Lost Ecstasy shows the Old West’s ugly underside

  Mary Roberts Rinehart’s Lost Ecstasy turns the romance of the Old West on its head. Handsome cowboy Tom McNeil can ride, rope, and sing baritone. Lost Ecstasy by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Doran, 1927. 372 pp. 1927 bestseller # 6. My Grade: B-. His only flaws — binge drinking, womanizing, and using paper napkins— aren’t […]

Nan of Music Mountain gets her gunman

Set in a railroad town “almost within gunshot of the great continental divide,” Nan of Music Mountain is all action. At every juncture where he could have produced something other than a formula piece, author Frank H. Spearman backs out. Nan of Music Mountain by Frank H. Spearman N. C. Wyeth, Illus. Gross & Dunlap, […]

When a Man’s a Man the unexpected happens

When a Man’s a Man opens in sermonizing style. Fortunately, ex-preacher Harold Bell Wright soon climbs down from his pulpit, the better to tell what his characters are up to. Early in the 1900s, a stranger walks onto the Cross-Triangle Ranch near Prescott, Arizona, seeking work. The greenhorn, who gives “Honorable Patches” as a name, […]

The Lone Star Ranger is too good for its ending

In his father’s day, a gun-fighter worried only about better gunfighters. Since then the Rangers have been organized to bring law and order to Texas. Buck Duane will be the last of his gun-fighting family. The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Gray Project Gutenberg eBook #1027. 1915 bestseller #9. My grade: B-. After killing a […]

Call of the Canyon Fails at Last Minute

The Call of the Canyon starts out looking the standard western romance. Then Zane Grey gets caught up in the lives of his characters. Instead of finding romance, the novel’s leading lady finds herself. Thunderation. Carley Burch, 26, a young woman of Jazz Age Manhattan is engaged to Glenn Kilborne. Gassed and shell-shocked in France, […]

The Wanderer of the Wasteland a Thoughtful Thriller

Zane Grey fans expecting an upright hero fighting bad guys may be disappointed by The Wanderer of the Wasteland. This is a harsh, relentless story about a young man growing prematurely old wandering the American desert in a vain attempt to escape  his guilty past. Readers willing to take the novel on its own terms […]

The Mine with the Iron Door Isn’t Played Out Yet

“Love ain’t no big deposit that a feller is allus hopin’ to find but mostly never does. Love is just a medium high-grade ore that you got to dig for.” Harold Bell Wright’s The Mine with the Iron Door is an easy-reading western with a faint whiff of ideas clinging to it. The story ‘s […]