Once in the Saddle

L.P. Holmes. Five Star, $25.95 (206p) ISBN 978-1-4328-2629-1
This action-packed hayburner, originally published in 1951 as a four-part serial in Ranch Romances magazine, showcases some of Holmes’s best writing in a career featuring more than 600 stories and 47 novels. The cowboy yarn begins on the Northern California coast with wrangler Wade Stagmire on the run from a bogus murder charge. He hires on with Gib Dawson, the crippled owner of Anchor Ranch, a cattle outfit rumored to be the target of a wealthy timber tycoon suspected of stealing cattle to feed his logging crews. Wade vows to help Gib beat the rustlers, but doesn’t count on ambush, murder, and a touchy romance with the tycoon’s niece. Just when Wade solves the scheme, a wanted poster and a corrupt town marshal bring his past to light, pitting Wade against a trigger-happy posse. There is lots of gun smoke, hot lead, and dead bodies before this ends with a rousing conclusion. Holmes is a crafty storyteller, adding suspense, foreshadowing, and neat plot twists that entertain. Even the 1950s-style dialogue is fun, with “mangy, cowardly whelp,” a salvo as damaging as a gunshot. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 04/01/2012
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