Friday, August 26, 2005

The Action at Redstone Creek -- Merle Constiner

I'd never read any books by Merle Constiner, an author about whom Richard Moore has recently become enthusiastic. So enthusiastic, in fact, that he bought two copies of The Action at Redstone Creek in his frenzy to get as many books by Constiner as he could. He didn't really want two copies of the same book, however, so he brought one of them to ConMisterio in Austin back in July and gave it to me. He told me to read it or he'd kick my butt. Being a frail old retired English teacher, I said I'd do whatever he said.

And the book turned out to be pretty darned good. It's got a couple of problems, but it moves fast, has some good humorous moments, and gets the job done.

It's the old story about a drifter who gets into the middle of a range war, but it's handled differently than any story of its type that I've read. The local sheriff is a great character and adds a lot to the book, and Constiner seems to know what he's writing about when he discusses tracking and cattle. He also handles the violence (of which there's plenty) well. Nothing is drawn out. It's just fast, dirty, and done with. This seems to have been intended as the first book in a series. I guess I'll have to ask Richard if there was ever a sequel, since I'd like to read it. And I'll probably be reading other books by Constiner as well.


James Reasoner said...

Have you read any of Constiner's pulp mystery stories about Luther McGavock (which appeared in BLACK MASK) or the Dean (which appeared in DIME DETECTIVE)? Great stuff. I've enjoyed all of his Westerns that I've read, too. What's on the other side of that Ace Double? I don't have that one.

Unknown said...

The flip side is A Time to Shoot it Out aka The Renegades by Edwin Booth. I haven't read it. And I haven't read anything else by Constiner, either. Now I'll have to.

Anonymous said...

Constiner also wrote a Phoenix Press classic called HEARSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR. He wrote with flare.

George Kelley

Juri said...

The favourite Constiner of Bill Pronzini's and mine is "Short-Trigger Man" (Ace -64). "Guns at Cross Q" (-65) is also good.

Anonymous said...

"The Action at Redstone Creek" was not the first of a series. Although several of his western characters seemed ready made for a series, I believe all his novels are one-shots.

As James noted, he did some fine pulp mysteries. He also did several excellent "historicals" in the adventure pulps and later as YA novels.