Thursday, September 5, 2013

Will Henry's Cassidy Novel

I've been reading the Bantam Edition, Reissued Nov 1991, a pocket book of Will Henry's Alias Butch Cassidy story. This Butch Cassidy novel is different than the others I've read in that it concentrates on the young years and the introduction to the outlaw life of the protagonist and gives more detail. The other Cassidy books cover his life in its entirety from birth to death in South America or was it the U.S.?

This one starts with the Parker family's move to Circleville in Central Utah and Butch's introduction to the "famous" outlaw Mike Cassidy. Young George LeRoy Parker is attracted to the old outlaw who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the life of an outlaw, not in practice except for teaching him to shoot a pistol, but through mostly talk. These two finally get around to the action part by planning to rob the bank in Panguitch which goes haywire when they actually are in the process of the robbery. The robbery falls apart when Dan Parker, George LeRoy's younger brother breaks in on it, and all three have to hightail it out of Panguitch empty-handed. And there is further trouble when the law pays a visit to the Parker ranch that night and the ole outlaw plugs one of the deputies and is shot in return in the ribs. Mike hauls out of the ranch on snowy night with that gunshot to the rib area, and when LeRoy finds out from all the blood in the snow and on the ground that he was wounded he takes out after him. Mike shoots and kills another deputy who came upon them in their lair waiting for Mike's wound to heal up enough to ride on.

The two outlaws, the old, grizzled veteran Mike and the young, smart, strong farmboy who is now wanted by the law end up in Robber's Roost, of course. LeRoy is introduced as Mike's nephew, George LeRoy Cassidy, to the owlhoots at the Roost and meets Matt Warner, aka Williard Christiansen already known by George LeRoy as a childhood friend. There's a personality clash between the two and it breaks out at Dandy Crossing where they get into a tussle, creating bad blood.

Young "Kid" Cassidy plays it alone for a few years going straight until he ends up at Telluride and gets hooked into a deal with the McCarty brothers, the well-known bank, train and stage robbers. This deal goes bad, too, and George LeRoy has to leave town with George McCarty, the big, slow-witted brother. They travel to Brown's Hole, the famous robber hangout. Dan Parker, the pesky brother of Cassidy shows up and Cassidy has to tell him a "big one" to get rid of him along with Brother George McCarty while Tom McCarty, Cassidy, Matt Warner, Elzy Lay, and Bob McCarty proceed with the planning for the robbery of the DRG railway in Grand Junction, CO.  So much for going straight.

In my reading of it, I'm only about 30 pages from the end, so I don't know how it ends up. We'll just have to finish it together, and we'll all know.

Will Henry is one of my favorites, and True West says "[he's] a born storyteller, a man strengthened with the uncommon melody of language, a literary outrider using his bent to describe in fiction the West that was." Sold American! My feelings exactly. Henry puts words together like no other in my mind, melding them into a great story, not only this one but all his writings (that I've read) in my estimation. This one is NOT one of those put'er down kind, at least I couldn't stay away from it but for only short periods. It was 217 pages of slam-bang action in the old style, i.e., dialect, made-up words, strong descriptions of acton, etc.


  1. I actually bought this book just a couple of months ago. Haven't read it yet but will

  2. Dane Coolidge has a Butch Cassidy novel, MAN FROM WYOMING, 1935. Butch is not the main character but is portrayed as a likable outlaw.

  3. I haven't read that one, but I'll add it to my list to find. Thanks, Ron.