THE GALLOWS LAND by Bill Pronzini


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Hardscrabble farmer Roy Boone, grieving over the death of young, overworked wife Emma, sells his farm and rides west into 1879 Arizona Territory--where he soon finds danger and love, as mystery-veteran Pronzini applies his lean action-style to Western romance/suspense. Roy, the effectively plain narrator, stops for water at the house of Mrs. Jennifer Todd, a wife-abuse victim. And later, discovering that Mrs. Todd has stolen his gun, Roy returns to the house--to find Mrs. T. a fugitive and a dead man on the premises. Did she shoot her husband? So wonders Roy, as he survives brushes with both a posse and a pair of gun-toting nasties. But when he meets up with her--on the stagecoach to Yuma--Mrs. T. claims that the dead man was a would-be rapist. And then, as they're about to board a Colorado River steamer, one of the nasties resurfaces, abducts Mrs. T., and is shot by Roy, who now learns that Mrs. T. has in fact absconded with the loot from a bank robbery. (Her foul husband was one of the gang.) So, before the happy fadeout, virtuous Roy will deal with the remaining bank-robber, convince Mrs. T. to return the money, and get past his grief for Emma. . . finding love with Mrs. T. Shootouts and sentimentality, with a flinty hero of utter nobility--but the on-the-move period backgrounds are neatly atmospheric; and Pronzini's taut, stripped-down narration is a cut above what you'll find in most Westerns these days.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
ISBN: 1405680296
Publisher: Walker