Louis L'Amour,
(Bantam, 1966)

I'm not sure why this, out of so many Louis L'Amour novels, wasn't made into a movie.

It's a nearly perfect setup, so far as westerns are concerned. A cavalry division has been wiped out by renegade Indians. Another division, unaware of the massacre, is patroling in the vicinity. A headstrong commander takes the rest of the soldiers out to find and escort the patrol back to their base -- leaving, in the meantime, the base largely unprotected.

A wounded drifter, who has a history with the commander, is left to defend the women and children who were left behind in case the Indians target the fort -- and its rich cache of weapons and ammunition -- instead of attacking the troops.

Meanwhile, a shady trader is plotting to use the Indian attack as a means to rob the incoming payroll. And, of course, there is a young woman, feisty and unattached, at the fort who takes a shine to our hero.

Although it was never filmed, Kilrone is a tense, action-packed book that plays out with Hollywood-like scenes. As a novel, on the other hand, it lacks some of the character development L'Amour is known for. Barnes Kilrone remains something of a mystery; although hints of his past -- including his previous interactions with the commander, the commander's wife and the shady trader -- are peppered throughout the story, they're never fleshed out very thoroughly, which is a weakness in the book.

Even so, I'll take this novel for what it's worth, an enjoyable romp in L'Amour's wild west.

book review by
Tom Knapp

6 August 2016

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new