Friday, August 31, 2012

Forgotten Books: MR. SIXGUN by Brian Wynne (Brian Garfield)

Thanks to Open Road Media, many of Brian Garfield's novels - both mysteries and westerns - are back in print as eBooks. I'm all for that, because even though I've read many of those books, they're well worth reading again.

So far, the Jeremy Six series, which begins with Mr. Sixgun (1964) and runs through seven more novels, is NOT on Open Road's reissue schedule, but my fingers are crossed. I like series characters, and there seem to be all too few of them in western fiction (except in the so-called adult western series, which are a different sort of animal).

Anyway, Jeremy Six is one of my favorites, and it was a pleasure to get reacquainted by rereading Mr. Sixgun. Six is the marshal of the fairly typical fictional western town of Spanish Flat. The town has the normal complement of good folks and bad folks, some of whom keep to their own side of the tracks - and some who don't. There's a wide selection of saloons and bawdy houses, from sophisticated to sleazy. And there are some of the stock characters we've come to expect, like a good-hearted madame with whom Six carries on a sort of Matt & Miss Kitty relationship.

So the setup is pretty basic. What makes the series special is Garfield's lean, tough prose - and his talent for depicting good men gone bad and bad men trying to redeem themselves. One such character is the focus of Mr. Sixgun: a notorious gunfighter (and sometimes gun for hire) named Ben Sarasen. Six and Sarasen stand out above the rest of the citizenry like wolves among mutts, and the tension between them flows through the whole book.

The rest of Garfield's Jeremy Six books are: 2) The Night it Rained Bullets, 3) The Bravos, 4) The Proud Riders, 5) A Badge for a Badman, 6) Brand of the Gun, 7) Gun Down (not Gundown, that's a different book), and 8) Big Country, Big Men. BEWARE: Gunslick Territory, another Jeremy Six novel published under the Brian Wynne name, was not written by Garfield.

More Forgotten Books at pattinase.


Ed Gorman said...

Cool review. I'm a huge Brian Garfield fan and the Jeremy Six novels are among my favorites. Thanks for writing this.

Fred Blosser said...

Also, RANGE JUSTICE, aka JUSTICE AT SPANISH FLAT (the former was the Avalon hardcover title, the latter the Ace pb reprint title), was a prequel to the series, as I guess it would be called today. Set in what would become Marshal Six's town starting with MR. SIXGUN, and populated with some of the same supporting characters. Great to see these books mentioned on the blogosphere.

Steve M said...

"I like series characters, and there seem to be all too few of them in western fiction (except in the so-called adult western series, which are a different sort of animal)."

How many series westerns do you want? I have books from over 300 different series and there are many more I haven't yet got any of....and the adult type are just a small portion of these.

Great review, reckon I'll have to check some of these out.

Evan Lewis said...

Guess I'm showing my ignorance, Steve. Almost every time I pick up a book by one of the classic western authors, it turns out to be a stand-alone. Is there a list of western series anywhere on the 'net?

Steve M said...

Not that I know of. Reckon it's an idea for a new series of posts on my blog, Western Fiction Review.

Jerry House said...

Evan, a number of years ago Pat Hawk published a fairly informative list of western series. I don't know if it's still available but you can alway check the usual second hand sources online.

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