GORDON D. SHIRREFFS – Rio Desperado [+] Voice of the Gun. Ace Double F-152, paperback originals, 1962. Both have been reprinted either separately or in combination with other novels.

   When a cowpoke heads out across the pass to a neighboring valley to avenge the hanging death of his half-brother, events quickly grow out of control, and the young gunfighter whose life he saves three times in two days causes him more problems than he could ever imagine.

   Only 102 pages in length, Rio Desperado feels cut off in its prime. Much of the anticipation that’s aroused by an interesting beginning is erased by an ending that’s far too rushed and confusing to be of any help. Who knows what evil the editor wrought?

   Longer, but again only 120 pages long, Voice of the Gun is a better book than its other half, but only by the smallest of margins. The theme is the same, that of one man facing down almost insurmountable odds, heading into enemy territory to regain or to hold onto what is rightfully his.

   And of course he succeeds, in spite of several stubborn, boneheaded mistakes and miscalculations on his part. And in spite of some fast-changing and sometimes surprising alliances and allegiances, the high point occurs when Sloan Sutro gets some additional support from sources it seems he had no right to count one. (In other words, this is a good story, almost in spite of itself.)

— Reprinted from Nothing Accompliced #4, November 1993, slightly revised.

Comment:   At one time I was working on a complete bibliography for Gordon Shirreffs, and I thought it was complete enough that I’d put it online. But if I did, I can’t find it now. I’ll have to look into the status of that. Even though these two novels were what I considered minor efforts, Shirreffs was one of the better western writers of his time.