By Giles Tippette
Dell, February 1980
First publication 1970
If the law didn’t get you, a bounty hunter would, when you were wanted: dead or alive.
Carpetbaggers stole his land, and a jury had called self-defense murder. As he saw it, Wilson Young was left with precious few options. So he broke out of jail, strapped on his gun, and made a living the only way he could – by robbing banks and growing into a Texas-sized legend.
Wilson Young makes for a very strong central character, he’s tough yet can make simple mistakes that put him and his two companions (childhood friends) into deadly danger.
Tippette’s storytelling is captivating, gritty and well plotted. His dialogue is believable and the action scenes, and their aftermath, are hard-hitting. The darker side of the story is often balanced with moments of humour.
The story is told in the first person, through Wilson Young.
Fallen on hard-times the three main characters struggle to make money – their careers as outlaws don’t always go according to plan. This leads to squabbles between them that could become their downfall. During all this Wilson Young becomes infatuated with a Mexican girl, a beautiful woman who could become part of his future…
This is the first book by Giles Tippette I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last, in fact this became the first of a nine book series. It was also filmed as The Spikes Gang.
The Spikes Gang was directed by Richard Fleischer and starred Lee Marvin as Harry Spikes, Gary Grimes as Wilson Young, Ron Howard as Les, and Charles Martin Smith as Tod.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this film (it can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube). Parts of it are taken from the book, including the character Kid White (played by Arthur Hunnicutt), but the main difference is that Lee Marvin’s character doesn’t exist in the book!
As is nearly always the case for me regarding books made into films, I found the book to be the most enjoyable of the two, but both are very entertaining.