Forgotten Books: Longarm and the Coldest Town in Hell - Tabor Evans (Peter Brandvold)
I was looking for a Western set around Christmas time when I came across this entry in the long-running series featuring Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long. LONGARM AND THE COLDEST TOWN IN HELL finds ol' Custis knocked out and thrown off a train traveling across the snowy landscape of Dakota Territory on Christmas Eve. He narrowly survives without freezing to death because he's rescued by a Russian homesteader and the man's beautiful daughter. He was heading for a small town to investigate the murders of several lawmen, and when he finally reaches his destination after that almost-deadly delay, he finds that a gang of outlaws has treed the town. And of course, to make things even more difficult, there's a blizzard going on . . . A number of different authors wrote as "Tabor Evans", the house-name under which all the Longarm novels were published. (Heck, I wrote nearly 50 of 'em myself.) The author of this book is none other than the Scourge of the North Country, Mean Pete Brandvold his own self. You know what to expect when you read a Brandvold novel: interesting characters, a vividly described setting, and lots and lots of great action. LONGARM AND THE COLDEST TOWN IN HELL delivers all of that and more. I don't think anybody is better than Brandvold at depicting extreme winter weather and making it a vital part of a book. The fact that it's Christmas doesn't play a large part in the plot, but it's definitely there. The biggest thing this book has going for it is Longarm himself. He's a great character, tough and smart and funny and able to carry a series for several decades and more than 400 books. I always enjoyed writing about him, and before that, I enjoyed reading about him. (I was a fan of the series from its beginning in the late Seventies.) I had a great time reading this one, too.