Friday, May 04, 2018

Forgotten Books: Hell in Paradise Valley - Barry Cord (Peter Germano)

As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, Peter Germano, who wrote mostly under the pseudonym Barry Cord, was one of the most dependable authors of traditional Westerns. An Ace Double paperback original from 1972, HELL IN PARADISE VALLEY is on the other side of Ray Hogan’s THE NIGHT HELL’S CORNERS DIED, which I wrote about a while back. I’ve read the Germano novel now and found it equally enjoyable.

HELL IN PARADISE VALLEY is a cattlemen vs. sheepherders book, but with a nice twist in that it’s a group of Texas cowboys, led by rugged trail boss Jess Riley, that gets tricked into agreeing to deliver a herd of sheep to Paradise Valley. A plot like this could easily be played for comedy, but in Germano’s hands it’s a tough, hardboiled action yarn. He throws in some other twists, too, such as not all the characters turning out like they appear to be at first, as well as danger from the past for some of them. He doesn’t try to cram too much into the book’s relatively short length, though. The way this book is plotted and structured, right down to the final shoot-outs, reminds me very much of a late Fifties, early Sixties TV Western. It could have been adapted into an episode of RAWHIDE with no trouble at all, although a few things would have had to be changed.

HELL IN PARADISE VALLEY doesn’t break any new ground, but it does a very good job of telling a mostly familiar story. If you’re a fan of traditional Westerns, it’s well worth reading.

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