Readers of pulp crime fiction and western paperbacks don’t need an introduction to Harry Whittington. In the mid 20th century, Whittington knocked out scores of tough, no-nonsense stories including more than 200 novels. Seven of his stories made it to the screen, including the television series, Lawman.
It’s the same basis as the movie Last Train From Gun Hill, novelization by Gordon Shirreffs, but with a major difference—Whittington. Harry Whittington often takes a well-trodden western trope and gives it a sweet little twist of ambiguity or—as in this case—irony, and cooks up an entirely new treat from an ages-old recipe.
If Clawson is killed, who’s gonna clear Brent? If Clawson goes free, how can justice be done for Rosemary? If Brent Landers is a wanted man, how soon until Ox Slaughter puts him behind bars?
A lot of neat twist play out with just enough rope to hold things together, but not hang the book in the process. Whittington wrote fast, and it sometimes shows by way of word repetition and downright weird sentences, but never to the detriment of a quick, satisfying tale.