The first volume of an emerging trilogy tracing the adventures of Sam Flint, intrepid frontier newspaperman. Lured by a civic committee headed by the city's chief entrepreneur, Judge Cutlip, to the frontier hamlet of Payday, Arizona, Flint is enticed to stay on by what is described throughout as an Edenic setting—a place offering perfect climate, good land, and honest people. The townsfolk hope Flint's newspaper, The Payday Pioneer, will entice more settlers to come, ensuring a prosperous future. Though doubtful, the young editor sets to work and succeeds beyond anyone's expectations. But complications soon arise as established cattlemen resist the encroachment of sheepmen and farmers on the previously open range. Things get even more complex when the attractive young wife of a missing rancher captures Flint's heart. Moreover, his dedication to editorial integrity soon gains him the ire not only of the profit-minded merchants but also of the county's most powerful rancher. All conflicts are set aside, however, when Flint's efforts begin to attract a nefarious element and the town fills with thugs, hired gunmen, and even an evil madam, Odie Racine, who's bent on extortion. Racine's malevolence forces Payday's citizens to join forces with the crusading editor, putting aside personal concerns as they fight to save their town. Though his characters never rise off the page, and the action is somewhere on a par with 1950s TV horse operas, Wheeler (Sierra, 1996, etc.) uses rather than merely displays his knowledge of the period, its details, and its attitudes. The Flint series will be a welcome addition to the reading lists of younger western fans, and a happy find for all those who prefer more traditional forms of the genre.
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