Friday, December 08, 2023

Whip Hand -- Rod Patterson

I read a Western pulp story not long ago by Rod Patterson and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to read more by him. His first novel is WHIP HAND, published by Lion Books in 1954 and expanded from the novella of the same title published by RANCH ROMANCES in the Second October Number, 1953. I don’t know who did the cover on the first paperback edition, but the novel was reprinted in 1957 with a cover by Mort Kunstler, and that’s the edition I read, pictured at the top of this post.

This is a save-the-ranch yarn, as Cole Brazee, forced to flee from Wyoming with a murder charge hanging over his head (the killing was actually self-defense, of course), comes home to seek justice and vengeance when his father is gunned down. This puts him in the crosshairs of his old enemy, cattle baron Doane Williams, who marries Cole’s old sweetheart just as Cole gets back in town. Many ambushes, shootouts, and brutal fistfights ensue as Cole tries to get to the bottom of the troubles in the area. Oh, and there’s a romantic triangle, too.

Patterson springs an effective plot twist late in the book, but for the most part WHIP HAND makes use of a very traditional plot, the sort of thing you’ve read many times before if you’re a long-time Western fan like me. Plenty of other writers, such as L.P. Holmes and William Heuman, do the same thing. Unfortunately, Patterson wasn’t as good a writer as Holmes and Heuman were, so this novel sort of just plods along despite the occasional nice line or bit of business, so it never really engaged my interest.

Patterson wrote a handful of other novels, all of them published as halves of Ace Double Westerns, and I own several of them. I might give one of them a try someday, or I might not. Your mileage certainly might vary, but I wasn’t very impressed by WHIP HAND. That’s a really nice cover by Mort Kunstler on the second edition, though.


Anders Nilsson said...

Also liked the front cover of the 1957 edition, and its crisp blurb: "One man's gun bucks a Wyoming hell hole".

Sai S said...

Don't know about the paperbacks but that Ranch Romances looks like another J. George Janes cover.

A better version of the cover here clearly has a Janes signature on the bottom right.

James Reasoner said...

Definitely a Janes cover. Thanks!