Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wild Waymire by Lewis B. Patten (Western novella)

Ernie Waymire's got it rough. He's in love with the wrong girl. His father Matthew hates two things: women and the Hunnicuts. Matthew Waymire and Olaf Hunnicut have been feuding so long that Ernie and his brother Al don't even know why.

And Ernie's fallen for Olaf's daughter Irene. If Matthew finds out -- a man who seems to constantly see red, even where his sons are concerned -- there'll be hell to pay. What's worse is that Irene was put up to the charade by Olaf in a scheme to take over the Waymire ranch.

After one too many beatings from Matthew, Ernie decides to run away with Irene. But things get complicated when Al tells Matthew and Olaf gives Irene and ultimatum. This final betrayal makes Ernie snap, and God help anyone who gets in the way of his revenge.

Author Lewis B. Patten came up through the pulps to make a lengthy career for himself that included 3 Spur Awards and a lifetime achievement award from the Western Writers of America. Wild Waymire originally appeared in 1955 in Triple Western magazine.

Patten doesn't shy away from the darker side of people, giving him a sort of cult following with readers of modern Westerns. Matthew Waymire is one of the more despicable characters of recent memory, yet Patten still endows the reader with sympathy for him, especially when the reason for the feud is revealed.

Wild Waymire is just one black event after another until it is no surprise that Ernie chooses the path he does. Patten makes things even more tragic by suggesting that there is a solution right in front of Ernie's face and he just won't see it. This made for a fascinating read and one that will add Lewis B. Patten to my list of writers to look for.

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