Louis L'Amour,
Silver Canyon
(Bantam, 1957)

Matt Brennan is just drifting through Hattan's Point when he sees a girl and decides to stay. That decision, however, puts him right in the middle of a range war, and the two big landowners in the area -- Maclaren and Pinder -- both want him on their side.

But Brennan decides instead to throw in with Ball, an old man who is fighting alone to keep his land. And that means every man is against him, including the enigmatic Morgan Park, who has already beaten Brennan to a pulp over the girl -- who is, if Brennan's life isn't complicated enough, Maclaren's daughter.

When Brennan finds Ball shot full of holes and near death, the old man leaves the ranch to Brennan -- in front of witnesses -- placing Brennan, who refuses to sell, right in the crosshairs of men who've proven they have no compunction about killing to achieve their aims.

Silver Canyon is a story about guns a-blazin', but there's an element of mystery, too. Why does everyone want this particular piece of land so badly? Is there more to it than the water that flows there?

Louis L'Amour lets the story unfold at a steady pace. Of course you know who's going to win -- L'Amour is pretty unenigmatic when it comes to stories of black and white, good and bad -- but getting there is, as always, a fun ride.

book review by
Tom Knapp

7 January 2017

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