Louis L'Amour,
(Bantam, 1958)

Usually, when a beautiful woman turns up in a Louis L'Amour novel, she's about to fall in love with the protagonist -- or, if not, it's a foregone conclusion by the end of the book. That's not the case in Radigan; when Angelina Foley appears, she's leading a band of gun-fighting cowpokes and a herd of 3,000 cattle, all aiming to drive Tom Radigan off his New Mexico ranch so they can have it for themselves.

Radigan, of course, is your typical L'Amour hero, which means he's not that easy to move.

The book is a game of cat and mouse, as Radigan and his half-breed hand, John Childs, maneuver to stop Foley and her crew from taking the land. Winter -- far harsher than Foley expected to find in New Mexico -- also plays a role, as Radigan knows the land and its foibles far better than she.

Oh, and then the second girl shows up.

L'Amour often injects a lot of wry humor into his prose. In this case, for instance, Radigan forces a band of bad guys to enjoy an impromptu tea party. His banter, too, with a barkeep who sells less-than-stellar whisky to his customers is a treat. But there's plenty of hard-hitting, fast-shooting action, too, and there will be blood on the New Mexico snow before Radigan is through.

book review by
Tom Knapp

28 January 2017

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