Monday, June 10, 2024

Mountain Raiders - Peter Henry Morland/Max Brand (Frederick Faust)

Max Brand, whose real name was, of course, Frederick Faust, is another author whose work I’ve been reading for 60 years. The first thing I read by him was the novel SINGLE JACK, in a Dodd, Mead hardback checked out from the Fort Worth Public Library bookmobile that came out to our little town every Saturday morning. I loved it and have gone on to read many more of his stories and novels over the decades. (Years later, the Fort Worth Public Library discarded that same exact copy of SINGLE JACK and it wound up in our local library, where I checked it out and read it again. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the book that time around, but I remained a Max Brand fan.)

Faust wrote three novellas about a gunman/adventurer named Jim Tyler, sometimes known as The Wolf. These were published in the venerable pulp STREET & SMITH’S WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE under the pseudonym Peter Henry Morland in the spring of 1932 and many, many years later collected in a Leisure paperback volume under the Max Brand name called DON DIABLO. That collection is still available in an e-book edition on Amazon, which is where I read the first Jim Tyler novella “Mountain Raiders”, originally published in the April 9, 1932 issue of WESTERN STORY.

This one is set in the mountains of Mexico, where the manager of a group of silver mines owned by an American syndicate hires Tyler to fight off the raids of a notorious bandit known as El Tigre. Tyler rounds up a group of fellow gunfighters and adventurers to deal with El Tigre. This part of the story has a definite Magnificent Seven feeling to it. There’s a huge battle, of course, in which (SPOILER—but not much of one) Tyler and his men emerge triumphant through the use of a clever trick on Tyler’s part. Then, halfway through the story, things abruptly change and Tyler, at the behest of a beautiful señorita, gallivants off to rescue a Mexican revolutionary who’s been unjustly imprisoned.

Despite the fact that “Mountain Raiders” reads more like two short stories crammed together than an actual novella, the writing is excellent, as you’d expect from Faust, with vivid descriptions, top-notch dialogue, and some great action. El Tigre is a fine villain and I’m sure he and The Wolf will clash again. Jim Tyler is an intriguing character, and I’m eager to read more about him, although I’ll probably space out the other two novellas. If you’re a Max Brand fan, though, I think I can already recommend DON DIABLO.

1 comment:

Fred Blosser said...

I read a bunch of Max Brand books at 15 when they were all over the newsstands from Pocket Books and Popular Library. THE JACKSON TRAIL, VALLEY VULTURES, KING OF THE RANGE, GOLDEN LIGHTNING . . . pretty sure there were a couple more. THE JACKSON TRAIL was reprinted a few years ago by Leisure, as THE GIRALDI TRAIL (sp?). I thought it was pretty good but not as good as I did at 15!