Monday, June 17, 2024

Rawhide Bound - Peter Henry Morland/Max Brand (Frederick Faust)

I was a little thrown by “Rawhide Bound”, the second Jim Tyler novella which appeared originally in the April 23, 1932 issue of STREET & SMITH’S WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE under the name Peter Henry Morland and then was reprinted in the collection DON DIABLO under the Max Brand name. As you may recall from my review of “Mountain Raiders”, the first novella in the series, Jim Tyler is a drifting gunman/outlaw/adventurer sometimes known as The Wolf. When I started reading “Rawhide Bound”, I expected another epic clash between Tyler and the Mexican bandit called El Tigre.

Instead, Tyler is back north of the border, visiting an old prospector who’s a friend of his. The old-timer has discovered a fabulously valuable gold mine. Then he’s wounded and kidnapped, and Tyler sets off to find and rescue him.

The trail leads Tyler to an abandoned hacienda in a desolate mountain pass that’s been taken over by a gang of outlaws. Because of his encounter with these owlhoots, he winds up being imprisoned and tortured by yet another Mexican bandit.

At first, this doesn’t read like a sequel to “Mountain Raiders”, and Jim Tyler (who is never referred to as The Wolf in this one) could be any of Frederick Faust’s borderline superhuman protagonists. This novella also seems like it was cobbled together out of elements from several different yarns.

However, Faust’s colorful, compelling prose elevates it beyond what it might have been, and eventually, connections with the previous story are revealed. The torture scenes are harrowingly suspenseful, although I thought the ending itself wasn’t all it could have been. Overall, I liked this story, although not as much as the first one, and I’m looking forward to the third and final Jim Tyler tale, which I hope to read soon.

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