Wednesday, January 18, 2023

"TALES OF TOM MIX" - A New Series by Scott McCrae: MOUNTAIN KILLER

Mountain Killer is the first of five novels (so far) starring Tom Mix. It’s a good read. Scott McCrea’s prose is tight and smooth, and delivers a fair number of smiles. The plan for the series, the author has announced, is to ride with Tom on adventures set in different stages of his life.

In this one, Tom is thirty-one years old and serving as Marshal of Dewey, Oklahoma. (According the Wikipedia, the extent of my research, Mix did actually work as a night marshal for short time there.) He has also been featured as a sharp-shooter and trick rider in the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Show, said to be the next best thing to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

Mix is described as the handsomest ugly man the sheriff of the small logging town of La Mort Sanglante (French for “Bloody Death”) has ever met, with “damnably clear, dark eyes under thick brows, a nose that too flat and mouth that was too wide. But his smile was wide-open and infectious, and the comma of black hair that fell over his left brow somehow illustrated his rough-and-tumble aspect.”

Mountain Killer is a no-nonsense murder mystery, with a bit of lead-slinging and fisticuffs added for spice. The sheriff and other locals take it for granted the killing was done by a grizzly bear—most likely a near-legendary giant beast known as Big Claw—but Tom has his doubts.

 There’s a good-lookin’ female on hand, of course, and she and Tom quite naturally cotton to one another. But the focus is always on solving the mystery, and Tom is on it like a dog with a bone. 

Author McCrae dishes up a number of great lines:

-        The men in the bar leaned more closely, drinking in every word like it was served from a shot glass.

-        Tom Mix wondered why anyone would bother telling Jonah Brunus to hush; he’d heard dead cats make more noise.

-        His fist impacted on Cavanaugh’s jaw with the sound of a bat hitting a baseball.

-        He held her tight and kissed her back. When he let her go, he was afraid that his mouth was smoking.

-        The shotgun answered with a bouquet of buckshot, and Tom ducked.       

Through it all, there are some nicely-wrought characters and sharply-done action scenes. Does Tom finally give the killer a healthy dose of justice? Does a grizzly do his business in the woods?

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