Friday, August 3, 2012

Forgotten Books: Roy Rogers and The Ghost of Mystery Rancho by Walter A. Tompkins


This is one of the better Roy Rogers novels, because as far as I know, it’s the only one written by a genuine western pulp writer.

Walter A. Tompkins wrote for a lot of pulps, and wrote a lot of western paperback novels, but I know him best from the Thrilling Publications line, where he provided many lead novels for Rio Kid Western, Masked Rider and Range Busters.

Roy Rogers and the Ghost of Mystery Rancho (1950) starts when a Texas Ranger captain invites Roy to help solve a mystery down near the Mexican border. Evil doings surround the Box C ranch, known locally as “Mystery Rancho,” and four lawmen have disappeared without a trace.

But before Roy can get into action, the ranger is gunned down by a talking skeleton. The man’s dying request is that Roy don his badge and finish his job. It turns out he has two main enemies. One is a tattooed Mexican gang leader called Senor Rattlesnake, and the other is a guy who rides around wearing a skeleton costume and a cowboy hat. This second guy - the mystery man of the piece - calls himself The Ghost.

It soon develops that the two villains are in cahoots, and their master plan is a large scale counterfeiting operation.  You know, of course, that Roy is going to survive, because he still a has a lot of movies - and a TV series - to make. But along the way he gets into some fixes worthy of Republic cliffhangers. At one point he’s buried up to his neck in quicksand (and no, Trigger does not pull him out), and later he gets hanged, and is still hanging when the buzzards arrive for breakfast.


Along with Tomkin’s purple prose, we’re treated to seventeen interior illustrations by Andrew Bensen, who also had some pulp experience. You can see covers he did for Weird Tales and Real Detective Tales HERE .

For more Forgotten Books, I invite you to mosey over to SWEET FREEDOM.






12 comments:

James Reasoner said...

I've read this one and loved it. Tompkins' work is nearly always entertaining.

Todd Mason said...

Well, as almost always to Pattinase...this week, I'm subbing as host. Looks very Whitman Publishing-esque, indeed!

shonokin said...

That looks great! Reminds me of some of the "Forgotten Horror"/poverty row weird west movies from the 40s.

Walker Martin said...

I remember getting this book for Christmas when I was 8 years old. The plot and drawings of the skeleton scared me.

David Cranmer said...

I didn't know about this one, Evan. Thanks.

Oscar said...

The cover at the top: Roy looks like he's wearing wings with the rock design, to me, anyway. Nice review!

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thanks for posting.

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John Anderson said...

got the book for christmas 1953.I remember there was a drawing of the Ranch Foreman in a Wheel chair. who was suposed to have been shot by the gost

holly said...

where DID he get THAT SHIRT??????

Mike Newton said...

I had this book and also a copy of Roy Rogers and the Rimrock Raiders. In good conditon and with the dust jacket, they are priced at $15 to $20. Whitman Publishing also put out the Big Little and Better Little Books of the Thirties and Forties, also the coloring books featuring cowboy and movie stars.