Blue Russell easefully survives comparison with The Sting and True Grit and shimmers with a pleasant density of period detail ""up front"" as the movie producers say about their budgets. But description never trips the fast, tangy story, which leaps from one happy cliffhanger to the next. Blue Russell, a young gunsmith and blacksmith (a village smithy with smarts), thinks he's killed his uncle and lights out for parts unknown. He falls in with a crippled master safecracker, one-eyed Packy Disbrow, and takes up the new art. Some of the novel's finest moments deal with safeblowing lore and the great contest between Blue and the ingeniously unblowable INVINCIBLE model whichseems destined to outlast the human race itself. Blue's skill sharpens from caper to caper until the inevitable climax when he joins his train-robber brother Clay (who is eternally bollixed by THE INVINCIBLE) and they go all out on the maddest robbery of all. The last chapters jell and hold a silent grandeur of anvil-topped thunderheads over the Montana buttes. Melodrama to mentholate your blood.