Louis L'Amour,
Over on the Dry Side
(Bantam, 1975)

We meet Borden Chantry, a cattleman turned marshal, in his own, self-titled book. His son, Tom Chantry, pops up in North to the Rails, and an ancestor or two make appearances in the Sackett novel Ride the River.

The Chantry line continues -- although the lines of relation aren't made clear -- in Over on the Dry Side. Owen Chantry shows up at his brother's remote cabin to find a couple of squatters -- a down-on-their-luck father and son named Kernohan -- living there. His brother, Clive Owen, is dead, they tell him, found murdered on his doorstep.

Now, Owen Chantry doesn't mind the Kernohans moving in and making good use of his brother's house and land. But killing Clive -- a quiet, scholarly, peaceful sort of man -- doesn't sit well with him, and Owen vows to find out who did it.

The obvious leads point to Mac Mowatt and his gang, who believe -- without good cause, really -- that Clive brought Mexican gold across the border and hid it on the ranch. Chantry doesn't think there's a treasure, but he wants justice for his brother and safety for the Kernohans ... and there's a girl, too, who holds his interest.

It's an intriguing game of cat and mouse, as some of Chantry's foes play by the "rules" of engagement while others act only in the interests of greed and personal gain. It's another strong yarn from L'Amour's troubled West, where bold men with guns were the only line in the sand separating good people from lawlessness.

book review by
Tom Knapp

16 September 2017

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