THE MASKED GUN
By Barry Cord
Chivers Press, 2001
Originally published 1963
Sheriff Mido Peters tensed himself readying for a lawless New Year’s Eve in Labelle. Rich Jake Grady had promised drinks on the house to any man that night, and this, the sheriff knew, would mean nothing but drunkenness and riot.
But the sheriff got even more than he bargained for. He had not expected gunplay, and when the bullets were exchanged between two strangers in town causing death to mark the holiday, it was plain that trouble was brewing – bad trouble.
These strangers would not have been in town alone, the lawman figured, and the shooting looked like the beginning of a night of gun-thunder and violence.
Barry Cord tells this fast moving tale from the viewpoints of several characters thus enabling him to develop their very different personalities. It soon becomes apparent that each character is going to have an important part to play in the outcome of the story, particularly one of the outlaws who has most people believing he’s a U.S. Marshal, and, of course, the main character, Ben Codine, a well known bounty hunter who has been set up as an outlaw.
The plot is fairly complex and the main reason for the outlaws to be in Labelle is kept a secret for quite a while, and this is where the fact that the story mainly takes place on New Years Eve becomes an important factor to the plot.
It wasn’t long before I was wondering how the story would be resolved, due to Barry Cord’s superb ability to lead the reader – and his characters – into believing one thing and then adding a twist to completely throw you off track.
Barry Cord is the pseudonym Peter Germano preferred to write his westerns under and here he again proves he’s an author worth reading.