Jan 232015
 
This book begins by dropping us right in the middle of the problems faced by rancher Clay Tennant. Clay's brother Frank has inherited the family ranch following their father's death, leaving Clay with only a single section of land where he's trying to build up a herd. Naturally, this results in a lot of friction between the brothers. On the side, Clay works for Parr Battles and Ed Blount,
Jan 162015
 
I felt like reading an Orrie Hitt novel since it had been a while, and I picked a really good one in THE SUCKER. It's written to the usual Hitt formula, but also as usual, he finds ways to change things up enough to keep the story fresh and interesting. I thought this was going to be a car racing book at first—some of the back-story concerns how one of the female characters winds up in
Jan 092015
 
I have to admire Murray Leinster. He was writing science fiction before the term existed. But he also wrote mystery, adventure, and Western yarns for the pulps. He wrote movie novelizations. Late in his career he wrote TV tie-in paperback novels. He wrote a little bit of everything for more than fifty years and did it well. He's remembered mostly for his science fiction, though, and
Jan 022015
 
For my first Forgotten Book of the new year, we've got another old favorite author of mine whose work I've been reading since high school. Frank Kane has come in for a good deal of criticism over the years because of the formulaic nature of his books and his tendency to cannibalize his earlier work, but for some reason his private eye yarns nearly always resonate well with me. They're
Dec 262014
 
We wrap up the Forgotten Books series for another year with an old favorite of mine, an author I've been reading for close to 50 years. In the early Sixties, when I was volunteering in the local public library, I came across some Western paperbacks that looked interesting in a batch of books somebody had donated. They were about a Texas Ranger named Walt Slade, and they were written by an
Dec 192014
 
CHRISTMAS AT THE RANCH is a collection of three autobiographical essays by Elmer Kelton that was published in 2003 by McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.  Kelton writes about childhood Christmases spent on the ranch where he grew up and where his father was the foreman, as well as other holiday seasons spent at his grandparents' ranch. The middle section of the book concerns the Christmases
Dec 122014
 
Texas Ranger Clint Buckner is given a furlough from Ranger service so that he can go to New Mexico and lend a hand to former Ranger commander Major Phineas Cole, who has a dangerous job for him. Cole is planning to buy a ranch in the wilds of the Sierra Leone Mountains, but the three men he has sent into the mountains to check out the place have all disappeared, perhaps the victims of foul
Dec 052014
 
When I was in high school I was a big fan of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels and read all of them I could get my hands on. That was pretty easy in those days, since Pyramid Books had reprinted almost the entire series in paperback and used copies were plentiful. I think I eventually read all of them. But I don't recall reading anything else by Rohmer, whose real name was Arthur Sarsfield Ward.
Nov 282014
 
HELL IN THE SADDLE is the story of Clint Buckley, who returns to his father's ranch in the Big Bend of Texas after several years away, only to find that his father has been murdered, rustlers are running rampant, and a mysterious masked vigilante known only as Don Muerto is riding around the Big Bend shooting people. It's up to Clint, of course, to smash the rustlers and avenge his father,
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