Monday, June 24, 2024

The Trail of Death - Peter Henry Morland/Max Brand (Frederick Faust)

“The Trail of Death”, which appeared in the May 21, 1932 issue of STREET & SMITH’S WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE under the pseudonym Peter Henry Morland, is the third and final novella to feature Jim Tyler, the daring gunman and adventurer also known as The Wolf. It’s a good wrap-up to the series with numerous references back to the previous two stories.

After battling Mexican bandits El Tigre and Miguel Cambista separately in the first two stories, in this yarn the two villains team up to seek their vengeance on Jim Tyler. Fate lends them a hand, as one of Tyler’s friends whom he had previously rescued from the clutches of El Tigre, ventures south of the border again because he’s in love with a beautiful señorita. El Tigre and Cambista kidnap him, knowing that when Tyler gets word of his friend’s plight, he will come to their stronghold to try to save him, and then they’ll have Tyler right where they want him!

Of course, things don’t necessarily work out the way the two schemers hope they will. Plenty of action and derring-do ensue as Tyler sets out to foil their evil plan.

It all makes for an exciting, well-written tale that has a satisfying ending. Frederick Faust leaves the door open for more adventures of Jim Tyler, but as far as I know, there weren’t any. All three stories were reprinted under the Max Brand name in the collection DON DIABLO, a puzzling title since there’s absolutely no reference in any of the stories to a character known by that name. The e-book edition of that collection is still available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited, and used copies of the print editions are pretty easy to come by. Also worth noting is that this third story appeared under the title “Greaser Trail” when it was published in WESTERN STORY. Evidently “The Trail of Death” was Faust’s original title for it, and somebody changed it back to that for its reprint appearance.

DON DIABLO is a really solid collection. I’m a little surprised it wasn’t published as a fix-up novel back in the Fifties or Sixties, as so many of Faust’s series of linked novellas were. If you’re a Max Brand fan and haven’t read this one, it’s well worth your time.

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