Jeremy Six is the marshal of Spanish Flat, Arizona, a small
town that serves as the supply center for not only numerous ranches but also
some mining operations in the nearby mountains. Six is assisted by his deputy
Manny Gutierrez and has numerous friends among the town’s citizens. He’s
romantically attracted to the beautiful owner of one of the local saloons. MR.
SIXGUN is the first novel in a series by Brian Garfield featuring Jeremy Six,
and at first glance, it seems to be solidly in the GUNSMOKE mold.
There are some important differences, though, that become apparent as the story
goes along. Jeremy Six is no Matt Dillon. He broods more and is uncertain of
his own abilities. His budding romance with Clarissa is no Matt and Kitty.
Characters you start out thinking are certain to survive, don’t. Some things do
seem influenced by GUNSMOKE, though, such as the tension that grips the town
when famous gunman Ben Sarasen shows up and waits around for something, nobody knows what. Then there’s
the outlaw gang with a grudge against the town resulting from Six’s arrest of
one of their members. All of it comes together in a number of scenes of
shocking violence after Garfield skillfully ratchets up the tension.
I’ve heard many good things about the Marshal Jeremy Six series and have been
meaning to read it for years. The recent passing of Brian Garfield finally
prompted me to do so. MR. SIXGUN is a very well written novel. I wasn’t sure at
first if I liked the character of Jeremy Six, but he’d grown on me by the time
I finished the book. I enjoyed this quite a bit and certainly will read at
least the next book in the series, probably more. Recommended.
(MR. SIXGUN was published originally by Ace Books in 1964 under Garfield’s
pseudonym Brian Wynne. It’s available now in an e-book edition from Piccadilly
Press, and that’s the one I read.)