Friday, October 5, 2012

Forgotten Books: Jeremy Six returns in "The Night it Rained Bullets" by Brian Wynne Garfield

After rereading Mr. Sixgun last month (review HERE) I was eager for a return trip to Spanish Flat, and another round of blazing action with Marshal Jeremy Six. And The Night It Rained Bullets (1965) did not disappoint.

There's a storm coming - a BIG one - and no one wants to be caught on the Arizona desert. So everyone - including a notorious gunman and a gang of toughs Jeremy Six recently kicked out of town - comes slinking in to hunker down in Spanish Flat's saloons, hotels and bawdy houses. Once the storm hits, the blizzard is so fierce a man can't see across the street, and risks being swept just by venturing out of doors.

But Jeremy Six knows that each gathering place is a potential powder keg, especially those occupied by the aforementioned gunslinger and the gang of badmen. So out he goes, ably assisted by his relief marshal Bill Dealing and his deputy Dominguez (on Six's right and left, respectively, on the cover at left).

The fuse is lit when a spoiled rich-kid accuses the gunslinger of cheating at cards, and the gang of evil varmints threaten to carve up Spanish Flat's (and Six's) version of Miss Kitty. Hell starts a-poppin', and Six and his men are right in the thick of it.

Hard to say why I'm so partial to Garfield's prose. Somehow, he always says just enough - and never too much - to set the scene and keep the tension mounting. And amazingly, the guy was only 26 when this was published. Next up for Marshal Six: The Bravos.

WARNING: If you go hunting this on ABE, you'll find some dealers who think this 75 cent edition (Ace 57601) is the first printing. But the true first is Ace M-128, the one that sold for a mere 45 cents. Nothing wrong with the reissue, of course, but you should know what you're getting. The other side of both books is Nemesis of Circle A by Reese Sullivan, which I have not read.

More, more, more Forgotten Books at Sweet Freedom.


Deka Black said...

A book with a title like this is the kind of work that make me think: "Wow! This must be indeed a great story!"

Rick Robinson said...

I rarely read westerns, but this sounds like it was a good one.

Steve Lewis said...

"Somehow, he [Garfield] always says just enough - and never too much - to set the scene and keep the tension mounting."

I think you summarized Garfield's westerns in just one sentence. I don't know if I'm in the minority on this or not, but I enjoy his work even more than I do Elmore Leonard's.

In your previous Jeremy Six review you said, "BEWARE: Gunslick Territory, another Jeremy Six novel published under the Brian Wynne name, was not written by Garfield."

I know I've read about this before, possibly in OWLHOOTS, but can you tell us what the story behind this was again?

Evan Lewis said...

Seems to me, Steve, that Fred Blosser once advised the OWLHOOT gang that Gunslick Territory was written by Dean Owen. Can't recall the whys and wherefores.

Fred Blosser said...

Here's what I recall from interviewing Brian Garfield a few years ago: His final Jeremy Six novel for Ace, BIG COUNTRY, BIG MEN, was published in 1969. He was surprised, three years later, when Ace published a new "Jeremy Six" novel by "Brian Wynne," GUNSLICK TERRITORY.

Subsequently, BG was told that Donald Wollheim had decided to continue the series under the misunderstanding that "Jeremy Six" and "Brian Wynne" were house names that Ace owned, and that Dean Owen had written GUNSLICK TERRITORY. BG successfully argued that Ace had no legal rights to the series or the byline, Ace ceded the case, and there were no more "Brian Wynne" novels.

Not only is the style of GUNSLICK TERRITORY clearly different from Brian Garfield's style, the fake "Brian Wynne" novel also changes the names of a couple of supporting characters in the series. I'm not sure if this was simply a matter of carelessness, or whether it was intentionally done for some obscure reason.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Fred!