(This post originally appeared on September 7, 2006, in somewhat different form.)
This is one of Ed Gorman’s earlier Westerns, originally published by Walker in 1992 under the pseudonym Christopher Keegan, then reprinted in paperback by Leisure in 1999 under Gorman’s name.
But even if I had read the original edition without knowing who the author really was, I think I would have suspected that Ed wrote it. It has all the hallmarks of a Gorman Western: lean prose; characters who are wounded physically, spiritually, or both; a small town that harbors deadly secrets; and an air of grim melancholy that’s relieved somewhat by glimmerings of hope.
Gunfighter Stephen Payne – who never really wanted his reputation as a gunman – arrives in the small town of Favor, where his younger brother committed suicide after robbing a stagecoach. But Payne doesn’t believe that his brother really did either of those things. He thinks that his brother was murdered, and he sets out to discover the truth. It doesn’t take long for his investigation to put him in deadly danger, so he knows his suspicions must be correct. This is a fine book all around, with a particularly satisfying ending.