DEVIL AT THE REINS by Henry Sharp

DEVIL AT THE REINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rope Watson has been riding with the devil as long as he can remember, even during the Civil War when he nearly lost a leg to gangrene. His whole body today, in 1880, is coated with scars, gashes, and bullet holes. So it's hard for him to believe his ears when lecherous dandy Billy Scripture (who has just raped an Indian squaw) says that a certain committee headed by a Colonel Starlock wants to hire Rope to clean out Primrose Flats--the Sodom and Gomorrah of the West, a whorehouse-filled gamblers' paradise (whose future name will be Las Vegas) run by Tarquine, a despot with Roman manias who keeps himself surrounded by a frock-coated corps of ""Deacons"" and a pale young man whom he likes to beat and dress in powderblue duds. Rope's clean-up assault is aided by a kid named Elton and a whore named Kelly, who manage to survive the great fire Rope finally brings down on Primrose Flats after he has sabotaged the town's great pump engine. And once he has disentangled himself from emotional commitments, he rides out of town on Billy Scripture's fine Arabian horse, with $5,000 in his pocket and dressed in Billy's fancy duds--a set-up for an ironic fade-out. Energetic plotting, but clich≤ characters and effortful prose--a Western for undemanding genre-lovers only.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1979
Publisher: Macmillan