Love Packs a Six-Gun by John Frederick

CROWN Love Packs A Six-Gun

When a battered copy of Love Packs a Six-Gun by John Frederick slid across my field of vision, I didn’t wait a second to snatch it up. The author is one of many aliases used by Frederick Schiller Faust, better known under his most famous alias, Max Brand.

Interestingly enough (to me) I had never read (to my recollection) any works by Mr. Faust. And given the somewhat obscurity of this Canadian publication via the Crown Novel Publishing Company, now was my opportunity. Printed in 1946, and noted to be “complete and unexpurgated,” I dove right in.

The cover art depicts a blond gunslinger facing off against an unknown figure, his own hand resting casually by his own six-gun. Behind the blonde is a red-dressed lady. The lower portion of the cover is mangled, leaving me to guess whether an artist signed the book or not, but, I have seen one other copy, and no signature was in evidence on that copy, either. However, if I had to guess, I would choose my Canadian artist to be Harold Bennett, based on the style of the “fingers” on the foreground gunman.

The original publication of this story initially had me baffled. This novelette never appeared in the pulps under this title, under any of his aliases. Reading the story quickly cleared the air….

Love Packs a Six-Gun debuted in Western Story Magazine, 26 March 1923 as “The Abandoned Outlaw” under the John Frederick alias.

The story introduces readers to two young boys playing at a schoolyard. The first, Oliver Beam, is an intelligent jock-sized boy, the boy that nobody can beat. The second is Clancy Stewart, a year younger, and his family recently moved out West. His father assigns the young Clancy to pick out the school bully, essentially, and beat him up. Beam is bewildered that this young upstart should mess with him, especially since he is noticeably smaller in frame than himself. The duke it out and Beam is further dumbfounded to find the younger boy a fair match for his oversized brawn. Neither refuse to give up and only break when a young pretty girl, Sylvia West, runs over to stop them from killing each other. Both are bloodied and bruised beyond recognition.

Each boy goes home, and while at Beam’s home, a knock at the door reintroduces the battered Clancy, demanding Beam to continue the fight. Clancy’s father refuses to permit him to step indoors until the fight is settled, with Clancy as victor! So ends Chapter One.

The next chapter slings us into the future. The boys are grown, graduated, in one form or another, and Beam is in charge of his father’s estate, and the richest bachelor in the region. Clancy’s family has always been dirt-poor, inept farmers, and his family is dead and gone. The “estate” is deeply in debt, and creditors have all come upon his father’s recent death to call in their debt(s). Nearly penniless, Clancy laughs them away, but one returns to collect or kill, so being his reputation.

Clancy easily guns the man down, walks into his cabin, phones the sheriff, and confesses to the killing. However, with no witnesses, he’s leery of being arrested. The sheriff is certain of the man’s innocence, and fully aware of the dead man’s reputation.

However, a janitor in town despises Clancy, for he represents everything that he himself is not. A born coward, Clancy is brave in the face of any fear. So, overhearing the sheriff talking on the phone to Clancy, he devises a plan to race afoot out of town, run into the oncoming Clancy, and lying to him, inform that the sheriff intends to arrest Clancy for the murder and use him as a springboard toward the upcoming re-elections.

Convinced, Clancy turns and rides away. Meeting Sylvia West at her father’s ranch, she has yet to hear of the murder, but Clancy informs her and she finally extracts from him that he loves her. Taking a chance, she kisses him, and realizes now, fully, that she is in fact in love with Clancy and not Oliver Beam. That fact had always been left undecided. She cares not for Beam’s money or good-standing. She’s ready to throw her life away and marry an outlaw.

Departing town and region, Clancy flees to parts unknown, works an ore mine, strikes it relatively rich enough to be financially solvent, returns, and presenting his hard work to Sylvia, she finds him inside and out a new man. Clancy again leaves….

Oliver Beam is certain that the outlaw is in the region. In fact, he is certain. Sylvia West is, while always friendly toward him, affectionately cold and distant. On this basis, he spends time at her father’s ranch and one night spots her on horseback riding into the wilderness. Whilst on foot, he chases her, knowing he can keep up because she has to ride slowly at night.

Stealthily he follows and she eventually reaches a remote cabin and finds the two lovers. Listening in, he finally enters the cabin and…well, let’s just say it ends in a shootout. Clancy wins, despite Beam’s astoundingly fast draw. Shot down, but not dead, the mortally wounded Beam is taken in and Sylvia dresses his wound and sends Clancy out for help. He returns with a clergyman, and instructs the man to convince her to marry Beam! She has no certain future with himself, and Clancy knows it, having been convinced by Beam. Bewildered by his assignment, the man rides down and attempts to convince the girl to marry Beam…

Clancy rides away, only to find a notice hammered on a cabin stating that Clancy is a free man, all charges dropped! Turns out that the janitor, on his death-bed, confessed his sin to the sheriff.

Overjoyed, Clancy rides back quick as hell to save Sylvia from marrying Beam. He eventually comes upon the clergyman, whom explains that Sylvia fought him tooth and nail, but in the end, he prevailed, and the two are married.

Clancy, dejected, rides away, only to reflect in astonishment that he wasn’t beat by the law, by Beam’s quick draw, but by a janitor, the town outcast.

The story has subsequently been collected in 1997 and 1998, first by publisher Thomas T. Beeler (Circle V Western, large print edition) and next year via Dorchester / Leisure Books mass market paperback edition. The tale also exists narrated on audio cassette.

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Love Packs a Six-Gun by John Frederick

Gunman’s Bluff by Frederick C. Davis

SHARMAN ELLIS 02 Gunman's BluffI don’t normally read Westerns, however, given that Clark Aiken was the alias of Frederick C. Davis, and I have already read a few published by Sharman Ellis, why commit myself solely to crime tales by this author? To be even more frank, I’ve never actually read a western by Davis.

Gunman’s Bluff appears here as by Clark Aiken, and the story spans pages 1 through 55. The remaining pages of this 64-page thin stapled digest-sized paperback is filled with an uncredited short story (“Beef Stung”) which turns out to be by Frederick C. Davis.

Apparently, this title appears twice by Davis. The second time was in 1935, and the lead character is registered as “Duke Buckland.” No such character appears in my copy. So, we can scratch that one. The earlier title appears for the November 1929 issue of North-West Stories. No further details are noted, however, it is likely that this is the correct story (it ran under his own name in the pulp, rather than under his alias).

The tale opens with “Kid” Corbin riding home to his father’s ranch, which is a destroyed bit of history. Burned out and left to die, his father suffered a horrible fate at the hands of a band of killers led by the vicious El Zorra, a masked bandit that nobody apparently has ever seen, save for various heads of the organization of murderers and pillagers.

Having arrived, Corbin is greeted by a neighboring rancher’s daughter (Derry Murchison) whom Corbin is in love with. Hardly has she ridden across the hill when someone with a long-range rifle attempts to annihilate Corbin. Hearing the echo of the shot, she rides back to investigate. Combining their limited information, she again departs and he rides to town, to meet with the local sheriff.

Sheriff Kinsburn was the person who initially wrote to Kid Corbin to apprise the young man of his father’s death. While in town, Corbin finds the horse belonging to the sniper, and the rifle in the scabbard. Calling the killer out, he guns him down. Much to his chagrin, when the sheriff comes to investigate, someone has made off with the dead man’s rifle. With zero evidence present, the sheriff is forced to arrest Corbin.

Corbin is forced to escape. He can’t solve the mystery in jail, and does not expect a fair trial. The town is loaded with the crooked element, and they want to lynch him.

Breaking free, someone in the dark hands him a gun. The mysterious party is a man, and that is all that Corbin discerns. Nabbing his horse, he takes off and is pursued by the sheriff and posse.

Shot and wounded, he rides into dense foliage and finds himself cornered. Inexplicably, someone from the party assists in his rescue. Turns out to be the girl’s father, from the neighboring ranch. Tricking the posse to chase Corbin in the opposite direction, the pair sneak off to his home. Quickly imparting information and questions, Corbin learns that this man was NOT the person that handed him a six-shooter. The mystery continues….

The girl’s father hides Corbin in another room just as the sheriff rides up and confronts Mr. Murchison. The latter isn’t interested in assisting the sheriff in corralling the young man, and insists that the sheriff is inept and that Corbin is innocent. Annoyed, the sheriff departs.

The story goes all over the place, before settling down to Corbin sneaking into the enemies lair in a cave, disguising himself as one of the marked bandits. All goes awry, he is captured, and while taken away by two men to be murdered, one of the masked men inexplicably shoots the other and shoots a sniper. Effecting their escape, Corbin is nonplussed to learn that this person was not only the man that gave him a six-shooter earlier in the novella, but, he is also his very own dead father!

We later learn that while he was indeed home when the ranch-house was set aflame, someone else was also in the home with him at the time. It was that person’s body they found charred to a crisp. Delirious, and near death, the senior Corbin dragged himself out the back door, wounded, and passed out far away from the burning home. The killers believed him dead the whole time. (Wait a minute! In what world does a gang of killers set fire to a house, after emptying their guns into it, and not cover all exits?)

Realizing he was better off playing the part of a dead man, he infiltrated the gang by wearing a mask and following the gang to their hideout. As thus he remained, the entire time, until his son goofed and blundered into their hands.

The pair pull off a few tricks and in the end rope the leader, whom turns out to be the sheriff, the only logical person left that could be the villain, unless it was someone else yet to be introduced to the reader.

Naturally, the story ends on good terms: the father lives; Mr. Murchison, wounded, also lives, and they go into partnership. And the young lovers? They will inherit everything….

Gunman’s Bluff by Frederick C. Davis

Face Fifty Guns by Robert Moore Williams

ARCHER Face Fifty GunsAfter a bloodied, near-dead stage-coach driver arrives in town and reports an incident to the local law, Deputy Johnny Burke arrives on the scene of a horrific mess. A stage coach is reposing upon its side in a gully, and a man is lying dead on the arid dirt ridge.

Searching the dead man’s pockets, he learns the man was a marshal and finds his badge. Pocketing the badge, he rises only to be given the universal “Hands Up!” demand from a gorgeous (aren’t they all?) young lady, wielding a gun. When he fails to comply, she rips the air with a shot and he soon strips the inexperienced gun-handler of her smoking hardware.

When he learns that she is the lone survivor of the inbound wagon, he is baffled. Why hold-up an inbound coach? Only the outbound wagons were carrying funds from the nearby gold mining operations.

But when a trio of riders approach from town, and he ascertains that they are a marshal and deputies, he advises the girl to hide. Why?

On arriving he instructs the marshal to go blow, and hoists the girl’s long-barrel to enforce his talk, as the trio are out of their jurisdiction. Why are they out there, after all, five miles from the line that they control? Pretty peculiar stuff….

After departing, the girl, whom had been able to view from her tiny peep hole under the carriage one of the trio, positively identifies the big burly bear of a deputy as one of the hold-up men. Gaping, he realizes he’s got to draw a warrant, arrest the bear, and likely go toe-to-toe with a corrupt marshal whom, with his cronies, mysteriously blew into town shortly after gold was discovered.

Burke’s own co-deputy arrives on the scene, and informs him that the local bank confessed that the stage coach was actually secretly bringing in $25,000 cash to dispense to a client. He sends the gal down with him into town. But, on arrival himself, he finds his deputy missing, and so, strikes out alone to arrest the burly-bear. On entering the saloon, the bartender acknowledges the trio are in the back room.

He struts in ready to slap cuffs on and finds the girl in the room laughing it up with the men! She knows the marshal, and from all appearances, is quite intimately acquainted.

What’s going down? Who is the girl really? What’s more, where’s the bank money? Arresting burly-bear, he also slaps cuffs on the gal when he is unable to get her to confess to her charges against the deputy. Covering his departure with revolver upon the two others, he locks the deputy in a cell and tries to coax a confession from her. She clams up.

Then the deputy walks in, caked with road dust and sweat, and proclaims that while bringing in the lady, the marshal and two deputies, whom had been given the “go blow,” they showed up and took his horse and she road it into town, leaving him to rot. Further, while in town, he learns that she is really a dance-hall owner and married to Marshal Kerrigan!!!

The heat is turned up when the deputy is knifed, the pair escape their cells, and Burke has to face the trio and girl, along with a mob of 50 men armed with hardware, ready to kill a lone star deputy. How will he defeat the mob, arrest the trio, and recover the stolen loot?

Burke is one gun against fifty. Those are impossible odds. What he needs is….50 HONEST MEN !!!

A sure-fire, hard-hitting western. Face Fifty Guns by Robert Moore Williams originally was published by MAMMOTH WESTERN (Jan 1948) and here, is reprinted by the Archer Press, in a late 1948 edition. This British edition sports a wonderful action scene likely rendered by Nat Long.

Face Fifty Guns by Robert Moore Williams

Too Soon to Die by Don Wilcox

ARCHER Too Soon To DieAfter finishing an interview with a prospective rancher to sign on as a business partner, Doc Olin begs 24-hours reprieve before deciding. He wants to go into town and ascertain if there is bad blood between the partner and the daughter, whom left home. But when he meets her, a trio of “bad” men burst into the shop’s back door with a bloodied stump of a man.

Doc Olin tends the wounded man while a gigantic behemoth of a beast paws over the girl, calling her his sweetie pie, etc. A jealous rage burns inside the doctor as he realizes that she left the home of a decent man because she was allied with a vicious, murderous, railroad-robbing gang of cut-throats.

After saving the man’s life, he departs, informs the town doctor of his work inside the shop and advises the town doc to find the sheriff. He leaves, and signs his partnership papers.

Time passes. The partners are in a bar, as are the gang, whom taunts the rancher about his daughter being his sweetheart. Having heard enough, he knocks the brute a hard one, and this shuts him up. But, when the rancher accidentally breaks an object purportedly of the girl’s affection toward him, he guns down the rancher.

The gang flees, but not before making a scene that suggests the partner was involved. With the original owner dead and the girl not at home, it appears that he stands to take the ranch for his own. However, the father left his half legally to his daughter.

Distrust is fanned into flames betwixt the pair, and Doc finds that he must play the part of gunslinger for the first time in his life! He must go forth, capture the real killer, and beat a confession out of him.

But, how can a mere doctor compete against a dauntless gang of killers? Will he meet his end, or, is it…TOO SOON TO DIE…

This is one of four simultaneously published 32-page booklets issued in England by the Archer Press in 1948, the cover was illustrated by James E. McConnell. This short novelette originally appeared in the MAMMOTH WESTERN pulp magazine, for December 1947, and was written by Don Wilcox (full name: Cleo Eldon Wilcox)….

Too Soon to Die by Don Wilcox

Outlaw Guns by Robert Moore Williams

ARCHER Outlaw GunsA panic-stricken Ben Ames rides a rough trail into Carter County, in desperate search of a mythical town renown as a haven to outlaws looking to go straight. Wrongly accused of murder, Ben walks fearfully into the office of Sheriff Amos Rockwell, an oldster whom clearly, despite his age, can whip any gunslinger. Amos bids the outlaw to enter, sit, and spill his guts.

Ben does just that, slaps his circular on the desk, and describes his scenario. Sizing him up, the sheriff extracts a worn black book and shows Ben the contents. It is filled with pages of WANTED posters. Each page has annotations by the sheriff in the form of “when arrived,” “details of behavior,” and dates of death and why they died. For, Amos has one rule: walk the straight-and-narrow and if you don’t, he’s gonna shoot you dead. And he legally can hide behind the justification that you ARE, in fact, after all, a WANTED MAN !!!

Trusting in Ben’s wish to do go straight, he offers him a job, as a secret deputy. But then a young lady enters and is also deputized. Ben Ames wonders if Amos has lost his mind. In short minutes, he has done just that, as a Sharps rifle-blast rents the air and blows a hole through the sheriff.

Left in charge of keeping the county civil, he finds that the nearby mining town’s wagon train is robbed, within a day of the sheriff’s death. Realizing now the cause of his death, Ben Ames sets out to find the murderers and bring justice back to Carter County…in a fashion after the hard-hitting stylings of the ex-sheriff.

But when Ben is blackmailed by a cretin wielding the black book, who is also married to the deputized girl, Ben finds his back against the wall, for if he fails to adhere to the demands of this creep, he’ll call the United States Marshal to pick up: Ben Ames: Wanted…for Murder!

Ben is one man alone against a county of villains, or, is he? When ex-outlaws-turned-straight-honest men approach him in the sheriff’s office under the cover of darkness, he learns that these outlaws might be the secret strength needed to back his play to….well, you’ll just have to read the novelette yourself.

Honestly, this is an excellent western, screamingly scrunched into 33-pages using a font type smaller than what you are currently reading here on Facebook!!! Tightly packed and murder on the eyes (grab yourself a magnifying glass) you can count on Robert Moore Williams to supply a highly competent Western yarn in his usual first-rate story-tellin’ style!

Outlaw Guns was published by the Archer Press in 1948. It was originally printed in the USA pulp Mammoth Western (November 1947).

Outlaw Guns by Robert Moore Williams

Guns for the Valley by Russell Storm

ARCHER Guns For The Valley
On returning home to Maikop Valley, 22-year old Tom Crenshaw is back to reclaim his murdered father’s homestead. Five years earlier, Tom, then 17, witnessed Max Hoffman’s riders bullet-riddle his home, murdering his father and burning the home to cinders. With the realization that the Hoffman raiders believed that he was home, too, he lit out for parts unknown, to save his own life. Now, five years later, he sports a six-gun and rides with two tough gun-slinging friends with women of their own, looking for lush lands to settle and cultivate.

Tom only needs to settle a few things: his family land, a blood feud, and claim the hand of Lucy Larkin.

But when he learns that Hoffman has married Lucy and told her that Tom died five years earlier, he’s not the only one looking for answers. Lucy Larkin, fearing for her husband’s life after Tom ghostily re-appears into her life, chambers a six-cylinder into her clothes, slaps leather, and rides out to finish off Tom for keeps, despite the apparent lies that Max Hoffman has told her….

Will Lucy Larkin slay Tom, her ex-romantic childhood flame?
Will Tom and the homesteaders be fanned with hot lead?
Is Max Hoffman truly innocent?
Or, is there something else more sinister afoot?

Guns for the Valley carried Robert Moore Williams’ alias “Russell Storm” on this publication, which was originally printed in MAMMOTH WESTERN (August 1947). This British edition, printed by the Archer Press, appeared circa 1948, is a 33-page pamphlet.

Guns for the Valley by Russell Storm