RENEGADE BRAND RICHARD BRISTER
1955 FAWCETT GOLD MEDAL
REVIEWER: RICHARD PROSCH
From three years prior to the previously reviewed The Wolf Streak, this one’s got all that The Wolf Streak’s got and a little bit more. Cast from the same basic soap opera template, there’s more action and more lead-perforated bad guys.
I wonder if the editors of the Fawcett Gold Medal originals encouraged more violence than the Avon editors? Either way, it’s a better book.
In the one, Neil Ashton isn’t coming back home from hunting wolves. He’s coming back from a few years on the owl hoot trail. A man who hung around with some bad hombres—but never actually did anything wrong—he sees the road he’s headed down and comes home to take over the Stirrup ranch when his stepmom dies.
But of course, the Stirrup is broke and since it’s the only land around with a lake, it’s coveted by bad neighbor and childhood rival Frank Buckmaster. Frank’s got a hard buddy named Johnny Wenima and a good deal of influence over folks around the nearby town of Piperock.
It’s hard for Neil to make a go of things with Frank in his way, and another neighbor named Peyt English is sparking Neil’s old gal-pal Ruth. Brister runs through all the tropes from fistfights, gun battles, and Frank trying to frame Neil in the eye of the kindly old sheriff—Exactly as he’d do later in The Wolf Streak—the author introduces a mean gunman who first works for the hero, but then switches sides. But this time the showdown is more-gut wrenching, with a more satisfying conclusion.
All in all, a fine read.