When Tex Scarron, six feet of whipcord steel, rode home to the Bar X in Arizona, he found Parson Dean and his gang working a lucrative ‘protection’ racket. Any rancher who failed to pay up had his cattle rustled, his homestead burnt about his ears and his cowhands shot in the back.
Tex’s earlier experience fighting hoodlums came in handy, and the gunplay was fast and furious before he rid the territory of the Parson, solved the mystery that lay behind the racket, and incidentally found happiness with the mysterious outlaw girl whose trail had so often crossed with his own.
Like one of the other books released by Hale this month, Arizona Pay-Off has previously been published way back in 1954, whether under this title and as by Duke Patterson I don’t know. Like the other book this one is also a much longer read than many Black Horse Westerns. Again it comes in a the usual page length but the print is much smaller, there are more lines per page and chapters don’t start on a new page, they begin a couple of lines down from the end of the previous chapter.
The writing style is, I’d imagine, a product of its time – I haven’t read that many westerns from the 1950’s – and many terms used I’d have thought would have been more at home in a crime novel than a western; guns being referred to as rods, women being called dames and skirt, and trouble-makers as hoodlums, for instance. Perhaps those of you who have read more westerns from this time period could let me know if these terms were used regularly in westerns?
Tex Scarron sure has his work cut out for him as he finds himself trading bullets and wits constantly as he attempts to work out just what is going on in this part of Arizona and why. It soon becomes apparent that there is more than one person behind the troubles and the identity of this person is kept a secret by the author until he’s ready to reveal all, and this discovery came as a surprise to me. But the writer has more in store for both his characters and the reader by adding a neat twist nearer the end.
Arizona Pay-Off would fit under the traditional western umbrella in my mind, a tough hardboiled writing style full of entertaining characters that’ll have you wondering to their motives. Plenty of action and a touch of mystery lead to a final showdown that ties-up all the loose ends.
Arizona Pay-Off has its official release today, so if this book sounds like the type of story you enjoy then I’d suggest getting your order in soon as Black Horse Westerns tend to sell out fast.