Thursday, 8 April 2010

Herne the Hunter #17

THE HANGING
as by John J. McLaglen
Corgi, 1981

When bank robber George Wright decides to take advantage of his fleeting resemblance to Herne the Hunter by crediting his own crimes to the shootist, Herne becomes both hunter and hunted – he must track down Wright and his gang in order to acquit himself, and he must avoid a lynch mob of outraged citizens hell-bent on hanging him high…

This book is pretty much a straight forward track them down and kill them story. By having someone who looks like Herne as the main outlaw allows for a couple of cases of mistaken identity, which see Herne captured by a posse and nearly hanged. This part of the story echoes a scene from the classic Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in which the hanging is delayed so the “guilty” man can write a letter. In this case though Jed Herne uses his pencil as a weapon to escape, by stabbing it through one of his captors’ eyes.

As with much of the violence in the books written by the group of authors (in this case Laurence James) known today as The Piccadilly Cowboys, the above scene is described in all it’s gory detail as are all the other violent acts carried out during Herne’s attempts to clear his name.

James also includes a neat twist as to the identity of one of the outlaw gang, not that this has any effect on Herne’s cold-blooded mission to see the outlaws pay for blaming him for their crimes.

The Hanging may not be the best book Laurence James ever wrote, or even the best in the Herne the Hunter series, but it is a fast moving, brutal, action filled read. If you enjoy the blood-and-guts style of books then this should satisfy.

As a point of interest the man on the cover holding the rifle is the author, Laurence James.

2 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

I read a few of these in years gone by. NOt sure which titles, though but Herne was part of my teenage western diet. The books were in the shops alongside the Edges, and Adam Steele and Suddens

Steve M said...

Of all the series around at that time Herne was my favourite after Edge.