Eighteen short stories from Frederick Faust, who wrote nearly 900 pieces of fiction -- most of them pulp westerns -- under the name of Max Brand (The Black Signal, 1986, etc.) and 20 other pseudonyms between 1917 and his death in 1944. Westerns are well represented here, including Faust's first, ""Above the Law"" (1918), and his best-known, ""Wine on the Desert"" (1936), both of which depict the struggle between good and evil. Faust's skill at other genres is evident in stories like the hard-boiled ""The Silent Witness"" (1938) and the urbane spy tale, ""The Secret Villa"" (1935), which introduced Secret Agent Anthony Hamilton. The first appearance of Dr. Kildare in ""Internes Can't Take Money"" (1936) is a melodramatic story in which the young doctor faces a moral dilemma. Across all genres, Faust based his characters on mythical models. The passages from youth to adulthood and from cowardice to honor involve painful ordeals in ""The Sun Stood Still"" (1934) and ""Honor Bright"" (1948). The classic need of a son to prove himself to his father is expertly portrayed in ""Virginia Creeper"" (1937) and in a stirring WW I combat story, ""Pringle's Luck"" (1940). Faust was devoted to his unreadable poetry, but the strengths of two serious prose efforts, ""The Wedding Guest"" and ""A Special Occasion,"" written for Harper's in 1934, make one wonder what heights his literary career would have reached had he devoted more attention to his prose. In the first, three men are lured by a beautiful entomologist into mirroring the mating dance of the Great Peacock moth; in the second, an alcoholic architect contemplates suicide when he realizes just how low he has sunk. An introduction by William Bloodworth (English/East Carolina Univ.) assesses Faust's place in popular American literature. Not every story is a winner, but this diverse collection proves that the King of the Pulps could spin almost any kind of tale successfully.