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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Western Book Review - Law of the Gun

Historical data:
(C) 1958 Paul Evan
Macfadden Bartell Books
cover price 50c

I enjoyed this book - it's a traditional style western, well told in a straight forward manner and expertly structured so that it grabs the reader immediately, opening up with El Lobo (the Wolf), a notorious outlaw intervening when a jumped up young man, the kid, is about to be arrested for robbing a Blackjack dealer.

Together the two men flee the town, a posse led by Sheriff Ed Grant in hot pursuit. What follows this thrilling, if hackneyed opening sequence, is a great section with El Lobo and the injured kid (the kid was wounded in their escape) having to survive in the wilderness with their skilled pursuers never too far behind. Once the two men do manage to escape El Lobo discovers that the kid is actually his son, and whilst this seems unlikely it is handled beautifully and flows out of the plot.We also learn that El Lobo and the sheriff have a past that is flushed out as the story unfolds. And even if the book is plotted in the style of a B-western the characters are real, or at least as real as they need to be for the story. El Lobo, for instance, is a magnificent classic western character, the reluctant outlaw facing his own mortality and discovering he wants a different life for the son he never knew he had. We learn of El Lobo's past and come to understand his route to joining the owlhoot trail.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it a quick easy read - it was also very useful to me as a western writer myself, since it contains some interesting western lore and of course it is a master-class in pacing, a real page turner. I got this book in amongst a job lot of old westerns I bought from a second-hand shop - there are several other titles by the same author among the pile and it won't be too long before I try this author again.

Information about the author is scarce but there is a useful list of his westerns at the author's Fantastic Fiction page. Here's hoping some Archive readers out there can give a little detail about this writer.

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