Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Gunsmoke

By T.T. Flynn
Leisure, October 2009

The Mexicans call him Ponchito, Little Mild One. Buckshot Bledsoe knows the six-foot, scar-faced, blue-eyed man named Jim Tennant may look calm on the outside, but he’s burning with vengeance inside. Buckshot’s counting on that need for retribution to convince Jim to come back to San Angelo. Things there are bad and only getting worse. But to save the town, reclaim his lost love, and clear his name, Jim will have to face down the very men who came so close to killing him the first time—and he may not be lucky enough to survive twice.

Contents:
Dead Man Deputy First appeared in Western Story - 01/04/1941
Lodeville First appeared in Star Western – 08/1937 – as Lodeville Calls a Gun-Doctor
Shadow First appeared in Adventure Magazine – 07/23/1926
The Trail to Monterey First appeared in Fifteen Western Tales – 05/1945 – as Guns of the Lobo Trail

Before each story Leisure have included information about T.T. Flynn, for instance about his marriage to Mary C. DeRene, and, of course, about his life as a writer and how each of the four stories in Gunsmoke came about, even saying how much he was paid for a couple of them.

T.T. Flynn packs a lot into these short stories, meaning they are fast moving tales filled with action. His descriptions of both people and settings are second to none. He also uses a lot of dialogue, and it’s this that gives away the age of these tales, as there is a lot more ‘cowboy lingo’ than you’d expect to find in a western written today - not that this type of language is detrimental to this excellent collection of stories.

The first two stories fall into the traditional western category, involving revenge, rustling, stampedes and gold mining. Both these tales have touches of mystery, for instance who is the wounded stranger who arrives in Lodeville. The first story also has a superbly drawn bad guy who also seems to be one step ahead of the hero, Jim Tennant. The fourth story is set during the Mexican war and has a twisting storyline that keeps the reader – and it’s heroes – wondering just what is going on. This story also has the strongest female role.

But it is the third tale that was the standout story for me. This is set around the railroad, and involves a hardworking father of twelve who gets fired due to being drunk whilst celebrating the birth of triplets. Flynn really creates a wonderful feeling of hopelessness for this man as his world comes crashing down. The main element of the plot is a horrific fire in one of the railroad’s buildings during a snowstorm, and it’s how different men react to this that comes across so strongly, the story becoming an exceptional study of human character.

Never having read anything by T.T. Flynn before, I can definitely say, that on the strength of these four stories, I’ll be hunting through my collection of old western pulps for more of his work very soon, and checking Leisure’s back catalogue for more of his books.

Gunsmoke should hit the shelves on October 1st, although it seems to be available from Internet booksellers now.

3 comments:

Bill Crider said...

"Easy-to-Read Print!" Tells us something about the perceived audience for westerns, I think.

Chris said...

I don't know, I like the easy-to-read print. It really comes in handy whenever I get tired of actually holding my book and want to read it from five feet away instead!

In all seriousness, Bill is definitely right. I think this blog, Gary Dobb's blog, my blog, etc, prove that the audience for the Western is much more diverse than it appears. (Although I can't tell you how many "Oh, my grandfather used to read Louis L'Amour" comments I've received since I started my blog.)

Steve, loved this description: "This is set around the railroad, and involves a hardworking father of twelve who gets fired due to being drunk whilst celebrating the birth of triplets." Father of twelve? Excuse me while I faint at the thought of that! (:

Joanne Walpole said...

Steve, I was very excited when I found out you were going to review a TTF. I'm thrilled you liked his stories because I am a big fan, as a reader and as a writer, of his work. For me, he's definitely up there with Louis L'Amour for storytelling, detail and character. You and I are going to need a lot of coffee next time we meet up. ;-)