By Norvell Page
Black Dog Books, 2011
For millions of readers, the name Norvell Page is synonymous with the pulse-pounding, red-hot adventures of The Spider. Years before he was guiding The Spider, Page was turning out dozens of short mysteries and Westerns.
Here, collected in paperback for the first time, are all of Norvell Page’s known Western works, including his first fiction sale, “Corralled.”
Trail of the Snake is another beautifully produced book from Black Dog Books. Sandwiched between an entertaining introduction by Bill Crider, and an informative look at Norvell Page’s history written by Tom Roberts we have five stories that originally appeared in the pulps during the 1930s, the last three tales being published under the pseudonym of N. Wooten Poge.
Trail of the Snake
Brand of the Cougar
Three of the stories are about lawmen bringing down outlaws and the other two have revenge as the main storyline. They are very fast moving and packed with action and colourful characters. Two of the stories are from Spicy Western Magazine, so have a number of attractive women in them that all seem to lose their clothes at some point. (The other three stories appeared in Masked Rider Western Magazine, Thrilling Western, and Western Trails) Some of the stories contain neat twists, a couple of which I didn’t anticipate, which in turn provide some neat outcomes to the tales.
Norvell Page’s writing stands-up well today and is very readable. Of course his use of words is of the times and his dialogue is of the period too, for instance horses are often referred to as “fuzz-tails” and characters speak thus: “Lift yore hands, yuh murderin’ kiyote! I’d jest admire a chance to drill yuh!”
If I haven’t convinced you that this book is worth reading then let me finish with Bill Crider’s quote from the back of the book: “Page’s Western tales are pure fun, filled with smoking guns, thundering hooves, and beautiful women…. If entertainment in the grand pulp style is what you’re looking for, you’ve surely come to the right place.”