Friday, June 21, 2013

Forgotten Books: Ute Revenge - Paul Ledd (Paul Joseph Lederer)

Paul Ledd (real name Paul Joseph Lederer) was a very prolific author of series Westerns during the Eighties, working on, among others, Shelter, Ruff Justice, Easy Company, and Lone Star. As Logan Winters, he wrote the cult favorite supernatural Western series SPECTROS. UTE REVENGE, however, is a stand-alone novel, and a good one.

The story begins in 1850 with the arrival in the Colorado Rockies of Georges Lacroix, a French fur trapper. After a clash with Ute Indians, they burn down the cabin Lacroix has built, so to even the score with them, he kidnaps a woman of their tribe and takes her as his wife. When she gives birth to a son, the Utes regard this as a stain on their honor and set out to kill Lacroix, the woman Morning Light, and their son Mantaka. The Utes have their revenge on Lacroix and Morning Light, but Mantaka escapes and grows up pretty much on his own, able to speak Ute and French, but no English. He is befriended by some prospectors and helps them find gold, which brings even more people into the mountains. Years pass as Mantaka grows into a massive man and a great hunter. When a town is founded and Mantaka runs afoul of the criminals who are trying to take over, he is framed for a murder and has to take to the high country again. And all the time, the Utes are still after him. On the run from all his enemies, he becomes known as The Savage, because he still can't speak English and communicate with people.

It seems to me that Lederer is trying to write a Western version of Tarzan, at least in some respects. I'm not sure he manages to pull that off, but UTE REVENGE is still an entertaining, fast-moving story. Lederer writes in a very readable style, with plenty of action and some nice descriptive passages. I think he intended this to be a more serious novel than his series work (which makes me wonder if the generic UTE REVENGE was an editor's retitling of the book). For the most part, he succeeds.

Lederer stopped writing for a while after the late Eighties/early Nineties, but he's returned to the Western field in recent years, publishing a number of Black Horse Westerns under his old pseudonyms Logan Winters and Owen G. Irons. It's a welcome return as far as I'm concerned. 


benbridges said...

I wish he was a little easier to contact, but as I understand it, he's a man who takes his privacy very, VERY seriously, and because of it remains something of a mystery man.

paul Lederer said...

I don't even have a copy of Ute Revenge. Wish I did, I'd have it out as an ebook tomorrow. I always kind of liked it. You're right, it was retitled from "Mantaka" by the editors.
You know I like occasional contacts, but everyone seems to want me in some project or other, when I'm happiest just writing. PJL

benbridges said...

Well, I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance at last, Paul. I've been a fan ever since the days of SPECTROS, which I still consider to be a fabulously original and highly underrated series.

paul lederer said...

To benbridges--Spectros was okay; it's coming out in ebooks soon. Some people had a problem with #3--I did too, I never got paid for it.
You ever see the progenitor of the series--Showdown at Guayamas. Manor Books. Without Spectros in the title, not many have. Scrounged up a single copy and now have it coming out soon electronically as well
Okay (sigh)--