THE RIMFIRE RIDERS
By John Robb
The Children’s Press, 1968
This is the first western I ever read. It’s the story that got me hooked on, and began my lifelong passion for, western books. It could also explain why The Trailsman series is one of my favourites today – but more of that later.
I guess I’d have been under ten years old when I was given this book. I enjoyed it that much that I soon found myself the owner of two other John Robb westerns. All three starred the same hero. A scout who was very fast with his twin Colt Dragoons, a man called Catsfoot.
This story sees Catsfoot taking on a Mexican bandit called Janamo and his gang. Janamo is a giant of a man who is also extremely fast with his guns, although he likes to use his fists too. Janamo is the terror of the area but everyone is too scared to take him on. The army can’t spare any soldiers as they have their hands-full with an Apache uprising, so Catsfoot steps in.
Catsfoot is definitely a ‘white hat’ hero. He fights for justice, doesn’t use bad language (he wouldn’t I guess when you consider the age group this book is aimed at), and only kills when there’s no other choice – for instance in this story he takes on a small band of Apaches and rather than kill them he’s good enough to shoot their weapons from their hands! Fanciful stuff, and not very realistic, but for a young child reader exciting and dramatic. The final showdown between Catsfoot and Janamo in a classic one-on-one fast draw in a dusty street also stayed in my mind.
Even today I found this book to be an entertaining and action filled read. I was also surprised at how savage it is in places when you think that the book was written for the children’s market.
I mentioned the Trailsman series earlier and that I thought Catsfoot could be the reason I like those books so much. When I compare Skye Fargo and Catsfoot there are many similarities, both are fast guns, both scout for the army, both wear buckskins, both are expert trackers etc. It’s almost like Fargo is the adult version of Catsfoot.
After having decided to read this again I’m sure I’ll be reading my other two Catsfoot westerns once more, and the other John Robb westerns I’ve managed to find thanks to the Internet.