The Bandit Of Hell's Bend by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm going to sound back-ass-ward here, but I have previously tried to read examples of the author's Tarzan stories and his John Carter series. I made it through neither book.
This book however, I found to be quite a page-turner. Much is said, both in academic reviews online and in the introduction/forward to the volumne I read, about Burroughs' first-hand knowledge of frontier life in the American Southwest of the 1880s and 1890s, but this came over as pure glorious pulp.
There's lots of misunderstandings, fiery women, taciturn men, tough hombres and Eastern dandies. There are also some (admittedly) racist portrayals--especially of the Asian cook--though I actually found both the Apache raiders and the Mexican bandit were shown to have quite a good sense of pride and honor (and even the cook was smart and loyal).
I thought the ending happened rather abruptly considering the tight spot the author worked his characters into, but it wasn't enough to diminish my enjoyment of this unexpected treasure!
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