JONAS WARD – Buchananís Black Sheep.

Fawcett Gold Medal; paperback original. First printing, February 1985.

JONAS WARD

   Iím sure I read some of the first Buchanan books when they first came out, but since that was well over 50 years ago, I hope youíll forgive if I donít remember many of the details. In fact, you might as well say none of the details, and if you donít, I will.

   So when I picked this book up in a spare moment last week, it was as if I was reading about the character for the first time, and yet (as it turns out) it was the next to the last of the series. Which must have made Gold Medal a small stack of money over the years Ė a small stack large enough to keep bringing the books out, even after the original author died, a fellow named William Ard, who was probably better known then as now as a mystery writer, under his own name and a few others.

   Science fiction writer Robert Silverberg completed the sixth one, Brian Garfield pinch hit for the seventh, then William R. Cox wrote all the rest. (For some more on Cox, go here to read my comments about a mystery novel he wrote, a yarn called Death on Location (Signet, 1952).)

   Thanks to Pat Hawk, whose list of the complete series he posted on the WesternPulp Yahoo group, here below is the full Buchanan bibliography. Although some were reprinted later in various large print and library hardcover edition, each of the books appeared first as a paperback original. Iíve added the Gold Medal code numbers and the full dates, whenever I could find them.

      WILLIAM ARD
The Name’s Buchanan. Gold Medal 604, 1956. Filmed as Buchanan Rides Alone.
Buchanan Says No. Gold Medal 662, April 1957.
One-Man Massacre. Gold Medal 742, February 1958.
Buchanan Gets Mad. Gold Medal 803, 1958.

JONAS WARD

Buchanan’s Revenge. Gold Medal 951, January 1960.

      WILLIAM ARD & ROBERT SILVERBERG
Buchanan On the Prod. Gold Medal 1026, August 1960.

JONAS WARD

      BRIAN GARFIELD
Buchanan’s Gun. Gold Medal D1926, 1968.

JONAS WARD

      WILLIAM R. COX
Buchanan’s War. Gold Medal R2396, March 1971.
Trap for Buchanan. Gold Medal T2579, 1972.
Buchanan’s Gamble. Gold Medal T2656, January 1973.

JONAS WARD

Buchanan’s Siege. Gold Medal T2773, August 1973.
Buchanan on the Run. Gold Medal M2966, May 1974.
Get Buchanan! Gold Medal M3165, December 1974.
Buchanan Takes Over. Gold Medal M3255, May 1975.
Buchanan Calls the Shots. Gold Medal M3429, December 1975.

JONAS WARD

Buchanan’s Big Showdown. Gold Medal 13553, 1976.
Buchanan’s Texas Treasure. Gold Medal 13812, 1977
Buchanan’s Stolen Railway. Gold Medal 13977, 1978.
Buchanan’s Manhunt. Gold Medal 14119, 1979.
Buchanan’s Range War. Gold Medal 14357, July 1980.
Buchanan’s Big Fight. Gold Medal 14406, May 1981.
Buchanan’s Black Sheep. Gold Medal 12412, February 1985.
Buchanan’s Stage Line. Gold Medal 12847, March 1986.

   As for Black Sheep, the one I read last week, Tom Buchanan, whose travels have taken him all over the West, takes sides in still another range war in this one, this time on the side of a sheep rancher and his family.

JONAS WARD

   On the other side, a big cattleman intent on running the little guy off the land with any means he sees fit, either fair or foul, mostly foul Ė in terms of hired gunmen who also think that taking Buchanan down will mean a big boost to their reputation.

   Thatís the story in a nutshell, but of course thereís a lot more to it than that. Cox, which is how Iíll refer to the author, is interested in characters, and not only in the major players going head to head over the grasslands, but the women involved, of whom there quite a few, and the Indians Ė both those who ride renegade against both sides, but others also who for reasons of their own have taken allegiance with the sheepman and his family.

   Siding with Buchanan is his companion Ė over the course of several/most/all of the books? Ė a black man named Coco Bean and a good person to have next to you in a fight, whether in the squared circle or on the open plains.

   There is little action for most of the book, only a few small scattered (but often deadly) skirmishes. Buchanan tries his best to end the impasse without gunplay, but with cattle rancher Jake Robertson egged on by his own ego — as well as an outside factor or two — resolving the matter peacefully proves to be next to impossible.

   And in the end, gunplay is what ends (and saves) the day Ė fast, furious and fatal for many of the participants Ė but I have a feeling that it may have come too late for many readers of the day, who may have become impatient with too much palavering and the romantic subplots, which are fine as far as they go, but neither are the characters quite deep enough to make this literature as well as a pretty good old-fashioned western.