Saturday, August 17, 2019

Ebook: "The Legend of Caleb York" by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Ebook: The Legend of Caleb York by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, 2015, Wisconsin Digital Library download.

Besides working on adapting a few Mike Hammer films Spillane also did some Hollywood scripting. He was pals with John Wayne and Wayne hired Spillane to develop/write a western for Wayne's production company. The project never got going and Wayne's company went out of business. So, Collins wrote a novelization.

This is a straightforward western with some Hollywood style schmaltz in it. Bad guy Sheriff Gauge is either buying or forcing out the local ranchers. Gauge is a long time crook and gunfighter who forced is way into the Sheriff job when the local Madam recruited the crook to the job. Gauge brought along his gang, made them Deputies, and uses those men to kill locals who get in the way. Gauge himself is a skilled and fast gunfighter. He and the Madam have a thing going and Gauge has made himself a silent partner in most local businesses.

This is not enough for Gauge though. A larger local ranch run by Cullen and his daughter Willa is a hold out. Gauge wants that ranch. Gauge wants that woman. Gauge is patient and plotting but he's also killing his way to success.

Old Man Cullen, blind, proud, and cantankerous, has enough of gauge's foul deeds after one of his ranch hands is shot down by the law for the crime of working for Cullen. Of course Gauge is Sheriff and can use any number of  spurious reasons to justify the killing. Besides, all the locals are too scared to confront or oppose Gauge and the state government says, "He's the Sheriff, what are talking about? Vote him out.".  After the ranch hand's funeral Cullen makes his to the telegraph office and sends a message to an old business partner that the partner should cable famed gunfighter Caleb York and offer $10,000 to get rid of Gauge by any means.

Well, Gauge finds out about the telegram and the ball starts rolling. There is shooting. There is sexy sexy sexing. There is brutal conniving. There is cold blooded killing. There is an oddly chaste romantic longing side-by-side of characters while they perform the sexy sexy sexing with other characters.

In short: a guy comes to town a day or so later and immediately beats up and subsequently shoots down two Deputies. Is he York? Could York get here that fast? If he isn't York then who the hell is he? Will Cullen's plan to drive Cullen under succeed?

Ranching Willa wants more say but she is a woman. The Madam wants more from Gauge than sex and business but Gauge is just using and abusing her. The Stranger keeps getting involved in local business but doesn't really want to.

A quick-ish read. The violence and sex match Spillane's style. Collins doesn't shy from that sex and violence and presents a western that is more '70s than '50s, and more Peckinpah than Ford. There are no cut aways as characters kiss and there is plenty of blood and cruel violence.

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