Tuesday 31 October 2023

WESTERN STORY - January 1958

WESTERN STORY January 1958
British Edition Vol. 13, No. 1

The four tales within this issue of the British Edition of Western Story were all originally published in the American pulp Star Western Vol. 49, No.2 published in July 1950. The covers of both of these pulps share the same foreground characters in different settings and the girl also has a hair colour change. I’ve posted the Star Western cover below.

The opening story, which is billed as the featured novelette, is Siren of Shamrock Ranch by Joseph Chadwick. Chadwick’s tale held my attention throughout as the outcast Kincaid attempts to prove a man set to hang is innocent by finding the real killer.
Kincaid has received a letter from an unknown party asking him to help. Half a thousand-dollar bill is included with the letter too, with the promise of the other half when he finds the real killer. Kincaid’s investigations are complicated by two young ladies who seem to hate each other and his feelings for them.
Siren of Shamrock Ranch was a fun read spoiled by the publisher’s inclusion of a line drawing at the beginning of the story that gives away the identity of the bad guy, although it does capture a scene from the tale well.

Next comes the first of three short stories, although why Worth Her Weight in Bullets! By Bob Obets is referred to as a short story when it’s two pages longer than the featured novelette I’m not sure – in Star Western it is called a novelette. This is a tale of a partnership welded by blood spilled in battle and endless cruel days on the trail that becomes strained when both Tom McCabe and Turk Buckley fall for the same nester girl, which will see them on opposite sides in a cattle rustling plot.
I wasn’t as keen on this story as the previous tale, as it seemed to take forever to get to the meat of the story and I did contemplate giving up on it after a few pages. Worth Her Weight in Bullets! ended as expected.

Girl Gun-Guard for the Devil! by Clifton Adams is a fast-paced short story about Morry Rockland who had sworn to kill a man and was within inches of doing so when he met the lush and tempting woman who, in her turn, had sworn the hunted killer must not die.
This was easily my favourite tale within this issue of Western Story as both Rockland and the girl have valid reasons to either kill or defend Jay Holland, and the story becomes a battle of wills.

The last tale, The Girl from Boothill by Francis H. Ames, is about a man searching for his brother’s killer. He hopes to find the truth in Pima Valley’s Boar’s Nest and conceals his identity behind a pseudonym. Trouble is a waitress recognizes him, although she keeps this to herself, but there is always the fear she will expose him for who he really is. Things are soon complicated by another young woman and there are some shocks to uncover about his brother. Everything is resolved neatly in a swift shootout.

The only author in this collection that I’ve read before is Clifton Adams. Of the others, Chadwick and Ames entertained me enough to want to read more by them. Obets’ story didn’t grab me enough to make me want to search out more of his work.

Overall, this was an entertaining enough pulp that is worth reading if you can find a copy.

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