The murder trail was eight years old when Jeff Carmody got out of Huntsville Prison and the only clue he had was the rowel of a broken spur he had found that night beside Clint Merriweather’s body.
Booth Anson’s rambling Anvil range hemmed the tiny Merriweather ranch on all sides, but Clint’s widow, Anne, hung stubbornly on. Anson had killed to build his empire – his was a dead man’s range.
But a woman stood in his way now – would he baulk at killing a woman? That was when Carmody picked up his gun.
Dead Man’s Range was originally published in 1958 and is a much longer read than most BHW written today. The total page count is the same but the words are in much smaller print and there are more lines per page.
Paul Durst is a new author to me. A quick search on the Internet reveals he’s had quite a few books published, and if it’s the same person, wrote under at least four pseudonyms.
Dead Man’s Range is a superbly told tale that combines the search for vengeance and land grabbing. All the characters are well drawn and I was soon hooked on finding out who really killed Clint Merriweather, the obvious culprit seemingly having an airtight alibi.
Carmody is a rock-hard hero who doesn’t back down to anyone, even a group of gun carrying riders when he’s unarmed. There’s lots of tough dialogue and plenty of action, some quite brutal; such as the killing of a young girls puppy. The book ends with an exciting, and lengthy, showdown that brings about some surprising revelations. Paul Durst’s descriptions, be they of action sequences or landscape, are first rate, as is his pacing and plotting.
Overall the book didn’t come across as dated, perhaps the only hint as to its age being the absence of swearwords and how Wash, a black man, spoke; ‘Ah din’ think Ah’d ebber cross dat ole ribber again,’ for instance. Even though I had to read that line twice to make sure I’d understood it properly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book and I can only hope Hale publishes a few more of Paul Durst’s westerns.
Dead Man’s Range has an official release date of September 30th but is already available from Internet booksellers.