Jim Bannister hoped he wouldn’t be recognized when he rode into the tiny town of Antelope, Colorado, but he had to take the risk. His life depended on Syndicate Agent Boyd Selden whom he hoped to find there . . .
A few months earlier he had busted out of a jail in New Mexico, and there was a $12,000 price tag on his head . . .
Things were going smoothly enough – until he accidentally got pulled into a fight over Kelsey Harbord, daughter of the murdered ex-foreman of the powerful Buckhorn Ranch . . .
Jim knew that he was getting involved in a potential range war – but he couldn’t help feeling that this was his only chance to convince Selden that he had murdered in self-defence . . .
I have a few books by Dwight Bennett Newton and a handful of short stories in my collection. I think I’ve only read one of them though, and that was a long, long time ago, so I had no real recollection of reading him before I decided to read On the Dodge. I’d never wanted to start this series until I owned all 11 books, and I’ve still got four to find, but having given up on finding those absent books at a sensible price, I thought I’d give the first one a try.
Newton doesn’t tell the reader why Bannister is wanted for murder straight-away, or why he’s intent on tracking down Seldon who works for the syndicate that has placed the bounty on his head. This adds an air of mystery to the story which pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. Newton does eventually reveal why Bannister is on the dodge but I was still left wondering whether Seldon would help him or have him arrested and their meeting didn’t turn out as I expected.
The story is fairly straight-forward, and mixes plots that have turned up in many westerns, such as helping a damsel in distress and getting involved in a fight that isn’t one of the heroes making. Newton manages to make it all feel fresh and new though with his strong storytelling and believable characters that are flawed – Bannister often makes mistakes that could see him arrested or killed. Newton’s dialogue is well done and the whole tale has a tough edge to it. The story moves forward at a great pace and never had a dull moment.
On the Dodge is a very well told traditional western that easily held my interest, and left me looking forward to reading the second book (which I have) as soon as I can.