By John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
Piccadilly Publishing, April 2014
Originally published by Doubleday, 1974
Cartridge Creek was a typical New Mexico cattle town, not unlike the ones Will Leatherman had known in his days as a trail hand. But now Will was a partner in San Antonio Development, and he had come to find out why the Southern Pacific was so eager to sell the town, and whether he and his partner could turn it into a profitable investment.
It didn’t take long to discover why the railroad wanted out; the town had become a haven for gunmen, and the two heavily-armed factions were on the verge of all-out warfare. The decent folk were ready to leave town, the ranchers had taken to driving their stock to another railhead, and the money-making possibilities seemed nil.
But Will Leatherman had a strange feeling about Cartridge Creek, that somehow this town had more to offer than the usual business deal. Almost before he realized it, Leatherman found himself on the brink of finding something he’d almost forgotten he wanted, a place to really call home—or losing it forever. Then he knew he had to fight for Cartridge Creek.
This story is about greed for both money and power. Benteen creates some terrific characters to battle for these and battle they do in large scale. There are two well-written major gunfights that result in many corpses littering the streets of Cartridge Creek.
Violent acts and love cause Leatherman to reconsider what he wants from Cartridge Creek and leads to him facing massive odds. It’s the power of persuasion that helps rally the help he needs to take on the small army that stands in his way. As well as vivid descriptions Benteen comes up with believable dialogue that makes the speech heavy sections of this story a joy to read.
I mentioned love in the previous paragraph, and that’s an element of the story that works well as Leatherman finds himself competing for the affection of the woman in question and also leads to treachery, hate, and an exciting fight on top of a moving train that is breath-taking.
As the cover states the book originally came out as by Richard Meade, an author better known for writing westerns as John Benteen hence the use of this name on the cover too. As many will already know both these pseudonyms were used by Benjamin L. Haas and his name ought to be enough of a recommendation for all western fans to grab a copy of this book without me urging you to do so too.