Monday, October 21, 2019


Saddle up hombres!  It’s time to  roundup some rustlers! 

I grew up when Westerns ruled the movies and TV.  Western novels were some of the most popular literature of the time and it seemed as if the whole population of the United States had Western fever.

Our nation was formed on the backs of pioneers and those that tamed the Old West.  Ever since explorers crossed the Mississippi there have been tales of stalwart heroes, Indian wars, barroom brawls, cattle rustlers, bank and stage robbers, cattle barons, gunfighters, brave townsfolk, hard-working ranchers and cowboys and lawmen.

The Old West was a new frontier fraught with danger, the promise of untold wealth and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Men were tough and the women who went with them were just as resilient.

Life was hard and only the persistent, tough-as-nail pioneers and visionaries could survive.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make a living.

Literature glamorized and painted a picture of the men and women of the Old West almost as if they were super-human.  Nothing could have further from the truth.

Life was tough, hard times and hard work took it toll on bodies and minds.  It took a special kind of person to survive.

Still, dime novels were popular, radio and movie Western serials kept audiences glued to their seats and Western actors and actresses were the stuff of legends.

Author John Layne has recaptured the magic of the Western dime novels.

His Gunslingers A Story Of The Old West, published by Newman Springs Publishing, is filled with memorable characters from lawmen to renegades and classic Western locales.

It’s a story of how Western justice was difficult to enforce and sometimes it took extraordinary measures to see outlaws brought to justice.

U.S. Deputy Marshall Joel Thornton has put his six-shooters aside and has retired just outside the town named after him in Texas.

He owns a ranch and is slowly building a herd and learning to take care of other ranch business.

It’s a tough life but he’s confident that he will soon earn enough money to make a comfortable living.  He lives there with an old friend and his daughter.

Elizabeth, his daughter had returned after several years back East.  Not long after she arrived an old enemy of Joel’s shows up with his gang, shoots and nearly kills him, steals his money, kills his friend, wounds his daughter and rustles his cattle.

Hurt, but not deterred, he asks his daughter to track down his old friend, another U.S. Deputy Marshall: Ben Chance.  She manages to get help and her father survives.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.  The action shifts to Elizabeth and her attempts to find Ben.

Along the way she tangles with some Indians and is saved by a mysterious gunslinger that agrees to help her in her quest.

They find Ben, who also is saved by another gunslinger who is on a mysterious mission of his own.

Elizabeth, the two gunslingers and Ben head out to find the man who shot her father, retrieve his stolen cattle, bring him to justice and somehow manage to stay out of danger-hopefully.

This is the Old West as it was meant to be.  Outlaws, rustlers, Indians marauders, fast-draws, a dastardly villain and dusty and downtrodden locations all combine to make Gunslingers a memorable tale about the days when men were men and women wouldn’t have it any other way.  

The author really opens up the myths behind the Old West, populates his story with real people (not fabricated hard and unrealistic as steel heroes), and captures the true spirit of what life was like west of the Mississippi.

So pull up a chair partner, set your six-shooter on the bar, grab a shot of rotgut and get ready for a rip-roaring tale of the Old West laced with true grit, tumbling tumbleweeds and enough shootouts to satisfy the most ornery of cowpokes. 

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