Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trapp's Mountain by Robert J. Randisi (western)

In 1846, mountain man John Henry Trapp's wife and home were deliberately destroyed by fire. Trapp searched high and low and killed the men responsible. But one of the men was the son of a powerful man, and he made sure Trapp served the top sentence of 25 years in prison for his revenge. Finally free again, all Trapp wants is to get back to his mountain.

Now Trapp has to feel his way around the 1871 West as a 64-year-old man who still feels 39 (age doesn't matter in prison) but whom others now derisively call "Grandpa." And he's got only his talent for poker, his skill with his trusty Sharps buffalo rifle, and his new friend Fry to help him along.

As if that weren't enough, there's someone who thinks that prison was not enough punishment for Trapp and wants him dead. But getting between Trapp and his mountain is a dangerous proposition.

Robert J. Randisi is one of my favorite Western writers. In addition to his work on The Gunsmith (probably my favorite of the monthly Western series), he also manages to write some of the more interesting nonseries Westerns due to his modern approach to character and his liberal use of humor along with the expected traditional genre tropes.

In Trapp's Mountain (originally published as Mountain Man's Vengeance under the pseudonym "Robert Lake"), Randisi shows the other side of revenge. Many Western authors would have focused on Trapp's seeking of retribution and called it a day. Randisi does give that part its due through a strategic use of flashback, but he is more interested in how that action colors the rest of Trapp's life.

Trapp just wants to get back to the life he had before, but first he's got to actually make it back to the mountain, and Randisi puts a lot of exciting obstacles in his way. Trapp's Mountain makes great use of Randisi's unadorned prose style. It reads quickly and moves like the best pulp fiction. The only downside is that it ends at the point where a sequel would begin, and there doesn't seem to be one. But Trapp's journey is interesting enough to stand alone.

2 comments:

Tom said...

I read this under it's original issue, "Mountain Man's Vengeance" from Zebra as by Robert Lake. It was a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it. A different take on the Western genre. A long way from being a Dodge city shoot 'em up, or a rustler's rhapsody.

RJR told me he sold it under the title, "Trapp's Mountain," but Zebra changed it, despite his protests.

The Leisure edition is much easier on the eyes to read with a more open type face.

Pick up a copy if you can.

Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books

Craig Clarke said...

Thanks for writing, Tom. I agree completely. I usually like Randisi, but this one was even better than normal.

I liked it so much, in fact, I chose it for my Best of 2009 list.

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