author Hugh Pendexter (Black Dog Books, $14.95) is a highly entertaining
Although these tales originally appeared in the 1920’s and 1930’s, they
are still quite enjoyable today, even to those who don’t read western
Pendexter is not a household name in the western field like Louis L’Amour
or Zane Grey, but he is an excellent story-teller with a nice sense of
The author’s grandson, Hugh Pendexter III provides a brief foreward with
family observations about his relative while Wayne Dundee offers more
insights about Pendexter and his writing career.
The first three short stories in this collection are actually novellas,
each featuring the Shorthorn Kid, initially introduced as Hiram Polk. He
gets his nickname on the first page, after he buys a horse and saddle
from a pair of waddies (cowboys) in Kansas.
A crack shot, the Kid knows little about cattle; but he joins up with
Tall Tim and another cowboy heading down to the Slater Ranch in Texas.
The Kid is a quick learner and gets along well with most of the other
cowboys; he has a special ability when it comes to a particular type of
gambling. Problems arise when part of the herd goes missing and rustlers
The other two Kid stories are also set in the years following the Civil
War, dealing with devious cowboys and clever killers. Pendexter further
develops his main character; it’s fun to watch the growth of the Kid.
“One Town Comes Back” showcases a group of outlaws who take refuge in a
town that’s mostly deserted since frustrated silver miners and others
left. A somewhat demented old man, his granddaughter and her boyfriend
are the only ones left in town; trouble erupts as tempers flare.
“Little Man – Big Guns” originally appeared in the pulp magazine “Western
Novelets” in 1936, but still is a fresh tale full of surprises. It’s set
in Montana, dealing with a pretty woman, her hulking husband and a cowboy
with bad intentions.
Black Dog Books has published many other fine trade paperback reprints of
old pulp stories, including works by Lester Dent, Frederick Nebel and H.
Bedford Jones. For more information, go to www.blackdogbooks.net.
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