NORMAN DANIELS – The Deadly Ride.

Lancer; paperback reprint, no date stated but stated elsewhere to be 1968. Original title: The Marshal of Winter Gap, as by Peter Grady (Avalon Books, hc, 1962); paperback reprint: Airmont Books, 1963.


   I’m not too sure of the date for the hardcover edition, which I found online in several places, since the copyright date given in this Lancer edition is 1963. A trifling matter, I suppose, and I guess it ought to bother me more than it does.

   Nor have I done much research into the western fiction that Norman Daniels wrote. I found two more he did as by Peter Grady, but his overall output – hundreds of books, mostly mysteries, but romances too, including gothics as by Dorothy Daniels – is too large for me to start sorting out which is which right now. Suffice it to say, I’m sure, Daniels could write anything that someone paid him to do, beginning in the era of the pulp magazines, and for the most part he made it come it out right and professionally done.

   This western at hand is a perfect example of that. It’s slight and in the beginning a not very promising story of a rancher who used to be a gunman, emphasis on the “used to be,” especially now that he has a nine-year-old son.

   But when his wife is killed by a stray bullet in the lawless town of Winter Gap, he’s sorely tempted to revert to his old ways, which doesn’t quite do. Prodded on, though, by the urging of Louise Amister, whose father was the last marshal the town ever had, what he does do is appoint himself town marshal, daring any of the rougher elements in town to tell him no.

   Characterization is slim – I’ve outlined about 80% of it already – but there’s just enough here, along with a surprise or two, and a semi-sappy, soapy sort of ending, to make for a couple of hours of reading and a story that’s surprisingly hard to put down.