Monday, 28 September 2009

The Plains of Laramie

by Lauran Paine
Leisure, October 2009

Frank Travis had no idea why he was being chased. He might not have been able to get away from the posse thundering after him, but no way in hell was he going down without a fight. And sure enough, he managed to down one of his pursuers…before being killed himself.

Parker Travis vows to get vengeance on the vigilantes when he hears his brother was murdered for a crime he didn’t commit. He doesn’t care that the man Frank downed was the sheriff of Laramie. And he doesn’t care that the dead man’s brother has taken over as the new sheriff. Because no one is above the law, and Parker is determined to see justice is done.

Having read a couple of Lauran Paine’s books before and not being very impressed with them I must admit to picking this one up with some trepidation. Seeing that The Plains of Laramie contained three stories I wondered if Paine would have the same impact on me as Louis L’Amour (based on the few books of his I’ve read), that I'd prefer his short stories to his full-length novels?

Boothill’s Ferryman
First appeared in Double-Action Western, 04/1957
Vermilion KidFirst appeared in Double-Action Western, 09/1955
The Plains of LaramieNo previous publishing history is included in my copy.

Boothill’s Ferryman sees a new ferryman raising his prices to the annoyance of the townsfolk. The ferryman is soon accused of shooting a rancher in the back and the sheriff locks him up. Then the ferryman’s kin arrive and this leads to jailbreak and robbery. Outwitted at every turn, it seems the sheriff is either going to be the scapegoat or hero. The story is jam-packed with action, some of the violence quite graphic. The tale finishes with a surprising twist that leads to a triumphant, yet bitter, ending.

Vermilion Kid starts with a resentful Kid mulling over his treatment by a woman. When this young lady’s father is killed he attempts to find the culprit, only to find himself accused of the murder. If you enjoy programmes like CSI you’ll also enjoy how the killer is caught; it’s all to do with how a bullet passes through a horse. Fascinating reading.

The Plains of Laramie is the feature story of this collection, and it’s to this tale that the opening blurb applies. After an action packed opening Paine hooks the reader with many questions about what could have happened to the missing $3.000 as only $9.000 is retrieved from a $12.000 robbery. Paine explores the folly of snap judgements and how these lead to senseless killings and the desire for revenge. There’s a well-written discussion between Parker Travis and the new sheriff about the lust for vengeance due to the loss of a brother. Paine ends this story with an ingenious method of flushing the bad guy out of his hiding place.

So did this collection cause me to revaluate my opinion on Lauran Paine’s writing? Definitely! I really enjoyed the first tale, this just edging the main story in my opinion, and I’ll be delving into my collection for more Lauran Paine books soon.

The Plains of Laramie has a release date of October 1st, but is available now.

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