Trailin’! ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Trailin’!
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 247
Words: 71K



Synopsis:

A young man, Anthony Woodbury, longs for adventure but his father is determined to see him lead the idle life of a rich gentleman. When Woodbury Senior is shot in some sort of midnight duel, he reveals that his last name is actually Pard and that Anthony’s mother died giving birth to him. Anthony Pard sets out west to track down the man who killed his father, a man named Drew who Pard was once partners with.

Along the path of vengeance, Anthony tames an untameable horse, romances several women, faces down outlaws and in general shows manly western qualities. Drew is desperate to talk to Anthony but knows the young man won’t give him time to talk, so he sets out his best man to capture Anthony alive. This fails and leaves the hunter with the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth. Nash, the hunter, then gangs up with the outlaws Anthony faced down and attempts to kill Anthony and the woman Nash was interested in, who appears to have fallen in love with Anthony.

At a final standoff in an abandoned cabin, Anthony is preparing for a final charge against the desperadoes when Drew rides up and under a flag of truce, tells Anthony the true story of why Drew killed Woodbury/Pard. Anthony is Drew’s son, who Pard kidnapped because he couldn’t have the woman who Drew married.

Nash and the outlaws leave and Anthony is reconciled to Drew and ready to marry the girl.

My Thoughts:

This was enjoyable while being a bit on the flowery side for me. Anthony Pard is definitely a Gary Stu but the author makes no bones about presenting him that way. The whole point is that his natural abilities come from his biological father, ie, the blood will tell.

Once Anthony went from Woodbury to Pard, it didn’t take long to realize he’d also be going from Pard to Drew by the end of the book. It was more of a will Drew get the chance to tell his son the truth before Pard guns him down in cold vengeance than anything.

Most of the flowery stuff came when Pard was interacting with the girl. A girl who was a restauranteur and not pretty but beautiful to every man who saw her. I rolled my eyes so much I’m surprised they didn’t fall out. Thankfully, those sections weren’t real big so it was possible to wade through them without getting bogged down. Part of the Western Genre is the Mystique of the Feminine and while I have no problems with that per se, sometimes Brand lays it on a little thick. Sometimes he uses a delicate paint brush, but sometimes he uses a trowel. This book was more trowel than paintbrush.

Even with that and the average rating, nothing here made me want to stop reading Brand’s books. So I’ll keep on trucking.

Ps,

that stupid title! Do you know how difficult it is going to be in the future to track this book down based on title? I’m never going to remember to drop the “g”, add an apostrophe and the exclamation mark. Sometimes authors think they are clever and all they are doing is complicating their readers lives. I feel very put upon at the moment and life is barely worth living because of this. * sulks *

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Riders of the Silences ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Riders of the Silences
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 224
Words: 64K



Synopsis:

Pierre Le Rouge, an orphan, was brought up by Jesuit priests. Not only was his mind trained but his body as well. His instructor meant for him to conquer the Northern Parts of Canada and it would take a tough man to do so. Pierre finds out he isn’t an orphan in a message from his father, saying he’s been shot by McGurk, the legendary gunfighter and the father wants to see Pierre before dying. Pierre is the bastard of this man but quits everything and rides off to see his father. He is given a cross by his Instructor, one that has brought him luck.

Pierre finds his father and ends up wounding McGurk in a card game. McGurk had never been touched before in a gun fight and no man had survived before Pierre. Pierre also killed some other men and went down the road of outlawry. He runs away from the law and in a blizzard finds a young girl trapped beneath a downed tree. A landslide occurs and Pierre thinks the girl is dead. He is rescued by a gang of blood thirsty outlaws and joins their gang.

One of the gang, young Jack, turns out to be Jacqueline, the leaders daughter. She falls in love with Pierre but he’s too dumb to realize it. Pierre becomes the best of the gang, best of fighting, best of planning, best of shooting. During this time McGurk has disappeared. Pierre, now known as Red Pierre, ends up going to a dance with Jacqueline and there meets the girl he thought had died years ago. Jacqueline is jealous and makes the girl think she is living with Pierre.

The gang, made up of seven, begin to disappear one by one and they realize McGurk has returned to exact his vengeance on them all. The girl chases Pierre into the mountains, Jacqueline chases Pierre into the mountains and Pierre is chasing McGurk. Jacqueline realizes Pierre will never love her and finds the one surviving member of the gang, who had always loved her. Pierre and the girl get together after Pierre faces off against McGurk and strips him of all manhood and dignity, by not killing him.

My Thoughts:

I was ready for a full western novel and I got one! Hurray!!

While this had elements that had me rolling my eyes (the “lucky” cross pendant being the most obvious), I still had a lot of fun reading this. Part of that fun though, was me imagining Red Pierre and McGurk as Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber (see my Currently Reading post to get the images if you missed it). Imagining Bob the Tomato as a Jesuit Priest in Training had me in stitches and Larry as the menacing McGurk just made me slap my hand to my forehead.

You can’t go into this expecting deep world building, complex characterization and intricate plot lines. What you are getting is an action/adventure story in a western setting with bigger than life people and situations. Of course, with what is being put out today, I question whether what is in this book can even be described as bigger than life anymore.

Another thing in this book’s favor is its brevity. At just over 200 pages, I was able to devour it quickly. Sometimes a book needs to be like a bag of chips. Open, eat, done. No 3hours of prep work, no 72 minutes of sticking in the oven at 324degrees, no setting the table and bringing out the cut crystal and good china. Nothing but instant gratification. As long as you don’t live on chips, or their literary equivalent, you’re all set.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Currently Reading & Quote: Riders of the Silences

Here’s a quote from the beginning of the book, Riders of the Silences, by Max Brand.

But nowhere in the vast spread of the mountain-desert country was there a greater legend than the story of Red Pierre and the phantom gunfighter, McGurk.

Of course, my mind went here:

I’m sure you can tell who is supposed to be Red Pierre and who is supposed to be McGurk. If you’re not familiar with who these Veggies really are, they are the main characters from a children’s show called VeggieTales and that is Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.

They are the furthest thing you can get from Legendary Men of the West, hence why my mind went there. The dichotomy is simply too delicious to ignore.

Now I’m just imagining Bob and Larry on horses shooting at each other, hahahahaaa.

Hole In The Wall Barrett ★★★☆½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Hole In The Wall Barrett
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 18
Words: 5.5K



Synopsis:

A tough guy lawyer defends a murderer who poisoned his own uncle. The lawyer does this because his wife asks him too and tells him the defendant is her lover. The lawyer wins the case, apologizes to his wife for making her think he didn’t love her and promises to do better if she’ll come back. She does. The lawyer then has a “private” meeting with the defendant in his soundproof room, which we see him in warming up a poker and oiling up a whip.

My Thoughts:

Brand starts out the story by clearly defining who the villain and hero are by how they look. You can tell he is being over the top sarcastic and ironic. It’s not immediately obvious he’s being sarcastic, but by the end when it fades out just as the husband is about to horsewhip the murderous scum who dared mess with his wife, it’s all there in black and white.

How the lawyer makes the jury think his client is innocent by drinking the poison was rather neat. How he makes sure it doesn’t affect him by eating raw eggs beforehand and having a doctor right outside the courtroom to pump his stomach, well, that is going above and beyond the call of duty. But he gets his client acquitted. Of course, Justice is served. That had me pumping my fist and exclaiming “Oh yeah!!!”

I am finding that these short stories by Brand are working great for me. It is just enough of a different taste from my typical SFF/Classic that it cleanses the palate but without being long enough to give me a literary tummy ache.

Technically, the title is Hole-in-the-Wall Barrett, but if I ever go searching for this title by search, there is no way I’m going to remember all those stupid hyphens. You’re welcome, future me.

★★★☆½

John Ovington Returns ★★★☆☆

johnovingtonreturns (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: John Ovington Returns
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 20
Words: 6.5K

Synopsis:

John Ovington returns to his ancestral home in Connecticut, to find a series of letters between his Great Grandfather and his fiance. Great Grandfather goes to war, the girl marries someone else and Great Grandfather vows he’ll get the girl in the end.

John Ovington finds out he has a new neighbor, who looks exactly like Great Grandfather’s fiance and that she is running off with a beau. She writes a series of letters exactly the same as the Great Grandfather’s fiance and history begins to repeat itself.

John Ovington gets the girl and breaks the cycle that Fate had ordained for him.

My Thoughts:

For some reason, almost all the editions show this as being a full novel at over 500 pages. It is just a short story at 16-20 pages and I sure do feel bad for anyone who bought it (even for 99cents) thinking it was a full book.

The synopsis pretty much says it all. This is some sort of love, ghost, thingy, story. I tagged it western, but considering it takes place in Connecticut, probably “frontier” might have been more appropriate. I’m guessing this was for a magazine back when it was first published. It has 3 chapters and that fits with a serial short story in a magazine spread over 3 issues.

It was actually nice to read something so short and then be done. I spent 30 minutes or less reading it and then bam, finished. Truth be told, I’ve probably spent more time searching out the correct page number and writing this little piece than I did reading. While it feels like cheating (I’ll including this as a “book” in my monthly roundup numbers), I think that including my Page Count numbers more than makes up for it.

Giddy’up!

★★★☆☆

Harrigan ★★★☆☆

harrigan (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Harrigan
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 225
Words: 65K

 

Synopsis:

Harrigan, a red irishman, is in Hawaii, looking for something to keep him moving. He joins in a fight and backs up a black irishman and finds out he’s a captain of a vessel. They go their separate ways until Harrigan’s wanderings bring him to the docks. He sees the captain’s ship taking off and jumps aboard. The Captain takes him aboard as a common sailor but promises that he’s going to break Harrigan.

A woman sees Harrigan being broken and tries to intervene, thus making things even worse. This brings her to the Captain’s attention however and suddenly there is even more bad blood between Harrigan and him. A hurrican destroys the ship and the woman, the Captain and Harrigan all end up on a deserted island. The woman uses deception to keep a fragile peace and both men abide by it until they are rescued.

They are rescued by a crony of the Captain who is even more powerful and even worse than the Captain. The breaking of Harrigan begins all over again. The new Captain is a cruel hard man and his crew eventually mutinies. Harrigan gets dragged in to protect the woman and the old Captain gets involved to try to take her away from Harrigan. Things go badly for everyone, the ship is destroyed and our trio make their way to some homestead in South America. There they find out that The Great War has started and they all, unbeknownst to each other, join up.

 

My Thoughts:

Love triangle. And yet I never once considered putting this book down. If you want two testosterone laden Irishmen trying to beat the living daylights out of each other and break the other’s spirit, all the time, this is the book for you!

And for anyone who doesn’t know (cause I didn’t for years and years) red irish and black irish refer to the hair color, not their skin.

This was a story about men being stupid and yet glorious all at the same time. I laughed, I groaned, I sympathized, I shook my head and rolled my eyes. Why I didn’t abandon this? Because the action between them was so intense it was like the words jumped off the page and grabbed hold of me and didn’t let me go. While their hands were around each other’s throat, they were just as much around mine. But even with that, it still only gets 3 stars because of love triangles and stupidity.

Also, this isn’t a western. It is a Men’s Adventure Story.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Above the Law ★★★☆☆

abovethelaw (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Above the Law
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 83
Words: 22K

 

Synopsis:

Black Jim is a notorious outlaw known for robbing stage coaches of their payload of gold. Ruthless and a deadshot, several small towns have banded together and offered a big reward for his capture, dead or alive.

An out of work actress conceives a plan to have her partner pretend to be Black Jim, “capture” him, take the reward money and then once she has left, have her partner reveal he really isn’t Black Jim. What could go wrong with that? Of course, the real Black Jim shows up and takes the actress prisoner and also the other actor.

Black Jim is living in a community of outlaws, who are “Above the Law” and when he brings a woman into the mix, things get heated. The actor devolves and fits in with the other outlaws and they plan to kill Black Jim, steal all of his stolen gold and take the Actress for themselve.

Black Jim and the actress are married, make a daring escape and decide to go legit.

 

My Thoughts:

A classic “woman finds out outlaw has a heart of gold”. Not as mawkish as I was afraid it might be at the beginning. However, the short length saved it from becoming tedious.

This is my 3rd foray into the western genre. While L’Amour I would consider a success (in my reading I mean), Zane Grey was a complete flop. Based on this story, ol’ Max Brand is going to fall squarely in the middle.

Honestly, I’m hoping to read as much of his stuff as possible just to change up my reading.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)