Wednesday 19 June 2024


By Gil Martin
Cover art by W. Francis Phillips
New English Library, January 1976
Originally published by Berkley Publishing, 1973

Lonnie Brice was travelling alone . . . but not for long. Swept into a savage storm of violence brought on by the notorious Nolan gang, Lonnie is faced with a life-and-death decision. Does he become one of them, a murderer and a rapist, or does he resist?

With the help of Charity, a young girl held captive by the gang, Lonnie stages a dangerous struggle to free himself from the ruthless band of outlaws and from the punishment they have planned for him.

Arriving in a town just in time to be mistaken for a bank robber, Lonnie Brice finds himself in jail, which in turn leads to him killing a deputy to stop the lawman beating one of the outlaw gang to death. Brice escapes with the prisoner he saved and finds himself a reluctant member of the Nolan gang. Riding with them he witnesses the atrocities they commit with obvious relish. Brice is sickened by this, especially how they treat women, but is powerless to stop them. He wants to leave the gang but is told the only way this can happen is when he dies. When a young girl is taken captive, Brice does his best to defend her and this leads to a desperate attempt to get away from the outlaws. But the gang aren’t going to let Brice and the girl escape their clutches easily and set out to kill them both.

Bad Times Coming is a brutal story, told in a hard-boiled style that suits the harshness of the tale perfectly. The story is told in the first person through Lonnie Brice. He has a lot of dark thoughts and struggles to accept the outlaw life he’s fallen into by bad luck. Even though he hates the men he now rides with, he cannot see how he can leave them except in death. The author writes Brice’s feelings of despair extremely well and his descriptions of the violent scenes are hard-hitting and graphic. One of the highlights of the tale is a train robbery which doesn’t go as well as the Nolan gang hope, the aftermath of which is captured beautifully by cover artist W. Francis Phillips. The ending of the story wasn’t quite what I expected but perfectly suited the tone of the tale.

There has been a lot of speculation as to the identity of Gil Martin, and I think it’s safe to say it’s a pseudonym as copyright is assigned to Martin Overy. As far as I know only seven westerns came out under the name Gil Martin, and at least one of them was also published as by Martin Overy. I’ve also seen comments stating that Gil was the name of Overy’s wife but whether this is true I have no idea, nor whether the rumour is right that she wrote the books but they were submitted by her husband to publishers as it was easier for male authors to get westerns accepted for publication than women. Whoever Gil Marin really is matters not to me. All I know is that the two books I’ve read so far by this author are great reads if you like your books to have a dark tone to them, and I’m looking forward to reading another very soon.

1 comment:

James Seger said...

I'd be happy if Piccadilly or someone else could figure out the Gil Martin mystery as both of the novel's you've reviewed have caught my attention.