Friday, September 19, 2014

Forgotten Books: THE PROUD RIDERS by Brian Wynne (Garfield)

The Proud Riders is the fourth installment in Brian Garfield's saga of Marshal Jeremy Six, and the most complex story (so far) in the series. This time we get three protagonists and three major plots all rolled into one book. And all that sold, back in 1967, for a mere forty-five cents. My comments on the first three books, Mr. Six-Gun, The Night it Rained Bullets and The Bravos, are HERE.

This being Jeremy Six's series, the story begins and ends with him. Six, for those coming in late, was a skilled gunman who rode pretty close to the wrong side of the law before settling down to accept the position of Chief of Police in barely-tamed town of Spanish Flat, Arizona. Six is cast in the Matt Dillon mold, complete with his own Miss Kitty, the madame and proprietor of a cat house/saloon on the wrong side of the tracks. Like Dodge City, Spanish Flat also has a right side of the tracks, and a saloon (the Drover's Rest) where folks from all walks of life brush shoulders.

Protagonist number 2 is Matt Chavis, the guy who did his best to tame Spanish Flat before Six came on the scene, now married and making a go at cattle ranching. As the story opens, his herd has been rustled and Jeremy Six is failing to get them back. Chavis is now hard against it, and the bank is about to foreclose.

Enter John Paradise, hero number 3, who just happens to be an old pal of Chavis. Paradise is this book's version of Garfield's favorite character - the world-weary gunfighter who just wants to be left alone, but his reputation won't let him. When challenged, he kills without regret, not because he's bad, but because the years have burned all the regret out of him. What sets Paradise apart from others of his type is that his rep has already cost him his right arm. Not to worry, though, he's equally capable of killing with his left.

Plot number 1 involves a Fourth of July horse race, with a $500 prize and the chance to earn much more on side bets. Chavis resolves to capture and tame a particular wild palomino in hopes of winning enough to stave off the bank.

In plot number 2, the U.S. Army ships a $65,000 payroll to Spanish Flat, where troopers from surrounding forts will be sent to fetch it, but not until sometime after the Fourth.

And plot 3 is built on the uneasy relationship of Jeremy Six and John Paradise. Six hates what Paradise stands for, while Paradise wants to be friends, and the conflict remains in play until the last page of the book.

Among the guest players mixing it up with our heroes are a family of redheaded outlaws, an arrogant fat cat from New York City, a thoroughbred racehorse and his small but noble jockey.

And that's all I'm sayin', except that Garfield brings it all home, as usual, to a satisfying climax.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Henery the Eigth, I Am (maybe)

The folks at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art say it's "believed" that this armor, including its horsey accouterments and cool shoes, belonged to jolly old King Henry VIII. Makes you want to hum an annoying tune, doesn't it?

And just in case that song still ain't in your head . . . 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Overlooked Films: Lash LaRue in RETURN OF THE LASH (1947)

It's a well-kept Hollywood secret that Western idol Alfred "Lash" LaRue borrowed his schtick from a young Texan named William "Wild Bill" Crider, who, with his pal James "Fuzzy" Reasoner, once roamed the plains righting wrongs and punishing evildoers with his bullwhip. After Lash stole his thunder, Wild Bill supposedly retired, but folks around Alvin, Texas still claim that on moonless nights they sometimes hear the crack of a whip and the scream of some no-good varmint regretting his sins.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: Hamilton Secret Agent Hideaway Pistol

Most toy derringers were pint-sized, but this one is a whopping six inches, making it larger than some real derringers, and a very nice handful. It's also unusual in that it tries to straddle the fence between the Old West and the mean streets. Though there is no name on the gun, it was marketed as a "Secret Agent Hideaway Pistol," complete with a cut-out secret agent ID card on the back of the box (if YOU were a secret agent, wouldn't you want an ID card that said so?). The same gun was also made with an Annie Oakley target logo on the grips. Wish I had one of those. I'd be rich.

A Cap Gun bonanza HERE.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nero Wolfe lived here (or not).

My wife and I just returned from a week of fun, frolic and foot pain in New York City. After walking the High Line north to West 30th Street, I dragged her along on my pilgrimage to West 35th. Because Rex Stout failed to give us the house number, I was worried I might not be able to pick the Nero Wolfe residence out of the many brownstones between 9th and 10th Avenue. But my worries were for naught, because there's only one left, and this is it, number 455. It wins by default.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX 54mm KNIGHTS (Part 2)

Here are the rest of our valiant (but sometimes clumsy-looking) Marx knights from 1953. Part 1 was HERE. In Part 3, coming soon, we'll meet a better-looking crew.

Lots more Toy Soldiers HERE

Friday, September 12, 2014

Forgotten Stories: RIDDLE IN THE RAIN by Robert Leslie Bellem (1943)

About a zillion Dan Turner stories have been reprinted, but last time I checked (a year or so ago) this did not appear to be one of them. Now I ain't so sure. But so what? If you're a Dan fan, you'll like it anyway. This one's from the January 1943 issue of Speed Detective. Tell us your tale, Mr. T . . .