Ernest Haycox – The Silver Desert (1935)

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Western
Category: Set in “Modern” Times
Date Finished: November 21, 2015

First published in 1935, this western is set in that time period, with the heroine, Lily Tennant, a brand-new movie star, escape to Reno for rest and relaxation, while trying to determine whether she wants fame and stardom or not. While there, she meets a strong-willed rancher, Tom Sebastian, who owns a vast ranch north of Reno. There isn’t a lot of typical western action here, but some examination of the themes of wilderness and independence vs. modern society. Naturally the wilderness wins out, though there are despicable characters in both realms. There is a sense of melancholy, especially in the early chapters, that I enjoyed. Definitely a much more literary western than most.
Westerns2015-11-21

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Nelson Nye – Hideout Mountain (1962)

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Western
Category: Borrowed
Date Finished: November 19, 2015

Although this is a short novel, half of an Ace Double with Nye’s Rafe, at only 91 pages, it was difficult to get into it. Perhaps there are too many characters for which there is not enough information, but I kept getting confused as to who was who. There isn’t all that much action to take up the space, but the characterization there is just doesn’t work. I don’t remember any similar difficulties with other Nye works I’ve read, so I assume that this was just an aberration.

Westerns2015-11-19

W.C. Tuttle – Tumbling River Range (1929)

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Western
Category: Body of Water in Title
Date Finished: November 18, 2015

W.C. Tuttle is definitely unappreciated and one of my favorite writers. He is able to blend action, mystery, and humor in ways that many cannot, especially the humor. Tumbling River Range is a Hashknife and Sleepy mystery, but they don’t appear until 50 pages in. The characters and situation are all well drawn. The mystery doesn’t quite develop as well, but still a fun read.

Westerns2015-11-18

Jonas Ward – Buchanan Says No (1957)

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Western
Category: Author Not Read Before
Date Finished: November 14, 2015

A quick read, this series of Buchanan novels was started by William Ard and continued by others after his death. Randolph Scott starred in the film version of one, and I could picture Scott as Buchanan while reading this one. Buchanan is a likable drifter who is tough and powerful when he needs to be, somewhat like Scott. Unpaid after a long cattle drive, Buchanan and a partner attempt to get payment from the owners in the town of Bella, but ended up on opposite sides of a dispute.

Westerns2015-11-14b

Alan LeMay – Winter Range (1932)

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Western
Category: Published in 1930s
Date Finished: November 14, 2015

Frustratingly talky, with the main female character full of lies andĀ  cover ups. There are so many conversations about how she can’t tell this or that. She’s not the only one. Why is her father acting so strange? Because he believes one character is the killer and never talks or reveals enough to find out the truth.

As the sheriff says toward the end, “You’ve talked all around and about, and over the bush. And you end up with nothing more to the point than a cheap brawl. You’ve wasted enough words to–.”

This is a mystery as much as it is a western, though it keeps all the western trappings. It is set in modern times, at least mentioning cars and telephones a couple of times, but little else setting it in the 1930s rather than the 1880s.

LeMay has written classics, but this is an early work.

Westerns2015-11-14a

Sam Bowie – Canyon War (1969)

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Western
Category: Published in the 1960s
Date Finished: November 9, 2015

The other half of the Ace Double with The Hooded Gun, this was written by Todhunter Ballard under his Sam Bowie pseudonym. I read one of his mysteries earlier this year and it was quite well done, too. This one takes a somewhat different plotĀ turn than many westerns. A carefree cowhand and drifter takes action to defend a clan of hillbilly types, who are being blamed for cattle rustling and other activities in an effort to run them out of the country. The hillbillies are supposed to be German immigrants, which doesn’t fit historically, but it is rare to have any sort of immigrants included in these westerns.

Westerns2015-11-09

Clay Ringold – The Hooded Gun (1969)

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Western
Category: About Revenge
Date Finished: November 7, 2015

Sure, a lot of these westerns are about revenge. Someone comes back to town to regain the ranch lost to the newly arrived bad guy. This one isn’t much different, but it is solidly written. Clay Ringold was really Ray Hogan, who wrote many, many quality westerns. And this was only 94 pages, so who can complain?

Westerns2015-11-07