Saturday, 3 January 2009

Morgan Kane #26

as by Louis Masterson
Corgi 1974
originally published in Norway in 1969

They murdered. They raped. They terrorized. ‘They’ were the Coyoteros – an outlaw gang of blood-crazy whites, half-breeds and trigger-happy Mexicans who ran rampage on both sides of the border. No lawman had ever attempted to stop them – and they figured no lawman was ever gonna try. But they hadn’t counted on Morgan Kane getting interested in their business…

The ‘business’ concerned was a mighty profitable slave-traffic of Apache children – children who were snatched from the reservation and then dragged over the border to be sold. Everything was going real fine until a wagonload of children arrived accompanied by a black-haired woman, an Apache brave and U.S. Marshal Morgan Kane, aiming to kill…

Here author Louis Masterson (Kjell Hallbing) has Kane hunting down some slave traders, a typical western plot, but this is a Morgan Kane story and as to be expected from this series there’s more to this job than just hunting down the Coyoteros.

This is another tough entry into this often brutal series. A book I read in one sitting as Kane struggles to piece together the clues as to just who is behind the selling of the children and who is buying.

In this story Kane’s usually ice-cold exterior cracks with the involvement of the children and he allows his stunning female companion a brief glimpse of his feelings, but only for a moment, adding yet another layer to his complexed character, leading to more emotional scars for Morgan Kane.

Overlooking the occasional bad translations (by Jeffrey M. Wallmann), that make you wonder as to the meaning of the odd sentence, this is a good entry into the series.



Kjell Hallbing - what nationality was he? Was he Norweigen?

Steve M said...

Yes he was Norwegian.

Chap O'Keefe said...

I'd like to be wrong but I don't think a British publisher would take on a western with themes like these in Coyoteros! today. The order has gone out that nothing must appear in a western which is "unpleasant".

I wasted a lot of time last month in email correspondence over my newest Joshua Dillard tale, Faith and a Fast Gun. I accepted five of the proposed censorship cuts on seven pages, but tried to dig in my heels over two others (amounting to ten lines in a book of more than 3,500).

Frankly, these last two cuts (which I have been obliged to accept) tend to make later developments and Faith's motivations incomprehensible. Faith is a man-hater and has married Chet for business reasons only. Late in the book, having suffered much from Chet, she decapitates him with a spade, which is apparently quite okay because it doesn't involve sex! The reader, I suspect, will be left to wonder at her extreme action without the necessary foreshadowing.

Here is one of the two passages the publisher is cutting:

'Till death us do part, Faith!' Chet Grumman said to his icily beautiful new wife. And the sarcasm was plain. He was persisting in extracting maximum pleasure from what he was pleased to call their honeymoon, overruling Faith's objections in the latest of a succession of hotel rooms.
Today, he'd proposed they undress and take a bath together. Under pretence of washing her, he'd given his hands every liberty.
`You're sick,' Faith said with a shudder as water slopped over the edges of the big tub.
`I never said I was perfect.'
It was the closest he came to apology.

I have a new Misfit Lil story outlined, but I don't know whether I'm going to bother writing it. I don't want the hassle of negotiating on what should be non-issues in this day and age. A man can't bath with his wife? Ye Gods, what is the world coming to? Roll up this way to get your "pleasant" westerns!

As fellow writer David Whitehead (Ben Bridges) says, "Of course, the irony is that if only western readers were a bit more vocal, they would probably write in to complain that these westerns - which should have a little hair on them - are becoming too sanitized. We have the same thing going on on TV [in England] - increasing numbers of poor but 'safe' programmes that bear little resemblance to real life and thus will cause no offence to an increasingly touchy audience. But if you buy an apple, that's what you expect to get when you bite into it. And in the same way, if you pick up a western you expect it to be tough and harsh, with characters whose motivations are wholly believable."

Steve M said...

I don't think many of the old westerns would be published today due to the reasons you've outlined, and others.

Anonymous said...

Chap O'Keefe - why don't you try to get an U.S.A. publisher? Or is it too complicated, too much red tape or other reasons? Who the heck wants to read a "sanitized western"?
The only westerns I don't like are the ones that are so called adult westerns where the writers take up to 3 pages describing explicit sex. I used to skip those parts in order to read the story but now I don't even bother. I avoid those type books altogether as I consider some of them as nothing but porn disguised as a novel.
The cut scene you used as one example in your book was not offensive in my opinion.
Trelawney Gal