Friday, May 26, 2023

The Man Who Tamed Dodge - Philip Ketchum

Philip Ketchum had a long, very successful career as a Western pulpster and novelist and also wrote many excellent crime, detective, and historical adventure yarns for the pulps. THE MAN WHO TAMED DODGE, published in 1967 by Lancer Books as a paperback original, is one of his later novels and is the first of at least three books about the character known as Cabot.

However, despite the title, the cover copy, and the cover art by Don Stivers featuring the iconic model Steve Holland, THE MAN WHO TAMED DODGE is not about a gun-slinging, town-taming lawman. Cabot, whose real name is Elijah Cabot Pickering, is a former sea captain who, after an argument with his shipping magnate father, heads west to make his own fame and fortune after vowing to return to Massachusetts someday and buy his family’s shipping line. On his way to Dodge, he makes the acquaintance of an affable gambler who promptly robs him. But when he reaches his destination, he finds that the gambler has used the stolen money as the stakes in a poker game and won big, which he splits with Cabot. Now Cabot has enough money to put his plan into motion: He’s figured out a way to cut in on the town’s fledgling cattle shipping business.

You should be getting the idea by now that this is not a shoot-em-up Western. In fact, it’s pretty deliberately paced and thoughtful, with a protagonist who’s not a traditional Western hero. But don’t assume it’s slow and boring, either. Cabot was tough enough to captain ships, and he doesn’t back down from trouble. He gets into several brutal fistfights, and although he’s not a natural gunman, he handles a Colt fairly effectively when he has to. He’s also smart and has the knack of getting people on his side. Ketchum piles on the twists and turns in the plot until everything comes together for a classic Western showdown at the end.

This is the first book I’ve read from the Will Robertson Collection, and that’s the copy in the scan above. It’s the third printing from 1969. As far as I know, it’s never been reprinted since then and neither have the other Cabot novels. THE MAN WHO TAMED DODGE is really good, a slightly offbeat Western that I had a great time reading. Ketchum never disappoints, at least in my experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I have read three of the Cabot books, this one, and two others: THE MAN WHO SOLD LEADVILLE and CABOT. I think I also have THE MAN WHO TURNED OUTLAW. I am hoping that there are more and I can find them. I have also read two other Ketchum books: THE NIGHT RIDERS and his excellent novelization of the movie, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF. He is one of the best Western authors I have ever read and it’s a shame that his stuff isn’t better known and republished.