“The Clean-Up On Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson

75 The Clean-Up On Dead Man

Book 75 in the Garden City Publishing “cheap” digest-paperback series, which ran from 1923 through 1927, is “The Clean-Up on Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson. The tale originated within the 25 August 1924 edition of Short Stories pulp magazine. The cover art hails from the 25 April 1924 Short Stories and was created by James Reynolds.

Ted Marsh, a lone rancher, joins a crooked posse reportedly chasing two rustlers. Ted knows that the majority of those present are villains, and is interested in seeing how events play out. However, when they eventually do capture the rustlers, Ted and three others are ordered by the corrupt sheriff to head back with the rustled horses. Realizing that something is afoot, Ted breaks from the pack and circles wide back on the trail, to the spot where the duo was captured.

Ted discovers nobody at the cabin but discovers an envelope with the name Monson on it. Never having heard of the fellow, he heads onward toward a train depot, realizing that the sheriff and gang could only head in that direction.

While spying on the gang, Ted is bonked over the head and tossed in a river, to die. Remarkably he stays afloat on some form of a decrepit raft (how convenient) and a rascally old varmint fishes him out of the river. When Ted comes to, he is suffering from amnesia, and the old fellow, having found the envelope in Ted’s possession, has read the contents and believes that Ted is mixed up with a bunch of train robbers.

When Ted eventually recovers his memory, he sets the fellow straight, and learns that the old man knows the actual identity of the supposed sheriff (again, how convenient, eh?). The pair join forces and ride back to Ted’s county, to try and unseat the sheriff and unmask the band of robbers.

But plans oft need go awry, otherwise I’d be reading a short story instead of a long novelette. Trying to remain hidden from all, he is immediately discovered by a half-breed (belonging to the gang) and then boldly rides into town. The innocent members of the town are shocked to behold Ted, alive! They had all heard that he died, likely drowned, when his horse was found by the river. Unable to set them straight on what actually happened, for one can’t simply accuse the sheriff without evidence, Ted begins to plant seeds….

However, the sheriff and gang hardly wait until night falls before ambushing him at the hotel and try to assassinate him. Ted breaks free with the aid of the old varmint. The latter is arrested, but Ted escapes captivity and flees to a ranch where he used to be well-known and liked.

A posse is formed to capture him. The sheriff alluded to the townspeople that Ted lost his mind and assaulted two men, etc. The posse rides up to the ranch and all hell breaks loose and a gun battle ensues.

Rather than have anyone hurt  or die on his account, Ted eventually surrenders and the sheriff locks him away. Word soon circulates that Ted and the old codger are due to be whacked during the course of the night, but the local women sabotage the sheriff’s plans, by bringing freshly cooked food to the jail, in order to keep the men detained. The sheriff had intended on releasing the pair at night to go eat at a restaurant and establish an alibi as to why they were killed, supposedly trying to escape. But when word of this plot got out, the women flipped the position by eradicating the necessity of feeding the men at the restaurant, by bringing the food directly to them.

The old codger feigns that the women-folk poisoned his food and the deputy sheriff opens the cell to retrieve the trays of food while he is groveling in agony upon the ground (talk about an overused plot device!) and then the old fellow yanks the deputy to the ground, retrieves his gun and ties the fellow up.

Making good their escape, Ted and he depart and, after learning that the sheriff and other key members of the gang are missing all day, realize that the gang has decided to seek greener pastures. The local bank, which was being used to hide the stolen gold and funds from the bank heist, is now empty!

The pair hump a pair of horses and rake the ground with hooves, tearing up the miles in hot pursuit of the gang. Wildly outnumbered, they are bemused to learn that the gang no longer trusts one another and whack one another, as each member of the gang tries to make off with the loot.

Finally, with little resistance remaining, Ted takes in the lone survivor of the gang, retrieves the stolen loot, and coming home, learns that he is to earn a fat reward from various enterprises…..

It’s a rather loose story, with loads of padding.

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“The Clean-Up On Deadman” by Frank C. Robertson

“Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle

71 Straight Shooting

Book 71 is “Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle.
The novella originally appears in the 10 August 1924 Short Stories magazine and the cover art debuted upon the 25 July 1925 edition, was created by Paul Strayer. The tale jumped to the Hollywood big screen as “The Border Sheriff” (25 April 1926) (though the screen version, naturally, differs from the novel).

NOTE: If you want to read another blog entry on
W. C. Tuttle, try this one:

http://buddiesinthesaddle.blogspot.com/2011/01/w-c-tuttle-thicker-than-water.html

 

Foremost, this novel sure fits among Tuttle’s better, earlier Western efforts, with a “fairly” concrete plot. Unlike most others, Tuttle opens this tale in Chinatown, San Francisco, with our hero dining in a Chinese restaurant, for unknown reasons. Remarkably, while present, he learns that two hoodlums, dining across the ways, are about to slay a man (accompanied by a pretty girl).

Our hero (swoon) is Cultus Collins, who makes what appears to be his third pulp appearance, and, for my money, I find him more desirable than Sad Sontag.

Realizing that the hoodlums are part of a plan to assassinate the incoming pair, Cultus leaps into action, gunning down one of the pair of assassins and, steals the innocent pair out the back door. There, they are accosted by a policeman and Cultus knocks him down. Cultus quickly hurls the duo into a passing taxi cab and then vanishes, himself.

The story then switches locale, and we find the girl (Joan) and the man (Uncle Henry Belden) back on the HB Ranch. We learn that the pair had been out West signing “options” on their ranch, but, in fact, as is often the case in westerns, the papers were switched out and they actually sold the ranch for pennies on the dollar to a crook, name of Carter Brace.

The plot thickens and becomes more convoluted when Tuttle introduces literally a dozen-plus other assorted characters, many of whom seem useless to the plot, until Collins wraps up the whole scenario for us in the closing pages.

We are introduced to the fact that Uncle Henry has a neighbor, one “Red” whom is a couple years older than Joan. He’s never been into being sociable, but one day rides onto the ranch with a wounded horse. He is awkward in their presence, and Tuttle leaves the reader with the impression of bad-blood between Red’s deceased father and Uncle Henry, whom at one time were partners….

Furthering that, cows have been vanishing from the HB Ranch and Joan one day stumbles across some of the missing brand being rustled by “Red” and his crew. She is repelled by “Red” and his actions, and to worsen matters, he seems to have developed a romantic disposition towards her and fancies matrimony! His apparent awkwardness around her is hilarious to degrees.

Meanwhile, in town, Carter Brace has hired an unscrupulous lawyer, name of Hewette, whom goes so far as to blackmail Brace into surrendering all the cattle on the HB Ranch to him! Hewette is curious why Brace would do so, since the roaming steaks amount to all the ranch’s invested value. Or does it? He soon discovers that Brace has a mining background….

Coincidentally, fate lands Cultus Collins in town and he tangles with some hardliners, showing he is ably capable with both fists or guns. Making quick friends afterward at the bar, he hires on with a local ranching interest and keeps his head low for a while, then decides to investigate the local claims of rustlers, led by the nefarious Dutch Oven gang.

Before riding out, Collins is spotted and recognized by Brace. He sends a wire to San Francisco, informing authorities that HERE is the man that shot up the patronage at the Chinatown eatery. The authorities wire a telegram to the local sheriff to arrest Collins.

Riding into the range, he and Tater-Bug (one of the hands) are spotted by a look-out. They eventually make their way back to their camp, only to discover their horses are missing. Much later in the novel, Collins goes solo at night and makes it through the pass, to discover nary a gang, but a lone shed with a crazy Indian, and the missing horses. He kills the Indian and begins to understand that the Dutch Oven gang are a blind.

The sheriff departs to hound Collins, but later is found shot dead. Everyone assumes that Collins murdered the sheriff. The deputy now finds himself promoted and shockingly yet, Collins sneaks into the office and declares his innocence. No need. The new sheriff believes him an honest man already, and to his surprise, Collins asks him to be deputized! After which, exit Collins (to investigate the Dutch Oven hideout, as aforementioned).

Everything finally comes to a head when the HB Ranch owner and Joan ride into town, doing final battle at the courthouse. Everyone is present, and the defense shocks the crowd when they call Cultus Collins in as a witness. Hewette declares that he can’t be a witness, as he is wanted for murder, and insists the sheriff arrest him. Cultus seats himself, and keeps a long barrel rifle with him, covering the guilty parties.

He slowly unmasks all the villains present, and naturally, some are moronic enough to do that on their own. He bluffs his way through Brace, stating he has a telegram from California demanding THAT man’s arrest for other crimes. Brace tries to draw but is gunned down. The telegram, incidentally, is blank. We then learn that the 8 Bar 8 ranch are the true rustlers, and lawyer Hewette owns a half stake in that ranch! Exit Hewette!

Joan realizes now that “Red” was not the leader of the gang, and he informs her that he was stealing the cows to sell on the side to save Uncle Henry’s interests. All is forgiven, naturally, and we know that the awkward “Red” will begin to court Joan.

My synopsis of the novel does not do Tuttle justice, not in the least. There are tons of other side plots going on, and humorous tidings, too. Tuttle has a refined knack for inserting humor at opportune moments that do little to distract from the pace of the novel.

My copy of this rare novel is in deplorable condition. The cover is detached, rear cover missing, and, the last dozens of pages are rat chewed, causing slight loss of text to some pages, but, the identity of the missing words is quite evident.

 

“Straight Shooting” by W. C. Tuttle

“The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter

66 The Lone Hand Tracker

Book 66 is “The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter.

It’s unclear (to me) where this long novelette first appeared. The book sports an original copyright notice of 1924. None of the tales recorded thus far, on FictionMags, remotely match this story. The cover art hails from an unknown edition of Short Stories magazine. While unsigned, it appears to be the work of James Reynolds.

The tale itself is dreadfully slow and drags on. It is nearly a Western nor a true wilderness tale, although it clearly leans more toward the latter.

Hartley Peckham is, essentially, a bounty hunter. He is also an excellent tracker. With the state overrun by outlaws, the governor contracts Peckham and desires to swear him in as an officer of the law, but Peckham works alone, and works according to his own rules. Thus retained, we find Peckham in the opening pages trailing a wagon heading deep into the wilderness, when he spots foot prints running back away from the tracks of the wagon. Then he notes that the tracks reverse direction and return in the direction of the wagon. It is not long before he also notes that a bear is running after the wagon, and he rightly surmises that the girl foolishly tried to pot the bear and it charged them.

The bear chose to pursue the wagon, leaving the girl stranded. She attempts to find her own way but becomes hopelessly lost. Peckham tracks her down and, rescuing her, brings her to the local settlement. Here, she is handed over to her fiance, Doctor Bristow.

Peckham seems interested in some recent news of a heist, but you can feel the tension radiating between the doctor and himself. Further, he alludes to the fact that he is aware that the girl’s father is a wanted man, having stolen bank funds.

She immediately throws in her lot with the doctor and anyone (legal or otherwise) to overthrow the shackles of Peckham. She doesn’t want her father caught, and doesn’t realize that she is entirely in a bad situation.

As the novel progresses, we eventually learn that she hardly knows the doctor, that he himself is not as he seems (actually a convict whom fled from the West and assumed another man’s identity who IS a doctor in Chicago), and further that, he is in league with local outlaws and they plan to strip her father and her of the bank funds and leave them, in all likelihood, for dead.

Finally realizing her predicament, she is left to self-pity and vainly hoping that Peckham, a man she has made clear to plainly detest and vocally wish death upon, would come and rescue her!

Instead, she makes good her escape, accidentally, with the aid of one of Peckham’s friends, a cripple. They totter over the side and into a valley, falling most a long way down and bloodying themselves up real good.

Three of the outlaws try to pursue them, but to no avail. They ride off to the nearest town to obtain the loot, which the father had hid in a bank vault. They have the key and papers now in their possession, having obtained the key from the father and slaying him. The daughter feels no remorse for him, for her father turned out to be more interested in his own well-being than for hers.

Three remaining outlaws from the bank heist remain at the camp site, and Peckham and two others ride hard in and gun them down. Immediately Peckham puts his tracking abilities to work and most the day later, finally finds a way down to the bottom of the ravine, and nearing night, discovers the pair, asleep against a tree. They would have frozen to death over night.

Safe and secure again, Peckham takes the girl to town, beating the outlaws, since he knows short-cuts, and while at the bank in the morning to withdraw the funds they are beset upon by the criminals. Guns are drawn and they die while Peckham is creased across the ribs.

The tale clumsily wraps up with the girl acknowledging her interest in this beastly man, and he eventually takes her back to the deep woods, to claim as his own.

In conclusion, the book isn’t awful, but, it simply was not for me. I’ve never read a story by Winter prior, but, this one didn’t instill any interest in me to pursue him any further. That aside, his working knowledge of the wilderness, etc, is well-written indeed, but the flow of the story simply did not appeal to this reader.

“The Lone Hand Tracker” by William West Winter

“The Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead

65 The Scourge Of The Little C

Book 65 is “Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead. This pulp reprint to 1920s soft-cover paperback “cheap edition” is a well-written novella hailing originally from the August 1925 issue of The Frontier magazine. The artwork is from the 10 August 1925 issue of Short Stories.

“Dimp” Gier rides into town in time to be the partial witness to a gunning. Unconcerned with the rowdy surroundings, he deposits his horse at the stable and takes a room for the night. The hotelier and stableman are afraid for their lives once they realize the man is with the secret “C” society, which has been lynching and killing, locally.

The reader is confused by all this talk, and Grinstead does well to keep us adequately in the dark until he feels like dispensing with further information. Eventually we learn that the rider, “Dimp,” so named for the dimples he sports, thus created when a bullet ripped through his face, while short of stature but strong as an ox, is one of the secret original founding heads to the “C” group, an association bent to exacting justice and cleaning up the county and surrounding areas from rustlers and killers and other assorted malcontents that are ruining their homesteads.

The next day, he leaves the hotel and rides out to the J Bar B ranch, run by old man John Barton, whom has a deaf wife whom can read lips fairly well, and of course, the traditionally necessary lovely heroine daughter, whom handles the ranch books and funds, etc.

Dimp lets Barton in on who he is but demands that nobody else be informed. Despite that, it isn’t long before the crew figure out he is “somebody” since Barton refers to him as “Mr. Gier.” Dimp insists on bunking with the fellows and that Barton desist from the “Mr.” as it gives away everything (yeah, no shit, right?)

There are many harrowing battles throughout the book, many killings, lots of vicious episodes, and throughout, Dimp maintains his distance from Barton’s daughter, despite the fact that she has finally come around to liking him and can’t fathom why he refuses to mingle with her. Man of little words but loads of action, Dimp is set on focusing on the task at hand rather than mix it up with a girl.

Things come a head one day when the neighbors are all rounded up to attend a party, and Dimp ends up dancing with the daughter (Edna). But when another man (Keechi) arrives on the scene, Keechi, looking in from a window, is infuriated to spot Dimp dancing with “his girl.” This man is part of the local criminal element and a large gun battle ensues.

Many are injured, and the leader of the gang and Keechi effect their escape.

While riding back to their ranch, Barton, Edna, and Dimp are astounded to behold before them the very dark handsome tall leader of the criminals, one Dan Pemberton, astride a fine horse, before them. He draws on Pimp, realizing he is the brains behind the resistance but Dimp takes him alive. While traversing a ferry, the four are under heavy fire from the banks and a stray bullet meant for Dimp’s skull takes the taller Pemberton full in the face. He pitches over the rail and dies in the waters.

Dimp is enraged to learn that a heavy barrage of fire had been directed at Edna, and knows that Keechi, realizing that she is no longer “his girl,” has decided to slay her.

A final battle ensues when Tinshkila (a local ranking Indian) sends a fellow man to bring Barton a note to come to their aid, as the rustlers have now heavily infiltrated their territory.

Barton, Dimp, and crew mount (and leave Edna and mom home alone with four to protect them, just in case) and ride off to assassinate the entire bloody lot of villains. This they handily do, but some escape, among them, Keechi. Dimp rides like hell back to the ranch in time to save the woman he loves and they fall into each other’s arms and Dimp idly wonders, as papa Barton strides in, just what he thinks about his daughter in Dimp’s arms.

Apparently he isn’t worried….

This is a fine novel, and I strongly advise anyone with the opportunity and interest in Westerns with sound plots, to read it. You won’t be disappointed. I’m somewhat surprised that this novel never made it to the big screen, but it might have been too complex for Hollywood and the audience to devour.

“The Scourge of the Little C” by J. E. Grinstead