Nov 212014
Originally appearing as a serial in Western Story in October and November of 1924 under the pseudonym John Frederick, this is more of a historical novel than a traditional Western. It seems to be Faust's attempt to cash in on the popularity of Johnston McCulley's character Zorro, who had been appearing in the pulps for several years previously. Set in Spanish California in 1817, the novel
Nov 142014
Cyclone Jim Gale is a former Texas Ranger turned rancher who has a spread in South Texas. When his teenage ward, Billy Drice, is kidnapped, Jim receives a ransom note telling him to bring $50,000 and head north along the road to Purgatory, an outlaw town in the Texas Panhandle. Jim sets off to follow the kidnappers' instructions, only to have them double-cross him and set off a shoot-out,
Nov 072014
(This post originally appeared in different form on April 25, 2005) Originally published by Phoenix Press in 1948, this is Peter Germano’s first novel under the pseudonym Barry Cord, and as far as I know, his first full-length novel overall, although his shorter fiction had been appearing in the Western pulps as far back as the mid-Thirties. Larry Brennan is the title character, who has
Oct 312014
Since today is Halloween, it seems appropriate to write something about the longest-running and many would say the best comic book series about a vampire ever published. I'm referring, of course, to Marvel's THE TOMB OF DRACULA, which ran for 70 issues from 1972 to 1979. Recently I've been reading THE ESSENTIAL TOMB OF DRACULA, VOLUME 1, which reprints in black-and-white the first 25 issues of
Oct 242014
(This post originally appeared in different form on April 25, 2005) By 1957, when this novel was originally published, Walt Coburn’s once-formidable talent had deteriorated due to age and drink until his output was very hit-and-miss. THE NIGHT BRANDERS, from the same era, is the worst Coburn novel I’ve read. But he was still capable of turning out a good story sometimes, and luckily, THE
Oct 172014
(This post originally appeared in somewhat different form on August 7, 2005) I’ve had two copies of this novel, the original paperback edition and a later edition, on my shelves for years, long enough that I don’t remember where or when I got them. This is a good hardboiled novel about Philadelphia private eye Bill Canalli, who goes to visit a girl in Chicago and winds up in the middle of a
Oct 102014
(This post originally appeared in somewhat different form on January 21, 2006) I’m on record as preferring Elmore Leonard’s early Westerns to his later crime novels, and LAST STAND AT SABER RIVER is a good reason why I feel that way. The set-up is fairly traditional: a former Confederate soldier returns home to Arizona Territory after being wounded and finds that Union sympathizers have taken
Oct 032014
(This post originally appeared in somewhat different form on September 9, 2005.) I first heard of Kinky Friedman back in the early Seventies, when my good friend Leland DeBusk got interested in the whole Cosmic Cowboy music scene in Austin. After that I was aware that the Kinkster started writing mystery novels, but I never read any of them. (I own several, though, and really need to get
Sep 262014
(This post originally appeared on September 7, 2006, in somewhat different form.) This is one of Ed Gorman’s earlier Westerns, originally published by Walker in 1992 under the pseudonym Christopher Keegan, then reprinted in paperback by Leisure in 1999 under Gorman’s name. But even if I had read the original edition without knowing who the author really was, I think I would have suspected
Sep 192014
(This post originally appeared on August 20, 2007) I’ve been a fan of Bill Pronzini’s work ever since I read his Man From U.N.C.L.E. novella “The Pillars of Salt Affair” in the MFU digest magazine sometime in the late Sixties. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that Pronzini had written that story. It was published under the house-name Robert Hart Davis, a tribute by publisher Leo Margulies