Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Killer Grizzly (The Gunsmith #24) by Robert J. Randisi writing as J.R. Roberts (Western series)

When a wheel on his rig breaks, Clint Adams — a.k.a. The Gunsmith, an ex-lawman with a well-known reputation — is stranded in the town of Bear Pass, Wyoming, while it is fixed. Adams laments being stuck, but before long a Killer Grizzly known as "Ol' Three-Paw" appears and destroys his horse team, making things immediately more interesting.

A reward is soon offered by Calvin Lockman, the local bigwig, for the death (with proof) of the giant grizzly bear — Ol' Three-Paw seems to like eating Lockman's cows. So the Gunsmith is on the hunt — despite the protestations of hotel mistress Dorian Ward, who says Ol' Three-Paw killed her husband and followed her here from Montana. Though it is thought that the money will bring all the amateurs out of the woodwork, Adams's only competition is Lacy Blake, a beautiful bounty hunter who heard about the reward. Will they compete against each other or decide to join forces?

One trait about the Gunsmith series that invariably brings a smile is how the author's business sense comes out. After referring to characters or events in past storylines, Randisi includes a footnote naming the other volume in which it appeared. For example, in Killer Grizzly, Adams thinks the Parker-Hale game rifle would be best to use on Ol' Three-Paw since it was so effective in taking down Big Foot (in book #21, Sasquatch Hunt). (A poker game also reminds him of the events in book #13, Draw to an Inside Death. I think you get the idea.) This is probably the best way I've seen yet to get a reader to buy other books in a series.

Killer Grizzly and its brethren are perfect back-pocket reads. The stories are fast-paced and told simply, and the short chapters make them easy to dip into at any free moment. Most appealing, however, is how Roberts / Randisi offers a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor along with the sex and violence expected in "The All-Action Western Series." He doesn't take himself too seriously (he had his hero hunting down Big Foot, for Pete's sake!), making for an all-around pleasurable reading experience.


David Cranmer said...

Randisi kicks some serious ass in THE LAWMAN and DOUBLE THE BOUNTY that I've just finished. And that tongue in cheek style you mentioned coupled with brisk storytelling makes for a fine read. I will add KILLER GRIZZLY to my TBR list. Thanks for the review.

Craig Clarke said...

Those Bounty Hunter books sound really appealing. Thanks for the recommendation.

Steve M said...

Read this one some years back, thanks for the memories.

I always liked the footnotes referring to previous books - these appeared in many of the English PC westerns too - and sure made me want to get the earlier books. Sadly these notes have long since bitten the dust.

Craig Clarke said...

That's too bad about the footnotes, but I guess after 300+ books, a fellow'd be hard-pressed to remember (or want to take the time to look up) who showed up in which book.

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