(This post originally appeared on July 29, 2008, in somewhat different form.)
This massive anthology claims to be a tribute to the pulp magazine LARIAT STORIES, but only five of the twenty-two stories it contains actually appeared there. The others all come from various pulps and slick magazines, although some of those authors also appeared in LARIAT STORIES from time to time. Regardless of where the stories first appeared, though, most of them are pretty good, making this a worthwhile collection. To me, any book that includes stories by Walt Coburn, Max Brand, T.T. Flynn, Les Savage Jr., and Lewis B. Patten is likely going to be worth reading, and all their entries in this volume are top-notch, with Savage’s novella “The Beast in Cañada Diablo” (which was also reprinted in a Leisure paperback of the same name) being particularly outstanding.
I also liked the stories by Eugene Cunningham, Luke Short, Barry Cord, Frank Bonham, Steve Frazee, Peter Dawson, and D.B. Newton. Newton’s “Reach High, Tophand!” is also one of the best stories in the book, with an unlikely but very likable hero. There were a few stories I didn't care for, but that’s to be expected in a book of this size. Jon Tuska provides the introduction and notes for the individual stories, but if you’ve ever read any of the various Leisure/Five Star/Thorndike collections of these authors, you’ve seen all of that material before. I enjoyed SHADOW OF THE LARIAT a lot. It’s an almost perfect collection of stories to read between novels, which is the way I like to read an anthology.