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
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