MAX BRAND – Gunman’s Goal.

Five Star, hardcover, Feb 2000. Leisure, paperback; 1st printing, Nov 2002. First appearance: Western Story Magazine, 14 July 1928.

MAX BRAND Gunman's Goal

   Max Brand is one of this country’s most famous western writers, and that’s exactly how this latest of his works is being marketed, but what it an action-packed crime novel that just happens to take place in the West. Reprinted from its serial form when it first appeared in the pulp Western Story Magazine in 1928, this is one of a series of adventures of James Giraldi, a dashing young adventurer to whom crime is a fine art, looking solely for the excitement, not ill-gotten gains.

   He’s hired in this novel by a girl (beautiful) to find her father (innocent) who has disappeared, fleeing from the law after being charged with murder. The girl’s Cousin Edgar (dastardly) has evil intentions toward the estate, and to that end he is making romantic overtures to her mother (fluttery and weak-minded).

   It reads much better than it sounds! The action is continuous, the dialogue often lyrical, and the tale truly epic in nature. This is the stuff that legends are made of, the American West of the imagination, not of reality, but to my way of thinking, every so often a strong dose of balladry and fables like this is just what the doctor ordered.

MAX BRAND Gunman's Goal

   [One note of caution, though: Going back to Brand’s original manuscript may be responsible for some glitches a good eagle-eyed editor should have caught. Giraldi’s horse gains a new name from one chapter to the next, and once in Giraldi’s hands, a saddlebag full of valuable papers suddenly seems to contain currency instead.]

— November 2002 (slightly revised)

[UPDATE] 11-23-08.   Put this in the “For What It’s Worth” category: A reviewer of this book on Amazon claims that it was published earlier as Three on the Trail and warns people not to buy it. I don’t believe the two books are the same. “Three on the Trail” was published as a six-part serial in Western Story Magazine beginning 12 May 1928; and as as you can see from the cover to the right, “Gunman’s Goal” was in the 14 July issue of the same year.