Monday, December 01, 2014

Forbidden River: Wolves of the Wild - Frederick Nebel

I've read plenty of Frederick Nebel's hardboiled detective yarns in my time, beginning nearly 50 years ago with "Winter Kill", a Kennedy and MacBride story in THE HARDBOILED DICKS, the iconic anthology edited by Ron Goulart. I'd never read much of his pure adventure fiction, though, until recently. Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books is publishing several volumes of Nebel's adventure stories, and the first one I've read is FORBIDDEN RIVER.

The collection begins with an excellent introduction by Roberts that provides more information about Nebel's life and career than I've encountered before and concludes with a biographical sketch of Nebel's life by Evan Lewis and a comprehensive bibliography of his fiction compiled by both men. In between are five top-notch novellas that appeared in ACE-HIGH NOVELS, FIVE-NOVELS MONTHLY, and NORTH-WEST STORIES.

The first is "Wolves of the Wild", from the April 1932 issue of ACE-HIGH NOVELS, an action-packed Northern that finds old sourdough Shorty McWhirtle showing up in the mining town of Mushroom City with some gold dust from a legendary lost lode. An all-or-nothing bet with gambler Jim Cameron forms an unlikely alliance between the two men, but Shorty has an ulterior motive: Jim's father was an old friend of his, and he wants to get the young man away from the decadent life in Mushroom City.

This situation leads to a fast-paced blend of murder, mistaken identities, double-crosses, and shootouts in the snow. Nebel never lets the action slow down for very long, but he also keeps a firm hand on the plot and everything ties up neatly.

Every story in this collection is substantial enough to deserve a post of its own, so I'll stop there and just say that FORBIDDEN RIVER is a fine collection of adventure fiction and well worth reading. You can order it directly from the Black Dog Books website.


Rick Robinson said...

I'm on my way over to the BDB site to get me a copy...

James Reasoner said...

You'll enjoy it.