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Monday, December 23, 2019

WESTERN NOVELS—THE MAN IN BLACK

WESTERN NOVELS
THE MAN IN BLACK 
Written by journeyman scribe Marin H. Albert under his Al Conroy pseudonym, The Man In Black is the second in a four-book series featuring the gambler and gunman known as Clayburn. Like many tough guys, Clayburn has no first name. A former army scout, Clayburn’s past includes a stint as a town tamer for the Remsberg Detective Agency. He chooses to dress in black when he’s in town gambling, but being a realist, he wears buckskins and Levi’s when out on the trail.

Clayburn is a smart tactician, favoring brains over violence. But when violence is called for, he doesn’t worry about being fast with his guns—believing accuracy is more important. He is, however, fast and free with his fists and never hesitates to fight dirty.

In The Man In Black, Clayburn has invested his gambling spoils into a new stage line run by Greco, his old partner from his detective days. Looking to protect his investment, Clayburn is riding shotgun when the stagecoach is shot up by a sniper, shredding the stage and leaving Greco wounded. Attractive widow Velma Lang, Greco’s business partner, has refused to pay protection money to the Cole Wheelock gang, who control the town.

Wheelock’s orders to shoot up the coach were carried out by Alex Flood, Wheelock’s top enforcer—a killer marksman who specializes in long-range ambush. To salvage his financial investment, Clayburn must take on Wheelock, his gang of hard-case killers, and Flood—the deadliest killer of them all. But Clayborn has a plan. As he puts it, “The difference between an amateur and a professional is a professional figures out a way to cut down the odds before he makes his move.”

The Man In Black became Rough Night In Jericho for the movies. Playing against type, Dean Martin is the town tyrant, Alex Flood, who owns most of Jericho. Flood wants the stagecoach line owned by his former lover, Molly Lang (Jean Simmons).

Dolan (George Peppard) rides into town and reluctantly gets involved in the fracas. The highlight of the film is the extremely violent fight between Dolan and Flood’s henchman, Yarbrough (Slim Pickens), who wields a bullwhip with devastating results.

The script for the movie Rough Night In Jericho—based on The Man In Black—changed the story dramatically. Rather than reprint the original book with the new title as a movie tie-in, an original novelization of the script was commissioned. A book, based on a movie, based on a different book is a rare occurrence.

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