Friday, November 01, 2013

Forgotten Books: The Savage Hours - L.P. Holmes

When I read RUSTLER'S MOON by L.P. Holmes last month, I enjoyed it enough that I knew I'd be reading more by him soon. And so I have. THE SAVAGE HOURS is a short novel published by Ace Books in 1966, and it's another fine piece of Western entertainment.

The protagonist of this one is undercover lawman Jim Bannion, who's sent in to a rich ranching area in Oregon find out if the local badge-toter has turned crooked. Immediately, Bannion finds himself in the middle of a land grab and swindle cooked up by the local judge (not a spoiler, Holmes doesn't have any real mystery in these stories). Several murders, bushwhackings, and brutal fistfights later, Bannion and an unexpected ally close in on the bad guys and set everything to rights in fine hardboiled style.

There's a decent plot twist in this one (that unexpected ally mentioned above), but for the most part veteran Western readers will know what's going to happen. Holmes writes so well, though, that it doesn't really matter. A book like this is pure comfort food to somebody like me who grew up on them and would have made a fine early Fifties movie directed by Andre de Toth and starring Randolph Scott as Bannion. Or if you want a little lower budget, substitute Joseph Kane for de Toth and Rod Cameron for Scott. I have several more L.P. Holmes novels on hand and plan to get to them soon.

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