Friday, September 30, 2022

Gun-Witch From Wyoming - Les Savage Jr.

Texan Bob Hogarth arrives in Wyoming with a herd of cattle in the spring of 1887, following the Big Die-Up, the devastating winter that wiped out the herds of most cattlemen in the Great Plains. Hogarth intends to make a fresh start in Wyoming, along with his sidekick Waco Williams, and his herd gives him the leverage he needs to force his way into the local cattleman’s co-op, one of the members of which is a beautiful, redheaded young woman.

There’s a lot of hostility and intrigue among this organization, however, and Hogarth’s ruthless cunning soon makes him some deadly enemies. A mysterious rustler is also preying on the ranches in the area, adding a new threat that Hogarth has to deal with, all while trying to outsmart the other ranchers, court the beautiful redhead, and survive numerous ambushes, fistfights, and shootouts.

GUN-WITCH FROM WYOMING is a short novel by Les Savage Jr. that appeared originally in the November 1947 issue of LARIAT STORY MAGAZINE. There’s an ebook version available from Wildside Press, and that’s the one I read. Although Les Savage Jr. sold to a variety of Western pulps, including WESTERN STORY, DIME WESTERN, and STAR WESTERN, during a career that lasted only a dozen years before diabetes claimed his life at the early age of 35, he was really a star at Fiction House. His stories appeared regularly, usually featured on the covers, in LARIAT STORY MAGAZINE, ACTION STORIES, FRONTIER STORIES, and NORTH-WEST ROMANCES. He was just about the perfect Fiction House author, since his stories featured plenty of fast-moving, hardboiled action and usually more than one sexy female character. There are two beautiful women in GUN-WITCH FROM WYOMING, and I won’t give away which one winds up being the title character.

Savage packs a lot of plot into this one, which I estimate runs about 25,000 words. Almost too much plot, as there are numerous characters, all with their own shadowy motivations. Also, for much of the story, Bob Hogarth isn’t a very likable protagonist. Despite all that, Savage makes it work and had me flipping the digital pages to find out what was going to happen. I wound up enjoying this book quite a bit. If you’re a traditional Western fan, it’s well worth reading, and if you haven’t read Les Savage Jr. before, it’s pretty representative of his work. Give it a try, and if you like it, there are plenty more of his books still in print.

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Wild Adventures of Cthulhu - Will Murray

I’m sure I encountered mentions of H.P. Lovecraft in reading about Robert E. Howard in the introductions to the Lancer editions of the Conan stories during the Sixties. But I don’t think I ever read any fiction related to what we now call the Cthulhu Mythos until some of Lovecraft’s creations popped up in issues of Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE during the Seventies. I didn’t read any of Lovecraft’s original stories until much later.

While I’m only a lukewarm Lovecraft fan, I do find the Mythos pretty interesting, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by Will Murray, so I was happy to discover that Murray has published THE WILD ADVENTURES OF CTHULHU, a collection of ten Lovecraftian stories he wrote for various anthologies. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to recreate Lovecraft’s style in these stories, although after reading his novels written in the styles of Lester Dent, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Norvell Page, I don’t doubt for a second that he could have written Lovecraft-like prose if he’d wanted to.

No, these are more straight-ahead tales, some with a good deal of action, and most of them involve agents of the Cryptic Events Evaluation Section, which is part of the National Reconnaissance Office (both fictional creations by Murray). As a result, what we get isn’t exactly U.N.C.L.E. vs. Cthulhu, but there’s a hint of that, as Murray acknowledges in his introduction.

The stories have an epic scope, ranging from the Arctic to the Antarctic to the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and they usually end badly for humanity. Despite that, some of them manage to achieve a considerable amount of dry humor, as well as being appropriately creepy and downright terrifying at times.

The overall outlook in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF CTHULHU may be pretty bleak, but I enjoyed it. The stories are well-written and move right along, and Murray obviously knows his stuff when it comes to Lovecraft’s work. If you’re a Lovecraft fan or a Will Murray fan, or both, I give it a high recommendation. It's available in both e-book and paperback editions.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Undercover Detective, April 1939

There's a lot happening on this cover. This is the sort of scene that Norman Saunders often painted on his pulp covers, and although the unknown artist of this one doesn't have Saunders' talent (in my opinion), I like it anyway because of its sheer enthusiasm. This is the third and final issue of the short-lived UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE. There are only a few authors on the table of contents whose name I recognize: Joseph Chadwick, Louis Trimble, and Wilbur S. Peacock. The rest are a mixture of house-names and authors who published a few stories and are little remembered. The star of UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE was Conway Clark, who was featured in all three of the lead novels. I don't know anything about the character. This story was published under the house-name John Cotton; the previous two were published as by "Richard Ariel". The first one is a rewritten version of a story by Oscar Schisgall published originally in CLUES. Whether Schisgall rewrote it for UNDERCOVER DETECTIVE and then wrote the other two Conway Clark stories, I have no idea.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: West, October 1946

A nice action-packed cover by Sam Cherry graces this issue of WEST, and there's a good line-up of authors inside, too: Dean Owen with a long novella, Johnston McCulley with a Zorro yarn, and stories by Allan K. Echols, Harold F. Cruickshank, and house-name Tom Parsons. This is another good example of how Western pulp art directors loved the colors red and yellow. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Marauders' Moon - Luke Short (Frederick D. Glidden)

A number of years ago I went on a Luke Short binge and decided to collect and read all his novels. I collected all of them without much trouble. This was the Eighties, when used bookstores were still fairly common. But I only read about half of them before that effort ran out of steam. I still consider Luke Short an excellent Western author, however, and still read one of his books from time to time. A lot of his novels are available as e-books, and that’s how I recently read MARAUDERS’ MOON. (The cover above is the Dell edition I owned but never got around to reading.)

This novel centers around a long-standing feud between two powerful cattlemen who dominate neighboring counties. The protagonist, Webb Cousins, is a drifting cowpoke who’s accused of being the inside man in a train holdup, a charge that’s false. But Webb finds himself arrested anyway and brought in by a deputy to one of the feuding towns. They arrive just as five gunmen are robbing the bank. After a shootout, Webbs gets accused of being involved in that crime, as well, even though his presence on the scene is a pure accident.

From there, revelations begin to unfold as Webb escapes, is taken prisoner, escapes again, and becomes a pawn in the war between the two cattlemen. His curiosity leads him to realize there are mysteries to explore and more going on here than is readily apparent. There’s also the beautiful daughter of one of the ranchers to catch his interest and draw him deeper into the feud, until he comes up with a way to blow everything open and put an end to the hostilities.

Short, whose real name was Frederick D. Glidden, was heavily influenced by Ernest Haycox and brings quite a bit of Haycox-like depth and complexity to his plotting and characterization, while at the same time handling the action scenes better than Haycox usually did. MARAUDERS’ MOON is a solid Western with a lot to like about it, most notably its fine protagonist Webb Cousins.

However, the plot is pretty slow to develop and the first half of the novel often feels like it’s spinning its wheels. The second half takes off and moves along much better. Also, late in the novel Glidden appears to be setting up a plot twist that would have worked quite nicely and resolved some things, but nothing ever comes of it. I don’t know if he forgot or just never intended to do what it looked like he was doing, but either way I found that kind of frustrating. Because of those things, I wouldn’t put MARAUDERS’ MOON in the top rank of Luke Short novels, but it’s solidly in the upper reaches of the second rank and well worth reading if you’re a fan of traditional Westerns.

This novel appeared originally as a seven-part serial in WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE in March and April of 1937, under the title “Silver Horn Breaks”. MARAUDERS’ MOON is a much better title and actually fits the story. Nice cover by Norman Saunders on the issue where the first installment appears, though.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Private Detective Stories, June 1937

This is the first issue of PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES, from the same folks who brought us SPICY DETECTIVE, SPICY WESTERN, etc. It’s available in an e-book edition from Radio Archives, and I’ve been reading it recently, a story or two at a time between editing projects.

The headliner in this pulp, not surprisingly, is Robert Leslie Bellem’s legendary private eye character Dan Turner. The Turner yarn in this debut issue is a novelette called “Murder on the Sound Stage”, one of the longer Turner yarns I’ve read. Unfortunately, that uninspired title goes with the old plot about an actor being murdered on set when somebody fires a gun with a live round in it at the same time as a gun with a blank in it goes off. The victim had known that his life was in danger and had summoned Dan to the studio to protect him, but it was too late. The guy gets croaked right in front of Dan’s eyes . . . but not until Dan has encountered a beautiful blonde with murderous intentions of her own.

From there the action takes off hellity-blip and involves a beautiful brunette Russian babe (the dead gink’s wife) and a redhead who works as an extra in the galloping snapshots. All the ruckus takes place in the space of one night, and it’s a crowded night because Bellem crams in a lot. There are two more murders—or was it three?—and Turner gets bashed on the conk at least once before everything gets wrapped up in a fairly improbable manner.

As usual, there’s a considerable amount of enjoyment to be found in Bellem’s fast-paced prose. The guy could sling words, no doubt about that. And his plots were often complex and well-constructed. That’s not really the case here, and that’s what keeps this yarn from belonging in the top rank of Dan Turner stories. Worth reading, but a lot of them are better.

Next up is a true crime feature by C.A.M. Donne (Donald Cameron), “Vengeance of the Severed Hands”, about a husband who murders his wife and dismembers her to get rid of the body. I have no idea if it’s actually true or if Cameron, who wrote quite a bit for the Spicies, just made it all up. But it's written well enough that I didn’t skip it, which I often do with non-fiction features in pulp magazines.

“Pair of Tramps” is bylined Mort Lansing, but that’s a pseudonym for the very prolific Edwin Truett Long, who was one of Trojan Publishing’s stalwarts, writing under numerous pseudonyms and house-names. The protagonist in this one is a down-on-his-luck former private detective named Bane, who had to go on the run when he was framed for a crime by a local gambler. He’s come back to the city from which he fled to try to borrow some money from his former girlfriend, who happens to be the mistress of the gambler who framed him. That doesn’t work out, but Bane then meets a beautiful redhead, a former showgirl who happens to be up to her pretty neck in a murder case involving her husband, her rich father-in-law, and a knife in the neck.

I generally enjoy Long’s work, but “Pair of Tramps” is an excellent story, probably the best thing by him that I’ve read so far. The action never lets up, the plot is satisfyingly twisty, and the prose is top-notch, the sort of terse poetry that reminded me a great deal of Paul Cain’s work. Not as good as Cain, mind you, but almost as good as Cain is pretty darned good.

I’ve probably read some stories by Howard Wandrei writing as Robert A. Garron in various Spicy pulps, but as with Long’s story, Wandrei’s “Wrong Number” in this issue really impressed me. The tough, likable protagonist of this one, private detective Noel Athens, is hired to find the daughter of a newspaper tycoon. The girl has run off with a gangster. Yes, it’s a wandering daughter job, and the plot is pretty straightforward, but the writing is excellent, enough so that I’m going to keep my eyes open for more stories by Wandrei. (I have a couple of collections of his science fiction and fantasy stories under his own name and will get around to those eventually, I hope.)

“Nailed With Silver”, a novelette by E. Hoffmann Price, introduces Jeff Dargan, a private eye who went on to star in several more yarns published in PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES. In this one, he’s in Saint Augustine, Florida, enjoying a break after wrapping up a jewel robbery case, when he suddenly finds himself up to his neck in more trouble involving a beautiful brunette who wants Dargan to help her get some evidence for her divorce case against her husband, a sugar tycoon who owns a company based in Cuba. Well, there’s a murder, of course, along with another beautiful woman, some crooked politicians, and shoot-outs and fistfights galore. Price was another stalwart of the Spicy pulps, along with his prodigious output elsewhere, and I’ve never read a story of his that wasn’t at least enjoyable. I wasn’t sure about “Nailed With Silver” at first. The plot seemed pretty muddled. But then darned if Price didn’t pull everything together so that it made sense. I would up liking this one quite a bit.

Allan K. Echols is best remembered for his Westerns, I think, but he wrote quite a few detective yarns, too. His story “Sweet and Hot” wraps up this issue. It concerns a fixed horse race that turns out not to be fixed, a $20,000 bet, and a private detective framed for murder. While it’s not a particularly memorable story, it’s well-written and moves right along.

So, all of this plus a brutally effective cover by H.J. Ward makes this a pretty good first issue of PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES, setting it up for a nice long run. The stories by Long, Wandrei, and Price are really good, and the Bellem yarn is entertaining if not top of the line. I had a great time reading the ebook version of this memorable pulp debut.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: .44 Western Magazine, October 1940

Well, there's a cover that's coming right at you. I don't know the artist. I thought that little squiggle by the left stirrup might be a signature, but if it is, I can't make it out. Whoever painted it did a good job. .44 WESTERN MAGAZINE, like all the Popular Publications Western pulps, had good covers, good authors, and great story titles. Authors in this issue include Ed Earl Repp, Lee Floren, John G. Pearsol, Jay Karth, Le Roy Boyd, Jack Sterrett, and Eugene R. Dutcher. Maybe not an all-star lineup but probably worth reading.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Steve Holland: Cowboy - Michael Stradford

Considering all the Western paperbacks I read growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, how in the world is it that I never noticed the same guy is on nearly all of them?

And that hombre, of course, was none other than Steve Holland, the best and busiest paperback cover model in history. The new book from Michael Stradford, STEVE HOLLAND: COWBOY, covers that part of Holland’s career with an informative introduction and scores of beautifully reproduced paperback covers (with a few comic book covers included for good measure). The book also features many of the original paintings without the cover copy, and it’s fascinating to see how they were put to such good use to sell paperbacks to guys like me.

Even more fascinating to me are the reference photos of Holland taken by the various artists who painted those covers. Seeing how those images started out alongside what they became is great fun. So is going through this volume and thinking, “I’ve read that book . . . I’ve read that book . . . I’ve read that book.” Which brings me back to my original point: how come I never noticed Steve Holland was on all those covers?

Well, I attribute that to the skill of the artists involved, as well as to Holland himself for being able to strike so many different attitudes in his poses. He was the best at what he did, no doubt about that.

Michael Stradford is the world’s leading expert on Steve Holland. This volume is the third book he’s devoted to Holland’s career, following STEVE HOLLAND:THE TORN SHIRT SESSIONS (about Holland posing as Doc Savage for the long-running series of Bantam paperbacks) and STEVE HOLLAND: THE WORLD’SGREATEST ILLUSTRATION ART MODEL. For readers like me who grew up with shelves full of paperbacks with Steve Holland covers, all three volumes are packed with fun and nostalgia, and I give them my highest recommendation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Double Trouble Kickstarter

The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers is doing a Kickstarter for an anthology called DOUBLE TROUBLE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF TWO-FISTED TEAM-UPS, edited by Jonathan Maberry and Keith R.A. DeCandido. The theme of this anthology is team-ups between various public domain fictional characters (with a few historical characters thrown into the mix), and naturally, when I was invited to participate I came up with a story using pulp characters, one fairly well-known and another pretty obscure. Some of the novels featuring G-Man Dan Fowler have been reprinted, and a number of New Pulp stories about him have been written and published by various authors. I've always really liked the character and am looking forward to writing about him. For one thing, it'll give me an excuse to read more of the original stories from the pulp G-MEN to get in the proper frame of mind.

In my yarn, Fowler will be teaming up with two-fisted sea captain Stinger Seave, who appeared in several stories in ACTION STORIES and has never been seen since. You may remember that I reviewed the series here on the blog a while back. When I was reading them, I wasn't thinking about using the character, but then when this opportunity came up, he seemed like the perfect fit for the plot I concocted.

I think this will be an excellent anthology, and I'm honored to be part of it. You can help it come about by checking out the Kickstarter and pledging some funds to it, if you're of a mind to.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Rio: The Complete Saga - Doug Wildey

I was eleven when JONNY QUEST premiered in 1964, about the right age to start wondering if I was too old to be watching cartoons. Now I know, of course, that you’re never too old to watch cartoons if you enjoy them. Back in those days, it didn’t take me long to realize that JONNY QUEST was one cartoon I certainly needed to watch, because I thought it was great. Jonny’s globe-trotting adventures reminded me of the Rick Brant novels, my all-time favorite series of boys’ adventure books. At the time, I had no idea that the series was created and developed by a writer/artist named Doug Wildey.

In time I became aware of Wildey’s involvement in the series and learned that he had a significant career in comic books and comic strips as well as animation. But if I ever knew he produced a Western comic book called RIO for various publishers in the Eighties and Nineties, I’d forgotten it, until a friend mentioned on Facebook that he was reading a complete collection of Wildey’s Rio stories. That sent me in search of a copy, which proved to be surprisingly easy to obtain since there’s an ebook edition that’s available on Kindle Unlimited. Since I’ve come to enjoy reading comics digitally (yeah, that surprised me, too), I grabbed it immediately.

Rio is a former outlaw and gunfighter who has gone to work as a troubleshooter for President Ulysses S. Grant. He’s been promised a pardon if he carries out the missions Grant assigns to him. The first one involves taking on a cruel railroad baron and his hired guns in “The Hide Butchers”. That’s the first part of a three-part story that continues in “Satan’s Doorstep”, in which Rio clashes with the U.S. cavalry, and “Robber’s Roost”, in which he ventures into a Mexican village that’s been taken over by outlaws.

In another long, three-part story, “Mr. Howard’s Son”, Wildey fills in more of Rio’s background and reveals that he once rode with Frank and Jesse James and their gang. Rio encounters Jesse again, as Old West outlaw history buffs will realize pretty early on, and the events in this story foreshadow the famous owlhoot’s real-life fate later on.

Rio encounters another old friend, Doc Holliday, in “Hot Lead for Jonny Hardluck”, as a trail that begins with a botched stagecoach robbery ultimately leads Rio to San Francisco. From there, still in company with Doc Holliday, Rio pays a visit to Tombstone in “Red Dust in Tombstone”, a tale that also involves Wyatt and Virgil Earp and Buckskin Frank Leslie. Finally, the volume concludes with “Reprisal”, an unfinished story Wildey was working on at the time of his death, in which Rio tangles with Mexican revolutionaries who are after a load of gunpowder smuggled over the border.

I really enjoyed reading RIO: THE COMPLETE SAGA. Wildey’s artwork is superb all the way through, and his scripts have a gritty tone to them reminiscent of Spaghetti Westerns and the novels written by the Piccadilly Cowboys in the Seventies. The historical aspects seem reasonably accurate, and I think fans of traditional Westerns would enjoy these stories, as well. It’s an excellent collection, a lot of fun to read, and I give it a high recommendation.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Adventure, September 1946

Under the editorship of Kenneth S. White, ADVENTURE was still a good pulp in the late Forties. In this issue, that starts with a cover by Peter Stevens that I really like, illustrating an oil field story by Thomson Burtis. Also on hand in this issue are William Campbell Gault, Jim Kjelgaard, Joe Archibald, Wilbur S. Peacock, Hal G. Evarts, and Bill Adams, among others. This issue is available on-line here, and I'm intrigued enough that I'll probably read the Burtis story, if nothing else, because of my fondness for oil field yarns. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Fifteen Western Tales, November 1943

And so another Old West poker game comes down to a powdersmoke payoff on the cover of this issue of FIFTEEN WESTERN TALES. Sam Cherry was doing most of the covers for FIFTEEN WESTERN TALES during this era, but this one doesn't strike me as being Cherry's work. Whoever painted it, it's effective, no doubt about that. Inside are some excellent authors, including William Heuman, Tom W. Blackburn, Rod Patterson, Lee E. Wells, M. Howard Lane, Glenn Shirley, James Shaffer, Thomas Calvert McClary, house-names David Crewe, Ray P. Shotwell, and Logan C. Claybourne, and lesser-known authors Edwin K. Sloat and Byron W. Dalrymple. That poker player's left hand seems oddly misshapen. I'd like to think that plays into one of the stories inside, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Fuzzy St. John: Our Fuzzy Q. Jones - Bobby J. Copeland

The subject of Al “Fuzzy” St. John came up on the WesternPulps email group a while back. Fuzzy is one of my favorite B-Western movie sidekicks, so when one of the group’s members suggested I read Bobby J. Copeland’s book about him, FUZZY ST. JOHN: OUR FUZZY Q. JONES, I didn’t waste any time hunting down a copy.

It’s an excellent look at St. John’s life and career, with lists and reviews of many of his films, essays about the B-Western stars he supported in more than a hundred movies, and scores of photos from those movies and from St. John’s personal life. Fuzzy, who got his start in silent comedies starring his uncle, the notorious Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, never made it out of those Poverty Row Westerns, but he created a distinctive character with his improvised, acrobatic slapstick and his dryly humorous way with a line of dialogue. He always makes me laugh, every time I see one of his movies. I need to get around to watching more of them. In the meantime, I really enjoyed reading FUZZY ST. JOHN: OUR FUZZY Q. JONES. If you’re a B-Western fan, it’s well worth your time and used copies are available on Amazon.

Monday, September 05, 2022

George Gross: Covered - Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, eds.

I first became aware of George Gross’s work when he did the covers for some of the Nick Carter, Killmaster novels published by Charter Books in the Eighties. He painted some excellent covers for books in that series by my friends Bob Randisi and Bob Vardeman. Later on, I realized that Gross got his start in the pulps, doing many covers for a variety of titles, but the ones that stand out the most to me are the ones on JUNGLE STORIES, where his version of Ki-Gor’s mate Helene became the gold standard for that character.

But between the pulps and the paperbacks, Gross painted scores of covers for the Men’s Adventure Magazines, and that’s the focus of GEORGE GROSS: COVERED, the latest volume from editors Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle of New Texture Publishing.

This is one of the most beautiful books you’ll ever see, reproducing in vivid detail many of those MAM covers Gross painted. I’d post some scans of those issues, but they wouldn’t come close to equaling the reproduction in this book. In addition, Deis and Doyle provide an informative introduction, David Saunders contributes a fine biographical essay about Gross and his work, and fellow artist Mort Kűntsler, who was mentored by Gross, reminisces about their friendship and offers expert comments about Gross’s work.

Finally, the covers themselves. Well, they’re great. The action, the details, and the emotions expressed in them combine to create a real impact, the sort of visceral reaction that drew the eyes of potential readers to those magazines on the newsstand and made those customers want to buy them. Although they were inspired by stories in the magazine (for the most part), when I look at them, I want to write stories with those scenes in them. To me, that’s the ultimate test of a cover, when I think, “Man, I want to write the story that goes with that!” Gross rises to that level, and then some.

Overall, GEORGE GROSS: COVERED is just a wonderful book, available in both hardback and paperback editions. If you’re interested in the Men’s Adventure Magazines or just great action artwork, it gets a very high recommendation from me.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Adventure Trails, February 1939

The third and final issue of this short-lived adventure pulp features a nice machine gun cover (I don't know the artist) and stories by authors who are almost completely forgotten these days. The exceptions are Rodney Blake (because he was actually H. Bedford-Jones) and Robert Moore Williams. The other stories are by James Dorn, Lon Taylor, R.A. Emberg, Paul Carney, Everett Holloway, and house-name Brent North. Several of these authors are well enough known to be mentioned on the cover, but the names don't mean anything to me. Which, as I've often mentioned, doesn't mean the stories aren't good. But a lineup like that may have something to do with why the magazine lasted only three issues.

UPDATE: That cover is by J.W. Scott. Artist ID by Sheila Ann Vanderbeek. Many thanks!

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Mammoth Western, October 1950

Robert Gibson Jones is probably best known for his covers on the Ziff-Davis pulp FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, but he did quite a few covers for Z-D's MAMMOTH WESTERN, as well, including this one which I like quite a bit. I'll always be fond of gun-totin' redheads, and this one is in an intriguing situation. "Robert Eggert Lee", author of the lead story "This Grave for Hire" (a nice title) was actually Ziff-Davis stalwart Paul W. Fairman. Also on hand in this issue are John Reese. writing as John Jo Carpenter, John Prescott, and Peter Germano writing as Barry Cord. Those are the Western writers of note in this issue, although there's also a story (and I'm sure a good one) by William P. McGivern, and yarns by the likes of Frances M. Deegan, Karl Kasky, and Larry Becker.