cover image Firewind


Bill Pronzini, Pronzini. M. Evans and Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87131-555-7

Three outlaws arrive in the country town of Big Tree, Calif., on a blazing hot day of a long dry summer, in this well-crafted western by veteran Pronzini ( The Last Days of Horse-Shy Halloran ). A huge shipment of munitions is a-sittin' in Big Tree just a-waitin' to be stole--and they're a-goin' to do it. But the burglary gets bungled, an explosion sets the town on fire and there is only one way out of the parched valley for the townsfolk--by train. That way lies peril, however, for not only is the only locomotive in some disrepair, but the munitions are on board, and the fire is spreading fast--as fast as the train is racing. Pronzini, a pulp aficionado, adds to the race-against-time tension of his homespun stage with sideline subplots: a guilt-ridden love-triangle, an outlaw's hysterical memories of his father's death in a fire, a one-legged man's bitterness and misguided heroism--building to an acceptable, if rather bland, ending. While not attempting to transcend the genre, the author has added to it with his usual professionalism. (Apr.)