Friday, August 31, 2012
Forgotten Books: MR. SIXGUN by Brian Wynne (Brian Garfield)
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.