I hadn't intended to read the other side of that Ace Double Western from last week quite so soon, but that's the way things worked out. And that's fine because LAST CHANCE AT DEVIL'S CANYON is a pretty entertaining novel.
The title is sort of a pun, because the protagonist is former boxer turned gunfighter Dave Chance, who was known as "Last" Chance during his pugilist days. But he was double-crossed by his manager, who ran off with all of Dave's money. Dave gave up boxing and devoted himself to tracking down the crooked manager. The trail leads him to the mining boomtown called Paydirt, but on the way there Dave gets mixed up in a shooting that leaves a man dead at the hands of bushwhackers.
When Dave takes the body into town, he soons finds himself in a convoluted plot that involves two lawmen (the county sheriff and the town marshal), neither of whom can be trusted, a troublemaking gambler, and missing mine payrolls. The crooked fight manager Dave's been after is on hand, too, using the money he stole to buy a railroad spur that's in danger of going bankrupt. He offers Dave a half-share in the railroad to find out who stole the mine payrolls from the train. And there's the sheriff's beautiful daughter to complicate things, too.
There's not much in LAST CHANCE AT DEVIL'S CANYON you haven't seen before if you've read very many traditional Westerns, but Germano's work is always worth reading because of his hardboiled prose, his tough heroes, and the occasional nice plot twist, of which there are a few in this novel. There are plenty of shootouts and ambushes, and given Dave's background as a fighter you know there's going to be a boxing match somewhere along the way. Germano doesn't disappoint in that regard, either.
This isn't as good a book as the Gordon D. Shirreffs novel on the other side of this Ace Double, but I had a fine time reading it anyway. Actually, I've never read a Barry Cord novel that wasn't good. He's a dependable author if you like tough, lean, hardboiled Westerns.