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Thursday, January 2, 2020

WESTERN NOVELS—BONANZA: KILLER LION

WESTERN NOVELS
BONANZA: KILLER LION
STEVE FRAZEE 
With a career writing about fathers, sons, and men working together, Frazee was a good choice to pen a book about the testosterone-heavy Ponderosa. What’s interesting is that the first half of this Whitman TV tie-in is pretty much a Hoss solo story, with Little Joe and Ben only showing up two thirds of the way through to lend a hand. In fact, this story of a rescued lion cub’s adoption and subsequent troubles, belongs entirely to the most amiable Cartwright brother.

While wintering at a Ponderosa line camp with a herd of new Herford cows, Hoss rescues a lion cub after killing its mother. The good hearted cowboy can’t bring himself to part with “Rimrock,” the increasingly tame kitten.

Many pages are devoted to Hoss and Rimrock in playful interaction. After the relationship is established, the plot deals with the necessity of hiding the cat from fellow ranchers and law men.

After Hoss returns home, an old carpet bagger is found dead, apparently the victim of a lion attack. Well, you can imagine where things go from here. Was Rimrock to blame?  What will Hoss do? Will Bonanza end like Old Yellar?

Peter Brandvold wrote on Facebook that H. A. De Rosso seemed to have a hard time keeping things light in  Whitman’s TV tie-in The Rebel, something I thought was also true for Cole Fannin in The Rifleman. Not so here, as Frazee seems comfortable at telling a light hearted story with an emphasis on all-ages fun.

I won’t tell you fellars how it turns out, because as kid-oriented as it is, it’s absolutely worth checking out.

CONTRIBUTOR: RICHARD PROSCH

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