Saturday, July 08, 2006

West of Dodge by Louis L'Amour

(pb; 1996: story anthology)

Overall review:

Old school, clean-cut Western tales, with stout-hearted heroes and attractive, equally admirable women. Decent work from an stylistically-iconic writer, with a few exceptional stories.

Review, story by story:

Beyond the Chapparal”: A “cow town lawyer” (Jim Rossiter) takes on a bunch of cattle rustlers, whose leader (Lonnie Parker) has also stolen Rossiter's woman's heart. Quintessential Western, sharp and exciting.

A Husband For Janey”: Tandy Meadows, an 18-year old Texas boy, wanders onto a rich gold claim – and into a possible marriage. Light-hearted, romantic story, worth reading.

West of Dodge”: Twist-filled work about a gunfighter (Kilkenny) who becomes an unwilling participant in a town war, which may have roots in his past. Great stuff.

The Passing of Rope Nose”: Decent entry about ten thousand dollars, a Ranger and brick-dumb outlaws.

To Make A Stand”: Hurley, a farmer, flees after shooting a thief (who took his horse) – for he's incurred the vengeful wrath of the thief's four brothers. Gripping, believable tale.

That Man From Bitter Sands”: After being robbed and shot by two thieves, a gold miner tracks them, in a crafty, semi-funny and dangerous fashion. Good, traditional Western, with some dark undertones.

Let The Cards Decide”: Henry Duval, an ex-card sharp and gun for hire, and his friends play to free a woman from a bad marriage. Fun, good-natured and clever.

Riches Beyond Dream”: Predictable but warm-hearted tale about a woman (Kirby Ann) who inherits supposedly worthless property from her great-uncle Tom.

West of Dry Creek”: Decent story about a cowpuncher (Beaure Hatch) who rescues a woman from a villain who means to steal her land. Nothing special, not bad.

Marshall of Canyon Gap”: A marshal with a potentially deadly secret is forced to confront his past and his immediate future when a stranger rides into town. Excellent, classic story.

Home Is The Hunter”: Bill Tanneman, an emotionally-reserved gunfighter, sets out to restore a child's home – and justice – after a cowardly land baron has her father killed. Another excellent, involving story.

Rain on the Halfmoon”: A quick-draw cowboy (Jim Thorne) saves his wife from kidnappers. Solid entry.

Stage To Willowspring”: Romance, treachery, gabbed-out rumors and reputations highlight this stagecoach story with a cool twist. Good tale.

To Hang Me High”: Ryan Tyler, a young man, defends the reputation of a woman he loves (Rosa Killeen), and finds himself a hunted man because of it. Worthwhile story, with a predictable twist.

For another review of West of Dodge, check out The Louis L'Amour Project.

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