This is the first book that I have read by Paul Lederer (writing as Owen G.Irons), Prisoner of Gun Hill, and I can't say that it will be my last. This story starts off with a man, Luke Walsh, running away across the desert from Tucson to put some distance between him and the law. He reaches the point where his horse finally dies from the heat and lack of water and Luke is about on his last legs, too. He collapses and is lying on the desert floor thinking about dying when he feels someone trying to pick him up and offer some water. He is loaded into a wagon and wakes up at the place called Gun Hill. How did he get here, he thinks, and remembers why he left Tucson. He had shot a man at the request of his old female friend, Dee Dee Carlson, a local girl who works in a bordello.. The man he killed was supposed to be the outlaw named Virgil Sly, mean and tough, who Dee Dee was trying to get free of she said, but it was Marshal Stoddard that was shot.
He finds himself in a tough predicament, being a prisoner of Boston Sears, Frank Rafferty, Billy Rafferty, Susan Rafferty, and an older woman who we later find out is Boston Sears' mother. Boston turns out to be a member of the Red Butte outfit, Virgil Sly's gang of thieves. They took his revolver and rifle and he doesn't know where they are. All he has to do is get away, but how? They put him to work with Billy from sunup to sunset digging a shaft. It grows uglier as two more outlaws show up and Virgil Sly and Dee Dee appear. A young man called Tick Tock is brought in by wagon having lost his mule on his way to Crater. There are rumors of other men dying or being killed while working in the mine, which was originally the property of Frank Rafferty and Chris Gunn. Gunn ends up dead and leaves a map for his pardner, Frank, to dig another shaft and find the gold vein which had run out.
Luke is falling for the young blonde girl Susan to add to the mess he's in and she returns the favor, he thinks, but Dee Dee has messed that up. Will he make an escape and get away clean or will he join with Billy and Tick Tock and get away and end up with Susan in his arms? And what happens to Dee Dee who owes Luke for setting up the wrong man for death? Which gal will he choose if he gets a chance?
This is what kept me glued to the page, to find out if Luke gets away and how he manages to do it with all the odds against him. A fine story, not too long, but tightly written and keeps the suspense going to the end. I would recommend Prisoner of Gun Hill to anyone who reads Westerns..