BULLETS FROM ANOTHER'S GUN
Reviews of Works Not His Own by Tommy Hancock
SADDLES, SIX GUNS, AND SHOOTOUTS
by Charles Boeckman writing as Charles Beckman, Jr.
Published by Boeckman Family Trust, 2013
Cover by Laura Givens
I have always been one of the first to acknowledge the source of not only New Pulp, but my interest in writing tales that qualify as such. If it had not been for the pulp magazines of the early 20th Century and the writers who filled their pages with wonder and fantastic action, then the style which I and so many others live to write in likely would not have developed. To be able to read the stories of Dent, Page, Gibson, Burks, Burroughs, Gardner, and innumerable others is a privilege. So many of the writers from that era, however, have succumbed to time and age and passed on, which makes the book I'm reviewing today special in its own way.
Charles Boeckman, writing as Charles Beckman, Jr., was an extremely prolific writer of Pulp tales in the 1940s and 50s. Known primarily for his suspense and westerns, Boeckman outlasted the death of the Pulps in the 1950s and wrote for various digest magazines, such as Alfred Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen. All of this while living a life akin to a Pulp character all his own, including becoming the leader of his own jazz band.
Last year, Boeckman, with the assistance of his fantastic wife, Patti, produced a collection of his suspense and mystery stories. I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of this and was simply blown away. These tales were tight, two fisted, and rang with as much fire for a reader today as they would have in the time they were originally written. Fortunately, Charles and Patti did not stop with the first collection and have now given us SADDLES, SIX GUNS, AND SHOOTOUTS, a collection of previously published western tales.
This collection features ten stories that cover the Western fiction frontier like a cattle drive down the Chisholm Trail. Lawmen, outlaws, strong women, femme fatales, this book has them all. For the most part, the action in each and every tale is six gun fast, the pacing incredible, and the characters riding at you right off the page. From the harried newspaper man torn between duty and survival to the cowpoke who rides into town with a picture and a dream to the larger than life steamboat captain desperate to take back what was once his, Boeckman's characters populate each story in a way that invokes a cinematic experience.
Another strong point of this collection is Boeckman's skill at description. Bordering on purple just enough to be considered Pulp, he delivers riveting, clear outlinings of the places he sends his characters, from the walls of a drugstore to burning home in New Orleans. Boeckman not only lets you peek into his western world, he opens it up and invites you in.
Of the ten stories, nine were just fantastic in every way. The opener to the book, Brazos Woman, was great in all the ways mentioned above, but seemed to be paced differently, feeling more distinctly like a romance story than the others did. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was a different creature than the others.
SIX OUT OF SIX BULLETS-Even with the opening story being a little off kilter for me from the rest, SADDLES, SIX GUNS, AND SHOOTOUTS is a must have collection for any Pulp or Western fan. The stories are exhilirating and well written and it's also a little bit of history to sit on one's shelf. And my piece of history has an autograph. Too cool.
Get your copy of SADDLES, SIX GUNS, AND SHOOTOUTS at http://tinyurl.com/bpt9nbj