THE UNDERTAKER #4:
By George G. Gilman
NEL, January 1982
Brought up with death, he learned to kill.
Suddenly there were a lot of folks wanting to meet up with Barnaby Gold.
The man on the Trans-Territorial Stage for a start. He got his meeting – a short one. One item only on the agenda and a final conclusion. Very final.
The woman, too. She wanted a meeting, though of a rather different sort. She was luckier. Got what she seemed to be looking for.
But the final meeting was the one that Gold himself wanted. One he’d been seeking for a very long time. No ordinary meeting. Not when the preparations included three new coffins and three freshly-dug graves.
Barnaby Gold, The Undertaker, is perhaps George G. Gilman’s coldest character, a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his aims, as he points out during this story, there are ‘just two kinds of men I kill. Those that are trying to kill me. And those that get in the way of me doing what I want to do.’
Gilman includes enough backstory to fill in those who haven’t read the previous books to explain why Gold has a ten-thousand-dollar bounty on his head, which in turn enlightens new readers as to what drives the man known as The Undertaker towards the final confrontation he engineers, and this is done in a macabre style that makes for a dramatic last showdown.
The Undertaker is, perhaps, Gilman’s least known western series, coming some years after Edge and Adam Steele. This, the fourth book was meant to be the last and the ending certainly reads like it could have been, and for me would have made for an excellent conclusion to the series, but the publisher persuaded the author to write two more.
Like Edge with the razor he carries behind his neck and Steele with his stick-pin and thugee scarf, Barnaby Gold has an unusual weapon, a swivel Peacemaker, and he also has another gimmick; his screw together shovel that he uses to bury all those he kills, in fact insists on doing so.
Filled with tough-talking and acting characters this story races along at great pace, offering a couple of surprising revelations along the way. For those who have read the other Gilman series’, you’ll find less of the groan inducing puns, and the graphic violence somewhat toned down, but that is not a criticism in any way for this book is highly entertaining and a must read for all Gilman fans.