W. C. Tuttle brings us “Tramps of the Range,” being book 57 in the Garden City Publishing pulp digest-paperback series, and originates within the 28 February 1923 edition of Adventure.
Reading this tale was a surreal pleasure, as I have never read a Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens story. Given that Tuttle has written dozens range-detective tales featuring the duo, this caught me off guard.
The tale is competently told, not quite so fast-paced nor loaded with action, but brings enough to the plate to keep the reader turning page after page to learn what comes next. It was a hard book to put down. Generally, I’m satisfied to stop at the next chapter, and found myself pages into the next one without any forethought.
Hartley and Stevens are investigating a heist and the banking association has the penitentiary early-release their lead suspect from a 5-year term, four years early, in the hopes that he will go straight to the stolen-cached loot. With a Tuttle story, you can bet your ass it ain’t gonna be that simple.
The pair are shot at, their horses are murdered, there is a love-triangle apparent, a girl is in love with the apparent heist-man, the heist-man’s father is gunned down as being the elusive “Black Rider” whom has been robbing carriages and such, etc.
Suffice to say, if you haven’t read a Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens story, this one was a sure-fire romp. And the comradeship between the two, the open goofiness and facetious attitude between one another makes their serious antics aloof, right until they come to climax and must relinquish their tendencies and come to grips with solving the robberies, murders, and twisted love affairs.
Thankfully, a good many of Tuttle’s tales are available in vintage paperback form, and can be readily found online, or, if you are fortunate enough to live near a decent used bookshop (I live in hell, so I’m not so lucky) then pay them a visit!