RAY HOGAN – The Vengeance Gun. Ace Double 67580, paperback original; 1st printing, July 1973. Published back-to-back with Powdersmoke Partners, by L. L. Foreman. Thorndike Press, hardcover, 1993.

   Take another look at the title. As you may or may not recall, I reviewed a western movie with much the same basic story line as this one. The movie was entitled Panhandle, and you can read my comments here. In both cases the leading protagonist has a mission, that of avenging the shooting death of his brother.

   Rod Cameron played John Sands in the movie. In the book at hand, the hero is a young fellow named Tom Rademacher. He’s been on the trail of his brother’s killer for five years, riding from town to town for all that time, but never quite finding him.

   But when hits the range where a gent named Joe Keck wants to take over, he finds himself siding with a girl and her brother who are the last holdouts against Keck and his gang. If this sounds familiar, it is.

   One difference between the book and the movie, is that after five years on the trail, Tom is starting to have doubts. In the movie, the death of John Sands’ brother has just happened. It is no wonder that he can’t be distracted from his mission, as was pointed out in the review and the comments that followed.

   I liked the book more, though. I identify with heroes who have doubts. I find that there’s more to the story if they do. It’s not to say that The Vengeance Gun is great literature. It isn’t. It ends far too quickly and abruptly, for example. At only 111 pages log, it’s over before you know it. You expect happy endings in westerns, but this one’s far too easy.