Lewis B. Patten – Top Man With a Gun (1959)


Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #1
TBR #4
Monthly Key Word: Top
Date Finished: January 10, 2018

A teenager survives the massacre at Lawrence, Kansas in 1863, losing his father and sister to one of Quantrill’s Raiders. Fleeing with a Union Army deserter, he swears revenge upon that raider, but first must go through various experiences that help him grow into a man.

Lewis B. Patten is one of my favorite writers and this one is another exciting story that I did not want to put down. Patten has been mentioned in discussions online about Western Noir. I don’t think this novel has the necessary cynicism or fatalism, but it is a hard, action-packed story, written in a lean style, fitting well in the Fawcett Gold Medal line.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-01-10


Harry Whittington – High Fury (1964)


Date Finished: November 9, 2016
TBR #73

A innocent but still wanted man, on the trail of a man who could clear him of murder, discovers a girl raped and abandoned in the wilderness. Bringing her back to town, he discovers that the man he is after may be responsible for crimes against the girl. Well done western, though not too out of the ordinary in the plotting.

Eugene Cunningham – Pistol Passport (1936)


Date Finished: August 30, 2016
TBR #65.5

This one bogged me down in a reading funk, or at least had me reading comics and other things rather than novels. The story isn’t too bad, though not groundbreaking in any way. A former Texas Ranger is convicted of murder, but escapes before his death sentence can be carried out. Riding through ranch country on his way to Mexico, he becomes involved with a range war, eventually being hired on at a neutral ranch caught between four feuding ranches, two on each side. There are ranch owners and gunmen for each of these parties, plus train robbers, lawmen, and others, so it all gets a bit confusing. Perhaps all this backtracking to remember who was who bogged me down. I pushed through on the last 70 pages in one sitting and it finished well, wrapping up all the loose ends with convenient shoot-outs. James Reasoner has a better summary.

The copyright renewals from 1963 list the original date as 2 January 1936 and it looks like Houghton Mifflin published it in hardcover that year. It was also published in Complete Western Book Magazine in July 1936, but the title was changed to “Killer!” for some reason. My paperback copy, above, turned out to be missing a number of pages, so the digital pulp version helped fill in that gap.


Frank O’Rourke – Battle Royal (1956)


Category: Dell
Date Finished: November 26, 2015

A very enjoyable, humorous western, with an army scout undercover in a mining town, exposing the gang that is robbing departing miners of their riches. The reveal of the ultimate mastermind is a bit obvious, but the wittiness of the hero, especially his asides in Spanish and French during his rousing address to the town, translated in full at the end, is very enjoyable. It is surprising that this is so unknown. Only two members on LibraryThing own this work, me and Ernest Hemingway. Great minds and all that.


William Hopson – High Saddle (1952)


Category: Set Outside Texas
Date Finished: November 25, 2015

A loner, a white boy raised by Indians, tracks the killer of his sister. They travel through the desert, down into Mexico, all the while dealing with Apaches and a gang of misfits who think there is a bounty on the killer. Can the gang cooperate enough to deal with the Apaches? Unlikely. This was quite well-done, with strong characters and action. Hopson writes quite well and the feeling is more of a 1970s hard-edged movie, rather than a 1952 hardcover western.


Steven G. Lawrence – Longhorns North (1962)

AceF164-1 Longhorns North

Category: About Cowboys
Date Finished: November 24, 2015

The other half of the Ace Double with Slattery’s Gun Says No, this one immediately following the preceding novel as Slattery is now on the cattle drive for which he was preparing in the last. A gang of rustlers attempts to steal the herd. Slattery must stop them while helping some ranchers who were first hit by the gang. Despite all the westerns about cowboys, there aren’t that many where they are actually on a cattle drive. Not deep, but fast reading and entertaining.

Steven G. Lawrence – Slattery’s Gun Says No (1962)

AceF164-2 Slatterys Gun Says No

Category: Transportation related
Date Finished: November 22, 2015

After the last one, the Silver Desert, being a literary western, this one is back to being a straight action story. It turns out that it isn’t very memorable either, as I appear to have read it before in 2007. Slattery arrives aboard a train that also carries a rich couple and their daughter. The daughter is soon captured and held for ransom, while Slattery is suspected of being in the gang and needs to free her to prove his own innocence. Adequate.