“Siege in Cedar Valley” is a 32-page pamphlet published by Martin & Reid under their Arrow Books western line was written by John Theydon.
I was absolutely looking forward to reading this author again. When was the first? We’d have dial time back to the mid-1990s, when I attended my first PulpCon, which was still being held at Bowling Green, Ohio.
I picked up a battered copy of Round-Up Magazine, and on returning to my room for the night, of all the purchases, this one arrested my eye. On opening the pages, I found that it was not a magazine, despite the cover’s assertion, but, a full-length novel written by John Theydon was featured. It was competently written and had a verifiable plot. As such, John Theydon is one of those authors that I would love to read time and time again. However, locating his vintage westerns isn’t altogether an easy task. That aside…
“Siege in Cedar Valley” begins with Jeff Milner assaulting his ranch boss for manhandling a waitress in a bar. A man of strong ethics, he had to act, despite the rest of the crew doing nothing. Discharged from the ranch for assault and informed he’d go without his pay, Milner departs and rides (eventually) toward the ranch to collect his effects.
He overhears an angry conversation ahead, and dismounting, sneaks up, and finds that his erstwhile ex-boss in deep conversation with a slick-dressed man, whom ends up shooting (near-fatally) the ex-boss. Milner draws and shoots the assailant, but fails to nail him, instead shooting off a silver spur of unique design.
Milner checks on the shot man and finds him alive, but in dire straits, when he is inexplicably caught by another rancher and told to drop his hardware. This newcomer claims to the ex-boss that he saw everything, and that it was Milner that done the shooting.
Realizing that he’s been boxed in to take the fall, that the ex-boss was in cahoots with his assailant, and that with the law and judge in his pocket, his life will soon expire at the end of a rope, he lashes out, fights the two off, and escapes under a hail of flying lead.
Heading south, he stops at a border town known to be home to illicit activities and finds the man with the missing silver spur. Unfortunately, he is also recognized and the villains all attempt to take him.
Escaping by jumping into a river and flowing downstream, he clambers out under the cover of darkness and re-infiltrates the town, sodden. Spying the silver-spur man and others departing, he follows the group and learns of a secret cave. Sneaking in, Milner discovers that the slick dude controls a hidden oasis filled with stolen cattle. Overhearing their plans, he learns that they intend to lay siege to Cedar Valley and kill off their boss (Milner’s ex-ranch boss, whom is master of this whole setup). Milner couldn’t really care less about those on the ranch, since they are apparently all crooked, however, there is a girl there that he loves.
Returning to the ranch, he arrives scarcely minutes ahead of the gang. Peering in a window, he sees his ex-boss in bed cared for by a doctor and the crooked sheriff and others present. A gun is shoved into his backside and he’s told to reach. It’s the girl! She spotted him sneaking onto the ranch. Trying to explain his innocence, but she won’t have any of it, he grabs and throws her to the ground as a hail of bullets from the gang herald their arrival. Saving her life, he is rewarded by the sheriff and posse with a bump over the noggin.
Returning to the world of the living, he’s cuffed, and led off to jail. While en route, he learns that the girl was captured by the gang and is being held for $20,000 ransom. The ex-boss won’t pay, which means the gang will all have their way with her until her use(s) have come to an abrupt end.
Hearing from his cell that the town intends to lynch him, he feels small pebbles pelt him fro the cell window. Looking out, he’s nonplussed to spot the girl from the bar trying to save him! Tossing him a revolver and imploring he use it to escape, he does just that, holding up the jailer and escaping.
The entire town gives chase and he leads them directly to the gang’s lair.
The rest is obvious. The gang are busted up, some die reaching rather than hanging, and Milner frees the girl and she inherits the ranch…and needs a good strong man to help her run it. It’s a decent story but deeply restrained by the 32-pages.
The cover art, by illustrator “F. T.,” has zero to do with the content. No such scene ever occurs.