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There's no railroad near the sleepy town of Prairieton, nor are there any telegraph lines. What Prairieton does boast, as Paine (The Open Range Men, 1990, etc.) tells us in his enjoyable, old-fashioned western novel, is a fine brick bank. Henry Malden and his cohorts Buff Brady and Boice Candless have a plan. They'll each ride into Prairieton, find employment to support themselves as they learn the routines of the townspeople, rob the bank, and then high-tail it to Edgerton and the railway heading due west to anonymity and freedom. Brady gets a job at the livery barn, Malden works for the local blacksmith, and Candless hires on as a driver for the stagecoach. Each excels at his trade and soon wins the approval of his employer; the misanthropic blacksmith is so taken with Malden's expertise that he even offers to sell out the business to him. But the newcomers have greater goals in mind, and all goes according to plan until Candless is shot, his stagecoach is robbed of the bank's money, and the men are forced to revise their scheme. At long last, with the successful execution of the raid on the bank, and the town marshall searching for them in all the wrong places as the bandits (with their horses shod backwards) escape the town, the plan finally seems destined for success. What the men did not count on was the arrival of Loosely, the shrewd bounty hunter who would soon be hot on their trail. Paine is a fine storyteller, and he recreates the world of the old West with a simple, straightforward style. One does not have to be a devotee of the western genre to find this book a light and satisfying read.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Walker