cover image Death Ground

Death Ground

Edward Gorman, E. Gorman. M. Evans and Company, $14.95 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-87131-545-8

This is a western for grown-ups, written in a lean, hardboiled style that should appeal to readers who ``don't read westerns.'' In the waning years of the frontier, in an unnamed territory, bounty-hunter Guild celebrates a joyless 54th birthday in a brothel. Guild is acting as bodyguard for Merle Rig, a very unpleasant man who is soon murdered, along with a teenager whom Guild had reluctantly hired as an assistant. Suspicion points to Kriker, a notoriously violent mountain man, bank robber and leader of a secluded settlement of former low-lifes. The laconic Guild, carrying his own personal guilt about a dead child, sets out to bring Kriker to justice, accompanied by the nasty Bruckner brothers, sheriff's deputies. Kriker, meanwhile, is nursing his adoptive daughter, using a ``granny woman's'' folk medicine that is useless against what turns out to be cholera. Gorman ( Guild and the Jack Dwyer mysteries) uses the period setting effectively and draws his characters with a deft hand. (September)