but Haycox was the one who put many of these cliches in place.

Day Keene – Guns Along the Brazos (1967)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #18
TBR #104
Date Finished: October 13, 2018

A Confederate doctor, now dissolute in Mexico after returning home to Texas after the war and finding his wife unfaithful, is sought out by a Northerner who now owns the Texas ranch next to his. The doctor’s wife is attempting to split Texas into several new states, one of which she intends to control and use to make herself rich. The Northerner and a young Mexican lady break the doctor out of prison and journey back to Texas, where they face a big showdown with the scheming wife.

Day Keene makes an unusual departure from his usual crime novels to tell this western story, which is entertaining, if not outstanding. It certainly kept my interest even if it doesn’t live up to expectations.