Friday, 31 July 2020


By Gary McCarthy
Doubleday, July 1992

Darby Buckingham – known because of his dandy hat as the Derby Man – is a former bareknuckle prizefighter turned dime novelist whose flamboyant exploits are as spellbinding as any he invents.

When his darling fiancée, Dolly Beavers, fails to meet him for their announced wedding, the Derby Man strikes out for Reno in search of his one true love, convinced that she must be the victim of foul play. What other possible reason could there be for the bride-to-be’s disappearance?

Darby’s companion on this noble quest is one Austin Applegate, a privileged and overzealous aspiring writer determined to prove himself worthy of inheriting Darby’s position as popular chronicler of Western adventure. Looking after this young tenderfoot fan while tracking down Dolly’s captor on a danger-ridden trail that winds through Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado, Darby wonders if he will live long enough to rescue his ladylove.

As distressing disclosures about his voluptuous intended’s past keep smacking up against the chivalrous Darby’s fondest illusions, he must face the possibility that Dolly’s abduction was not against her will – and wonder if wedding bells are really in the cards for the incomparable Derby Man.

Ten years after Bantam Books published The Derby Man #9: The Rail Warriors, leaving readers with a cliff-hanger ending as to why Dolly Beavers didn’t meet Darby Buckingham at Promontory Point for their wedding, Doubleday put out the 10th book as a hardback. Finally, fans of the series could find out what happened.

This new story starts shortly after book nines ending and sees a depressed Derby Man setting out to find Dolly, a hopeless task as he has nothing in the way of leads. It is on this first train journey to Reno that he meets Austin Applegate. 

Like all the other Derby Man novels this one contains a great mix of excellent characters, exciting action and humorous passages. Darby’s dislike for riding horses providing some comical scenes. Darby gets to use his fists regularly and his experience as an ex-circus strongman comes in handy too.

As the Derby Man gets closer to finding his missing intended, so the story picks up in pace and there are attempts on his and Applegate’s lives. Once the truth is out, there are more shocks in store for various people and anger is unleashed in swift and deadly violence that brings the book to a satisfying end.

Many of the previous Derby Man stories have revolved around historical events as Darby bases his pulp novels around them. This time Gary McCarthy keeps everything fictional but this isn’t in anyway detrimental to the story and this tenth book proves to be just as entertaining as all the others.

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