Friday, June 21, 2019
Forgotten Books: Blood Trail - Gardner F. Fox
As you can see from the back cover copy above, BLOOD TRAIL by Gardner F. Fox (originally published in paperback by Belmont in 1979) is a revenge Western, a very common plot in the genre. Fox doesn't really bring anything new to the table in the story he tells in this book (on the trail of the three men who bushwhacked him and left him for dead, the protagonist finds himself in the middle of a range war), but it's the execution that really matters in a book like this, not the plot. And in that respect, Fox does a superb job.
Not only is Abel Kinniston, the gunman/protagonist, a fully fleshed-out character, Fox give us really good portraits of his supporting characters, too, especially the villains. The description of the New Mexico Territory setting is excellent, and the action scenes and pacing are top-notch, as you'd expect from an old pulpster and comic book scripter like Fox. If you're a fan of traditional Westerns, this is a very good one and well worth reading.
I read the e-book edition that's currently available, but I also have an old, beat-to-hell paperback edition that served as the source for the scans at the top of this post. I couldn't find any other cover images of BLOOD TRAIL on-line, so I decided to post this one even though the book is in bad shape. I did take off the rubber band that's holding the pages together when I scanned it, though.