Friday, January 11, 2019

Forgotten Books: Mr. Sixgun - Brian Garfield

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.)


Anonymous said...

James, the next book in the series is The Night it Rained Bullets, which is excellent.

Much of the action takes place in the same town, but it's locked down by an intense, overwhelming blizzard which makes leaving one building and getting to the next akin to passing out of an airlock and fighting your way through a howling void to get to another island of safety. Except that next island might be full of desperadoes who want nothing more than to blow your head off. Garfield works this situation for all the danger and suspense it's worth.

John Hocking

James Reasoner said...

I just bought the e-book of THE NIGHT IT RAINED BULLETS. I think I have the original paperback but not sure where it is.

George said...

I've had a stack of Brian Garfield books waiting to be read so your fine reviewer is a good motivator to get started. I have read several Brian Garfield crime novels and westerns and enjoyed them all. Brian Barfield's work delivered solid storytelling and compelling characters.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

HOPSCOTCH was one of the rare books made into a different - but equally good - movie.

Mathew Paust said...

Haven't read anything by Garfield in ages. Time I made up for that! Hopscotch was the first, which I read before seeing the movie. Both were topnotch, considering, of course, that Matthau was one of my alltime favorite actors.