Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mister St. John by Loren D. Estleman

A crusty old man is hired by Pinkerton to round up the Buckner gang, who have been robbing banks and trains instead of doing honest work. This crusty old man, Irons St. John, was a famous lawman in the Oklahoma Indian Territory who for years had been rounding up the bad hombres and putting them before Judge Parker to receive justice. Mister St. John quit being a Peace Officer and ran for Congress and got trounced by his opponent. Enter the Pinkerton Agent Rawlings, who offered him the job of going after the Buckner gang for $20,000 and expenses.

St. John decides to take on the job and sets out hiring a couple of crusty old men, not necessarily friends, George American Horse, who was a Crow Indian, and Bill Edwards, a sharpshooter who was beginning to lose his eyesight and wore glasses now. These two men wee working in a Wild West Show when St. John contacted them. And then their was the Preacher that St. John thought he needed because of his pistol work, Midian Pierce, called Testament, who read the Bible most of the time and molested young girls when he thought he could get away with it. He was a blood-thirsty killer. St. John hired the Menendez brothers to go along on the ride. They were neither brothers or named Menendez, but cross-border thieves and killers.

A crusty and dirty bunch of lawmen, it was, that went looking for the Buckners, Merle, the cousin of Race, the other Buckner and outlaw, thievin' train and bank robber. And long with them was the crusty Killer and Thief, Jim Shirley, who fought in the war with Cuba and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that lost both his hands. He buys an Indian woman, Woman Walking, who helps him recover from his loss of hands, and they devise a way for Shirley to shoot a gun with straps and a trigger device. He becomes well versed in the use of his pistol and becomes a permanent member of the gang along with the Indian.

The hunt is on and goes to Colorado to Wyoming and further down the road. St. John's men almost catch 'em, but they manage to get away again. And that's the way it goes down to the very last page with shoot-outs and long horseback rides in the snow and cold until it finally comes to an end, sort of.  There is a back story on almost everyone that's just as exciting and thrilling as the story going on with people getting killed and shot up and all.

A hard and hearty novel by Loren D. Estleman that keeps you going to the end to find out what's what and who wins out. This was Mr Estleman's seventh western of the many he has written. This edition was published by Fawcett Gold Medal in January 1985.       


  1. I have a copy of this near the top of my TBR pile. Estleman has the gift. I look forward to reading this one.

    1. I think you'll enjoy the nitty-gritty writing.

  2. I like his stuff. Haven't read this one.