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Monday, August 13, 2012

Riders of Death

     Another of those books from that garage sale box, this book by Lee Floren was published in 1971, but was apparently originally published under the title "Cottonwood Pards"(year unknown)(and I'm not going to spend that much time looking).

     the first thing I noticed was a consistent use of the word "drouth" in place of Drought. Apparently this is a real spelling, if an unfamiliar one. I don't intend this to be a comprehensive review of the book. I just spent a month reading this gem one week, and thought I would get a few thoughts down. If you do happen to come across it at a garage sale or wherever, you can be forewarned.

     The Plot: the "hero"(more on the Quatation marks later) and his sidekick arrive at Wolf Ridge Basin in arizona to discover the friend they have come to help being robbed at gunpoint of the tax money of most of the folks in the valley. they chase the bandits, kill one but lose the other and the money. The "hero" and his sidekick stay in town to puzzle out why the Boss Villain, who owns most of the area, set up the robbery-that is, why he wants everyone to default on their taxes so he can control this apparently worthless land

   Recurring themes: just about every time the "hero" or villain make a prediction about what the other is going to to do, or can accomplish, they turn out to be 100% wrong, often with unintentionally funny results(unintended by the author-this is not intentionally a comedy)

   The Characters:
  • The "Hero": Buck McKee is described as tough and intelligent. I'm reminded of the line from the movie "the Mexican" where the hero's wife tells him "You have managed to Forrest Gump your way through this."...yep, Buck McKee made me feel a lot like that. Also, apparently in the west the Author has created,  any crime can be justified if the person you are committing it against is a bad guy. the "hero" commits Assault(kicks the chair out from under the town doctor) Robbery, (the bank and the general store owned by the master villain) and Arson(Same general store) in his pursuit of  justice for his friend Mike. Just one problem with that. during the initial robbery, his friend Mike is thrown out of his wagon and hits his head against a rock. The "hero" pursues the bad guys instead of tending to his friend because "he's just unconscious". Apparently the Subdural Hematoma was not invented until after 1894.
  • The Sidekick: Tortilla Joe is a one line joke striving to be a one dimensional character. over and over as I read him, I kept thinking of Etta Candy from the golden age Wonder Woman Comics. That he is a more than able gunman and a talented Safe Cracker do not make up for this.
     To sum up, the only characters in the book who come across as vaguely heroic are actually the kidnapped U.S. Cavalry Lieutenant Henning and the half-breed Redbird.

     The Author has another book listed, "Shoot Out at Milk River". I'm going to be looking long and hard for that one...

1 comment:

  1. I might add...
    the "hero" and sidekick come off a bit misogynistic as well, in their clear belief that if they end up with girlfriends/wives/whatnot that that's the end of their roamin' days.