Friday, October 11, 2013

Forgotten Books: THE BRAVOS by Brian Wynne Garfield (1966)

Many Brian Garfield westerns feature a world-weary gunfighter with a bad reputation. Everyone expects the worst of him, and - while no candidate for sainthood - he is partially redeemed by demonstrating a sense of honor lesser badmen could never understand.

The first two Jeremy Six books, Mr. Sixgun (reviewed HERE) and The Night it Rained Bullets (HERE) sported such characters, and if memory serves they are not the last. But The Bravos, the third book in the Six series, offers something different. In this one, Jeremy Six plays that role himself. 

When the citizens of Spanish Flat form a lynch mob, overpower Marshal Six and throw a necktie party for his prisoner, Jeremy resigns in disgust and hits the trail. He’s been deluding himself, he believes, in thinking that human beings even want justice - let alone deserve it.

Arriving in another town, he proceeds to drink and feel sorry for himself, trying not to care as he watches the citizens of this new burg prove themselves every bit as human as those he left behind. Will he eventually shake his funk and save these folks from themselves? What do you think?

Yeah, its predictable, but along the way we learn a little of Jeremy’s past. He once had a wife, but while he was out of town selling horses, Mrs. Six was unlucky enough to be trampled by a lynch mob. When Jeremy returned, he tracked down the leader of the mob and killed him in a fair fight. He then went on the gambling circuit, becoming known as “a wild man” with a reputation for quick shooting. When he finally slowed down enough to accept the job of Marshal, the citizens of Spanish Flat (as his Miss Kitty stand-in describes it), tamed him as much as he tamed them.

As a novel, The Bravos dished up a healthy serving of badmen, gunplay and tough Garfield prose, but I’ll be glad to see Six return to marshaling in the next book, The Proud Riders.

Forgotten Books is a pattinase production.


David Cranmer said...

Never read these. Duly noted in a long file of duly noted.

George said...

I've read several of Brian Garfield's westerns and enjoyed them all. But I think he was a better suspense writer.

Evan Lewis said...

Garfield was turning out westerns like crazy in the '60s, and no doubt learned a lot by the time he started writing thrillers in the '70s.

Rick Robinson said...

Seems you're still looking for that book that makes the bell ring for you. So many westerns seem to have predictable plots.

Cap'n Bob said...

I read this earlier this year (or late last year) and liked it.