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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Westerns
In the last two years, the western has been reinventing itself in multiple forms, two of which—steampunk and cowboy romance—are represented on this top 10 list, bellying up to the saloon bar with a fine assortment of traditional westerns, some reissues, some originals.
Ambush Creek. By Phil Dunlap. 2010. Avalon, $23.95 (9780803477803).
U.S. Marshal Piedmont Kelly comes to the aid of a beleaguered sheriff in Cochise County, Arizona, when a gang of bounty hunters ride into town “carrying enough lethal hardware for a small army.” A well-told western from the High Noon school.
Bohemian Girl. By Teresa Svoboda. 2011. Univ. of Nebraska/Bison, paper, $14.95 (9780803226821).
In this tale of a young woman, sold to the Pawnee as a child, who escapes and forges a life for herself in the West, Svoboda offers a vivid and engrossing tale of the American frontier.
City of Rocks. By Michael Zimmer. 2012. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432825577).
Joseph Roper was a mere teenager when he found himself going up against the dreaded McCandles gang. Six decades later, he shares the bittersweet memory of a time when he and the country were raw and full of hope. A stirring tale.
A Congregation of Jackals. By Craig S. Zahler. 2010. Leisure, paper, $6.99 (9780843964158).
Zahler’s uncommonly powerful noir western blends a little High Noon with a little Magnificent Seven but manages to turn our expectations on their heads by throwing both white and black hats into the Montana wind and turning them all to dusty gray.
The Counterfeit Bride. By Nancy J. Parra. 2011. Avalon, $23.95 (9780803476622).
Lillian Picken is making her way in the Wild West as an independent store owner, complete with a long-distance imaginary husband to keep the menfolk at bay. Then a feller arrives claiming to be her husband. A nice mix of western and romance.
Doc. By Mary Doria Russell. 2011. Random, $26 (9781400068043).
Russell creatively reimagines Doc Holliday’s early years in this authentically detailed, evocatively rendered fictional biography. Crystalline characterization and crackling dialogue elevate this novel far above much western mythmaking.
The Doctor and the Kid. By Mike Resnick. 2011. Pyr, paper, $17.95 (9781616145378).
Veteran sf-fantasy author Resnick offers an enticing alternate-history western starring the consumptive dentist and reluctant shootist Doc Holliday. A mad and thoroughly entertaining mixture of steampunk and magic.
Outlaws of the Brasada. By Les Savage. 2012. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432825584).
Emery Bandine, a weary Confederate veteran, struggles with a rundown ranch and two small children. This fine western, originally published in 1952, mixes visceral scenes of cornering wild bulls with romance. Reminiscent of the work of Will Henry and Alan LeMay.
South by Southwest. By Johnny D. Boggs. 2011. Five Star, $25.95 (9781594149054).
A teenage soldier in the waning days of the Civil War escapes a Confederate stockade and sets out to find and kill a Union officer turned traitor. This intense and suspenseful story of personal redemption is one of genre veteran Boggs’ best westerns.
Travis. By T. T. Flynn. 2011. Five Star, $25.95 (9781432825256).
Originally published in 1958 as The Man from Nowhere, this unusual western concerns a man who finds that his identity has been stolen. A fascinating twist on that staple western theme—the revenge story.
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