So far, I haven't ran across a book I didn't like and this one, After the Bugles, by Elmer Kelton was no exception. Maybe I just like the western genre no matter how bad the plot or the writing, and to me Bugles stood up well with the competition. There was certainly no bad writing or bad plot in it.
Joshua Buckalew and Ramon Hernandez are returning home after the battle of San Jacinto where Santa Ana was defeated. They must remain vigilant for Mexican raiders, outlaws posing as friends, and Comanche Indians. Josh's wife was a sister of Ramon and she had been killed in a raid by the Comanches and several homes were burned and people routed by Mexican raiders while they were off fighting the war. The two run into friends and enemies, and no matter how well Ramon fought in the war, there were some whites who couldn't and wouldn't get along with any Mexican.
Finally reaching home and finding their homes burned, except Ramon's, Josh and other whites they met along the trail are desperate to get their crops in before summer is too far gone. They all join up to help each other and even build a cabin for Josh, but the Mexicans are still hated by some of the party and attempt to kill Romon after they had stayed at his ranchero to recoup and make plans for the future. Unlucky for them, the Comanches attack and make short work of the two that shot at Ramon. One of them had shot the other sister of Ramon, who was supposedly in love with Josh. She had caused a fight between Josh and Ocie Quitman and Josh barely won the knock down dragout, but will she marry Josh? In the battle with the Comanches the novel reaches the end of the road and everything is resolved in one way or another.
I enjoyed this one, too, but will keep reading and looking for one I can't appreciate as much. But, why? Hell, I don't know. I just like to keep the Western markets in business - an impossible task.
The book pictured is a First Edition by Ballantine Books, price 50 cents, printed in 1967. It looks like it had been sitting in the sun for a while because it was beginning to fall apart. The pages are brownish, fragile, and torn in a few places. I picked it up at an antique shop, not a book store, and luckily all the pages were still in it. It had doubled in price to $1.29 used. The cover came off while reading, so I repaired it with masking tape. Available from Amazon for $6.99 or other choices from $0.01.