Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sage Tower -- Dean Owen (Dudley Dean McGaughey)


As I promised Juri a while back, here are my comments on the Dean Owen novel SAGE TOWER. This review was originally published in the Western apa, OWLHOOT.
The title of this short novel isn’t a geographical reference, as I thought it might be when I first picked it up. Instead it’s the name of the hero. Published as half of an Ace Double Western (with Ray Hogan’s KILLER ON THE WARBUCKET on the other side), it has some of the best blurb page copy I’ve read.

There were three things that brought Sage Tower out of Texas:
an eight-sided goldpiece;
a dying Mexican woman;
a message reading: there are no flowers on Emilio’s grave.

If you can read that and not want to read the book, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am, compadres. As usual with a Dean Owen novel, the plot is complex, there’s a lot of back-story, and the characters are well-drawn. He packs a lot into a short (in this case, 118 pages) novel. Here we’ve got lust, revenge, buried loot, murder, gun battles, and several brutal, well-written fistfights, all in tough, lean, hardboiled Western style. This is a fine novel and only makes me want to read more of McGaughey’s books.

4 comments:

Scott Cupp said...

Makes me want to read it too.

Anonymous said...

James, I bought a Dean Owen novel last week called Triple Target. It is an Ace Hardcover that is the size of a paperback. In fact it looks like a paperback cover was just pasted onto the front of the book. It is in my very large stack of books to be read.

Danny

Keith Chapman said...

You can't go wrong with this author, James! I suspect he's a "writer's writer". Too often, it becomes hard to read fiction without watching the wheels of the machinery turn. With "Dudley Dean" this is in itself a pleasure, because the wheels do their stuff so admirably. I was recently given three of his Gold Medals in Linford Western Library (Ulverscroft UK) large-print reissues, withdrawn from libraries: GUN THE MAN DOWN, THE MAN FROM RIONDO and GUN IN THE VALLEY. Everyone a gem and looking very well read!
Coincidentally, I also have that KILLER ON THE WARBUCKET in large-print, too. My feeling is that a newer generation of writers has largely lost the art of telling a well-crafted western (or any) yarn at these shorter lengths. As you well know -- it ain't as easy as it can be made to look!

Juri said...

Sounds absolutely great, James!