Monday, November 21, 2011

Hard Trail to Socorro - Wayne D. Dundee

In a fairly short period of time, Wayne Dundee has become one of my favorite Western writers. That opinion is only strengthened by his new novel, HARD TRAIL TO SOCORRO, the first in a series featuring bounty hunter Bodie Kendrick. Here's the publisher's description of the book:

Bounty hunter Bodie Kendrick apprehended his prey without too much trouble. Claiming the reward, however, turns out to be not so easy.

First there is Veronica Fairburn, the beautiful woman who has her own business in Socorro and insists on sticking with Kendrick when he sets out to return there with his prisoner … Then there's the gang of tough ranch hands dead set on relieving him of the prisoner in order to dish out their own brand of personal revenge … Add in the Mexican desperado stalking the woman, and the band of renegade Apaches raiding throughout the region—and Kendrick has his work cut out for him.

Complicating matters even more are the feelings developing between Kendrick and Veronica.

But the greatest challenge of all may come from the daring passage they must attempt over the Jornada del Muerto—the Journey of the Dead, awaiting them in the merciless White Sands desert.

That's a good solid plot, and Dundee makes it even better by throwing in a few twists along the way. Not everything is the way it seems to be at first glance, and that's always a good thing in a book as far as I'm concerned.

Where Dundee really succeeds, though, is in his gritty action scenes, his feel for the landscape, his characters, and his ability to focus on the things that make the classic Western such an appealing genre: honor, courage, determination, and redemption, even at a high price. Dundee's Westerns remind me very much of those by Gordon D. Shirreffs, another favorite of mine.

Maybe it's just because of his name, but all the way through HARD TRAIL TO SOCORRO I kept seeing Bodie Kendrick as Clint Walker. Those of you who grew up in the Fifties and Sixties like I did will understand that reference. This novel would have made a great hardboiled Western movie from that era, although it has some more contemporary touches to it as well. Mostly it's just very entertaining, and I had a great time reading it. If you're a Western fan, you really should read it. And if you know Wayne Dundee's work only from his excellent private eye stories and novels featuring Joe Hannibal, I highly recommend that you try his Westerns as well.


wayne d. dundee said...

Thank you, thank you for them mighty kind words, James. They mean a great deal coming from you. And to be compared to Gordon D. Shireffs --- who is one of my all-time favorites --- well, that's frosting on the cake and a real honor. Much obliged, thanks again.

Peter Brandvold said...

I'm halfway through this one, James, and I couldn't agree more. Wayne's books are terrific. You can really see the dust and smell the leather. I was thinking Clint Walker for Kendrick, as well!

David Cranmer said...

I agree, James. Wayne has written one stellar western after another.

Matthew P. Mayo said...

I am headed to Amazon right now. This sounds like my kind of read.

Cap'n Bob said...

All of Wayne's westerns have been excellen so far. I'll be ordering this as soon as I finish this comment.