Friday, November 07, 2014

Forgotten Books: Trail Boss From Texas - Barry Cord (Peter Germano)

(This post originally appeared in different form on April 25, 2005)

Originally published by Phoenix Press in 1948, this is Peter Germano’s first novel under the pseudonym Barry Cord, and as far as I know, his first full-length novel overall, although his shorter fiction had been appearing in the Western pulps as far back as the mid-Thirties.

Larry Brennan is the title character, who has brought a herd of cattle from Texas to Colorado to deliver them to an old friend of his boss. Unfortunately, the rancher Jeff Halliday, who was supposed to take delivery of the cattle, is murdered just before Brennan arrives, and after wiring his boss to ask him what to do next, Brennan has no choice but to wait for an answer. This delay gives him plenty of time to get mixed up in a range war that he originally wants no part of, as well as a land grab motivated by the impending arrival of the railroad.

These are classic Western story elements, of course, and Germano doesn’t really do anything new with them. This is a good solid traditional Western, though. Germano has been quoted (in TWENTIETH CENTURY WESTERN WRITERS) as saying that his writing was influenced by the work of Ernest Haycox and Luke Short (Frederick D. Glidden). That can be seen in his terse, unsentimental prose style and his hardboiled action scenes. His books often have strong mystery elements in them, as well. TRAIL BOSS FROM TEXAS suffers a little at first as Germano crowds in too many characters and plot angles in too few pages, but eventually everything gets straightened out and the story flows better. In the Fifties, when he was one of the regular writers of the Jim Hatfield novels in TEXAS RANGERS under the Jackson Cole house-name, and during the Sixties, when he was a prolific novelist for the Ace Double line, among other publishers, his storytelling abilities were more developed and he became one of the best Western writers of the period.

1 comment:

Steve M said...

I have three versions of this book, a Belmont Tower paperback with the title Trail Boss from Texas, a Hale Black Horse Western with a title change to Boss of the Tumbling H, and a Gunsmoke hardback titled Gun Boss of Triangle - strangely for this one the main character has had a name change to Jim Carmody.