Friday, June 05, 2020

Forgotten Books: Bannerman The Enforcer - Kirk Hamilton (Keith Hetherington)

Under various pseudonyms, Keith Hetherington was one of the most prolific authors of Westerns published in Australia by Cleveland Publications. One of his most common pen-names was Kirk Hamilton, and under that name he wrote a 48-book series called Bannerman the Enforcer, all of which have been reprinted in e-book editions by Piccadilly Publishing. I’ve read several stand-alone Westerns by Hetherington that I enjoyed quite a bit, so I recently read the first of the Bannerman books, titled simply THE ENFORCER.

As the book opens, Yancey Bannerman is a cowboy and trail boss who has just taken a herd to Mexico and is on his way back to Texas. He runs into some trouble along the way from bandidos who want to steal the money he got for the herd, but with some help from a gunsmith and sharpshooter named Johnny Cato, he makes it back to Texas. Cato, having wrapped up a dangerous errand of his own that took him below the border, tags along.

We quickly learn that Yancey is the younger, black sheep son of wealthy businessman Curtis Bannerman. Yancey’s older brother Charles is actually the black sheep of the family, though, having run up gambling debts and gotten in trouble with local criminals in San Francisco. In an effort to escape from this dilemma, Charles persuades his father to send him to Texas on business, and if you think the Bannerman brothers are going to run into each other and Yancey is going to be drawn into Chuck’s troubles (which wind up involving a conspiracy that stretches all the way from San Francisco to Austin), you’d be absolutely right.

Yancy also meets the governor of Texas, Lester Dukes, who is a reformer out to bring law and order to the Lone Star State. With continued assistance from Johnny Cato, Yancey helps both his brother and the governor and wraps up the various plotlines in a very satisfactory fashion, although not without quite a few fistfights and gunfights along the way, of course.

Yancey and Cato are quite likable protagonists, and Hetherington’s smooth prose and skillful pacing making THE ENFORCER a real pleasure to read. By the end of the novel (and this isn’t really a spoiler, since it’s the whole concept of the series) our two heroes have gone to work for Governor Dukes as special troubleshooters, authorized to go anywhere in Texas to root out corruption and corral owlhoots. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to reading all 48 books in the series, but I definitely plan to read more. I had a fine time reading this book, and if you enjoy traditional Westerns, there’s a good chance you will, too.


Spike said...

Exactly not what I needed, another Western series to check out. Up to mid teens of Edison’s floating outfit and have read Edge series (bit too violent) for years. Never got hooked on Big Jim or Larry and Stretch but gave both about 3 or 4. This sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Western serials I suggest "angel" by Frederick H. Christian and "McAllister" by Matt Chisholm
Tiziano Agnelli

PS And "Sundance" by John Benteen

Best from Italy,
Tiziano Agnelli

James Reasoner said...

Anything by John Benteen (Ben Haas) is good. I read a few of the McAllister books many, many years ago when some of them were reprinted in the U.S. and have meant to try them again. Angel is one of the series I've never gotten around to, but maybe I'll give them a try.

Sliver said...

Hi James - Thanks a gain for another review of one of Dad's books.

Prolific as he was he never made much money - Cleveland were not great payers - but loved his craft and loved it when he heard that someone had enjyed his work.

Sadly as he approacheds his 91st birthday he is hospital with stage 4 Alzhiemers and only a sahow of the robust knock about block that he once was (and will be forever nmore in my mind's eye)

Cruelly he has moments of lucidity when he is aware of what he has lost and his current stae but luckily I was able to catch him during one of these rare episodes and read him your reviews of his work with Bannerman and as brett waring. he was chuffed and it certainly brought a smile to his face.

Thank you for drawing attention to his work and for making his day.
Be well.
Best regards,
Geoff Hetherington

James Reasoner said...

Thanks, Geoff. You've made my day. I'm very glad your dad enjoyed my comments.