Sunday 6 March 2011

Long Rider #19

as by Clay Dawson
Diamond, June 1992

Born to settler parents. Raised an Indian. He was Long Rider. A man caught between the blood and hate of his two peoples … He lived by his own code in a land where death came quick and vengeance could last a lifetime.

Long Rider gets more than he bargained for when he hires on to a cattle drive – raging stampedes, treacherous quicksand, and worse. Then the trail boss, the despicable Cass Dillworth, decides to herd the stock onto Chickasaw land.

The unruly cowboys wreak havoc amongst the Chickasaw – until the Lighthorsemen, the Chickasaw police force, decide to fight back. Now Long Rider’s taking aim at the men who hired him – and dealing death to the dirtiest players.

Having Gabe Conrad, Long Rider, join up with Dillworth and his cowboys is really only the backbone of this story. It’s the glue that joins all the other elements of the tale together, for the book moves from one unrelated incident to another throughout. In fact Conrad leaves the cowboys to ride with the Lighthorsemen but their duties keep bringing them back to face Dillworth.

In fact it’s the confrontations with Dillworth, who has moved his herd onto Chickasaw land that provides some of the most entertaining twists and turns to the plot. Each time the Lighthorsemen think they can move Dillworth on by enforcing one law or another, the trail boss has a legal answer that allows him to stay. How this will all be resolved makes for some fascinating reading.

One of the other set pieces, that really hasn’t anything to do with the cattle problem, is something I haven’t read about that often in westerns, and that is sport. Here, it’s a game played between to rival teams of Indians called toli. With Gabe having to play for his friend’s side, as they are short of players. I guess it’ll come as no surprise as to who scores the winning point.

Overall this is not a bad entry into this series – which ran for twenty-seven books – but I think I’d have liked the main plot about Dillworth to have taken up more of the story.

Excellent cover art.

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