Recently, I reluctantly made a very socially distanced trip outside of California. And I have to say I'm not sure whenever or if ever flying and the associated trips we took for granted will feel safe again. But I decided to use the opportunity to use the way-back machine to also take a few days away from my Kindle and my laptop and hold a few real paperbacks in my hands again. It was a very soothing experience and something I will be doing again more often—the paperback thing that is, not necessarily the travel.
Before I left, I perused my bookshelves carefully looking over thirty or more vintage Westerns. I eventually chose three titles by authors who I can always rely on to keep my interest—Gunsight by Frank Gruber, Ride the River by Louis L'Amour, and an old favorite, The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker.
Gruber was, of course, prolific contributor to the pulps and easily made the transition to paperback originals and TV scripts in the 1950s. Gunsight is the perfect example of Gruber at the top of his game delivering 140 pages of slam bang action all tied to a twisting, but logical plot with a few surprises along the way.
From the opening sentence, The Cowboys were drunk when they got on the train, and when they sat down they continued to improve their condition, you know action and violence will soon be in the offing, and Gruber doesn't disappoint. Throw in a pretty girl, a dangerous man on the run, a sadistic detective, and a little gunplay and Gruber has put all of his pieces in motion by the time the first chapter is over.
What follows is a great ride and a terrific comfort read. Nothing here a regular reader of Westerns hasn't come across before, but Gruber is a master wordslinger who has no trouble getting even the most jaded reader to smell the gunsmoke and hear the flying lead. Highly recommended...