Once upon a time, long, long ago (1958), Knopf published western novels. And they were reviewed in the New York Times, which called Bitter Ground the "best western of the year," according to the blurb on the back of the Bantam paperback edition.
Don't get the idea that Bitter Ground is a "novel of the west" or anything like that. It's a pure powder-burner. A man named Doc and his two cronies ride into San Ygnacio with the idea of taking over the town. The sheriff is Ben Gann, a fast gun, but over the hill, or so Doc believes. The only obstacle to Doc's plan is William Stafford, a young man who's in San Ygnacio to escape from his past, when he was known as "Brazos" and was faster with a gun than anybody. He's hung up his guns, however, and vowed never to strap on a pistol again.
So what do you think? Will Brazos be forced to wear guns again? Will he and Doc have a showdown in the middle of Main Street? You're durned tootin'. This is the good old stuff. Check it out if you ever get the chance.