Friday, October 10, 2014

Forgotten Books: TWISTED TRAILS (The Santa Dolores Stage) by W.C. Tuttle (1934)

Yep, it's another adventure of those Cowpunchers of Disaster, Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens. Near as I can tell, this one first appeared as a pulp serial in 1929 and '30 (probably in Adventure) and was published in book form as The Santa Dolores Stage in 1934.

I believe I've mentioned before that these novels can be habit forming. In any case, I'm firmly hooked, and doubt I'll be shaking the habit anytime soon.

This time, Hashknife and Sleepy meet up with a tenderfoot who has just discovered his parentage was a lie, and heads West to find out who he really is. As usual, there are plenty of wacky ranchhands and hardbitten badmen, and it's up to our heroes to shake 'em all up and sort 'em out. To solve the mystery of the tenderfoot's past, Hashknife has to dig deep, poking into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding the robbery of the Santa Dolores Stage. He solves it, of course, but not before a lot of roping, riding, shooting and the foiling of various nefarious plans.

Along the way, we learn a bit more of Hashknife and Sleepy's history.

     "What business are you in, Hartley?"
     Which was very true, in a way. Hashknife Hartley , christened Henry, was born in Montana; on the Milk River, to be exact. His father was an itinerant preacher, blessed with a big family. So big, in fact, that Henry started to work at a tender age, in order to reduce expenses.
     Life had given him many hard knocks before he became a tophand. He had drifted into the Southwest, finally working on the big ranch which gave him his nickname. Here he had met Sleepy Dave Stevens, who hailed from Idaho, and together they started out to see the other side of the hill.
     Their trails had led from Canada to Mexico. At times they worked for the law and with the law, and on their back trails their name was anathema to those who worked outside the law. Marked men, were these two. 
     Sleepy did not do much thinking. He laughed his way along, playing the game for the love of it until Hashknife told him that the end of the trail was near. That meant that if Fate were kind, they would soon head for another hill.
     It was not a remunerative occupation. They had less money now than they had that first day they rode away together. Their needs were few, and they did not want to be thanked for what they did. 

I'm already lookin' forward to ridin with these two again.

My earlier Hashknife and Speedy reviews are HERE.

Randy Johnson enjoyed this one a couple three years ago. You'll find his thoughts HERE.


Cap'n Bob said...

I wonder if the Erb character mentioned on the back cover is a dig at Tarzan's creator.

George said...

I've been a fan of W. C. Tuttle for years. A very underrated writer. I pick up his westerns whenever I find them.

Charles Gramlich said...

Those shirts are a little too clean to my tastes. ;)

Shay said...

I haunt the Unz site and Pulpmags for Western pulps and have run across Hashknife and Sleepy before. They're an interesting duo.