Library Column: Large Print Westerns

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2021

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County – Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features Westerns from our New Large Print collection.

Max McCoy combines fast-paced action, frontier history and family drama in his latest “The Ghost Rifle.” Jack Picaro is descended from a long line of wanderers and swindlers and has come to America to seek his fortune. He must flee further west after killing his best friend in a drunken dual leaving behind his children Gus and April. As Jack treks up the Missouri River, he is met by an Arikara war party and loses his rifle in the bloody confrontation. Determined to reclaim it, he sets out alone and his wild escapade ends with a fight to the death with legendary Crow warrior Standing Wolf. Jack has left a trail of clues for his abandoned son, Gus, to follow. The journey will take him across the untamed West: from the muddy banks of the Mississippi to the snow-covered peaks of the Rockies.

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“Outlawed” by Anna North can be described as “The Crucible” meets “True Grit.” It is an adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of thieves and a dangerous mission to transform the Wild West. Ada’s life at 17 is a good one. She is happily married to a good man, and she loves being an apprentice midwife under her mother’s tutelage. After a year of marriage and no children — in a town where barren women are hanged as witches — Ada will have to leave behind everything she knows in order to survive. She falls in with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang led by a preacher-turned-outlaw known to everyone as the Kid. The Kid is charismatic, ambitious and impulsive; and he is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. To accomplish this goal, the gang implements a plan that could very well get them all killed. Ada will have to decide if she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future.

“Calvert’s Last Bluff” is the latest Ralph Compton novel by E.L. Ripley. Tom Calvert boards a riverboat in Omaha, Neb. to play a high-stakes game of poker, but he is accused of cheating and a deadly gunfight ensues. Tom is injured, but he knows his enemies will come looking for him, so he reticently accepts a bargain from a young stowaway, Asher. Calvert agrees to teach Asher how to become a gunslinger and Asher will lead them to a possibly mythical town called Friendly Field. To get there, the two will battle assassins, dangerous Shoshone and the brutal wilderness of the Oregon Trail.

“The Illinois Detective Agency: the Case of the Missing Cattle” by Ethan J. Wolfe sees the elderly founder and matriarch of the titular Detective Agency running her firm from afar in 1884. Founded in 1848, the agency began as a stock detective agency and while the founder is still an integral part of the business, she relies heavily on Porter for day-to-day operations. When the Stock Growers Association of Montana appeals to Porter for help with a major cattle theft problem in the territory, Porter assigns two of his best agents to the case, James Duffy and Jack Cavill. Both men are experts in the forensics of the day, excellent marksmen and superior detectives, but if the local sheriffs and the army have been unable to stop these thefts, will they?

Finally, we have three new titles from William W. Johnstone. First is “Bullet For A Stranger: A Red Ryan Western.” Red Ryan is a stagecoach guard and one of the fastest guns in the West, but this time, he is in for the longest, hardest ride of his life. Red and his driver Buttons Muldoon have been hired to escort an army traitor facing court-martial in New Orleans. Every hired killer in Texas wants him dead. Red Ryan will have to shoot his way out of 700 miles of deadly terrain with cutthroat gangs hot on his heels.

Second, we have “Buzzard’s Bluff.” When Ben Savage Receives a telegram informing him that an old friend has died and left him his saloon, Ben is not sure what to think. Western saloons have a reputation as wild places where rowdy ranchers and cocky cowboys, high-stakes gamblers and low-life drifters congregate in search of hard liquor and easy women. As an experienced lawman, Ben figures he can run a decent establishment with the help of the saloon’s lovely manager Rachel Baskin. The only problem: a rival saloon owner wants Ben out of the way so that he can run all the vice in town.

Lastly, there is “Gold Mine Massacre.” For Smoke Jensen and his daughter Denny, life on Sugarloaf Ranch is more valuable than all the gold in the world. Which is a good thing because all the mines in Big Rock dried up years ago, but that doesn’t stop a couple of seemingly smooth-talking hucksters from trying to squeeze out a little more. One of them has come up with a new way to extract gold using something called “hydraulics.” His partner is the son of a legendary gunslinger and Denny has become smitten with his good looks. Smoke isn’t sure what to make of these two, but he knows that the small army of gunfighters they’ve hired to protect their investments can only lead to trouble. Bad things happen when you mix gold, guns and star-crossed lovers.