Sudden Gun

R. C. House, Author M. Evans and Company $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87131-655-4
Without forsaking the shoot-'em-up tone of his title, House ( Vengeance Mountain ) here offers a nicely drawn Portrait of the Outlaw as a Young Man. Deserted by their parents and brought up by relatives in western Kansas, all of the Sanders boys are pretty resilient. But Harry, the oldest, is mean, hard and driven. Age 21 in the 1880s, he's a crack shot with a hair-trigger temper. In the local saloon one night, Harry kills a stranger who is trying to shoot Ben Fitzpatrick, a well-known local outlaw. Many celebratory drinks later, Harry agrees to join a gang of rustlers, and his brothers, Ralph and Charlie, decide to come along, too. Harry soon adds to his reputation by murdering two teenagers and a ranchhand while stealing stock, thereby earning the enmity of Thomas Winters, head of the stockmen's association and grandfather of the murdered boys. House's careful, detailed narrative illuminates the emotional and physical torments that mold the Sanders brothers and shape their lives. Readers may be disappointed in the 20-year hiatus between the main body of the book and the inevitable denouement, but House's surprisingly affecting ending adds depth to a tale that transcends its genre. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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