AL CODY Bitter Creek

AL CODY – Bitter Creek. Avon T-431, paperback, no date [1960]. Hardcover edition: Dodd Mead, 1947. Earlier pb reprint: Pocket #769, December 1950.

   When a one-armed Civil War veteran comes home to his ranch and fiancee, he discovers that both his ranch and fiancee have been stolen from him by a long-time rival. This is my favorite type of western story, I think, and this one has some sharply pleasing twists of coincidence to go with it. Tightly plotted, with many of the characters a solid notch beyond cardboard.

BRIAN WYNNE GARFIELD – Vultures in the Sun. Ace F-300, paperback reprint, no date [1964?]. Hardcover edition: Macmillan, 1963. Later paperback reprint: Bantam, 1987.

   Another common theme in western novels is that of the gunfighter who would like to quit and settle down, but can’t. In this one, when Ethan Scott agrees to rid a town of outlaws, he knows full well that when the job is done, he won’t be wanted around much longer. The story is moody and introspective, and it often seems static and unmoving, but the characters are strong and memorable. Good stuff.

AL CODY Bitter Creek

LEWIS B. PATTEN – Home Is the Outlaw. Gold Medal #778, paperback original, June 1958.

   An echo of the preceding book, developed in a much more obvious fashion, and punctuated instead by almost constant action. Gunfighter Morgan Orr returns to his home town to try to make a new life for himself, only to find the woman he remembers no longer available, and a guilty secret ready to burst the town wide open. This is a violent book, but one that’s tough to put down.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File #35,
      November 1993.

[UPDATE] 04-16-10.   A footnote to these three reviews at the time says that I’d just purchased a lot of 600 western paperbacks, of which I’d kept 450 for myself. As I recall, until I obtained this lot, I hadn’t been reading westerns as part of my regular diet for quite a while — ever since the mid-1960s — so I was devouring them quickly.

   Also note how short these reviews were. I was going through a kind of writer’s block at the time, and I was forcing myself out of it by making my reviews as brief and concise as I could.