Sunday, September 28, 2014

Trail Drive by Brian Garfield

Trail Drive is part of an Ace Double, the other being Trouble at Gunsight by Louis Trimble, a paperback printed in the 1960's.

Dan Sweet was asked by Ben Gaultt to take a herd of 4,000 cattle to the railroad and he showed up to do just that.  Sweet is a tough, determined, strong-minded cattleman and he said he was the one in charge of the drive and if anyone objected, they could head for the boonies right now. Of course, some of the boys didn't like his overbearing attitude and he would have to iron out the wrinkles to ensure he had total control. And there was the trouble between Ben Gaultt and a man named Nate Ringabaugh, exactly what the trouble was between them Sweet didn't know. Then there were the Apaches that Sweet figured he would have to fight off to protect the cattle, and what about the crooked men that sold whiskey to them?  And what about Harriet Gaultt, who was in love with Ringabaugh? Sweet thought he just might fall for her himself and what was her brother, Russ Gaultt up to, taking off every night?

He had a lot of ironing to do to get things straightened out and the herd to the railroad, including interference by Emmett, young Pete Santell and Owen Mingo, but Hank Flood was on his side and would fight to help him out. All the characters are well drawn and fill out the script nicely. They run into the Apaches as they enter the final drive up the mountain to the railroad and snow begins to fall. If it doesn't stop the cattle will never get through the pass.  

Everything should come out fine in the end, but getting there is not only half the battle, it's all the battle as Sweet struggles to control the men, the cattle, and the Apaches. Oh, yes, and Harriet, too.

A fine novel from Edgar Award winner, Brian Garfield, who has written more than 70 books..