Friday, September 04, 2015

FFB: End of the Gun -- H. A.DeRosso

H. A. DeRosso westerns are generally thought of as being a little bit darker in tone than most, and this one's no exception.  However, [SPOILER ALERT] it does have a conventional ending. [END OF ALERT]

The point-of-view character is Britton, who heads up a group of mustangers.  Britton, to put it mildly, has serious anger issues.  His anger often gets the upper hand on him because he seems to find it almost impossible to control.  He and his two-man crew are operating on land close to the large Chain Link ranch, owned by a man named Hepburn, who has a beautiful daughter named Stella.  If I have to tell you that Stella falls for Britton (and vice-versa), then you haven't read many westerns.  In this case, however, it's impossible for me to understand why she does.  He's an ex-con with anger issues.  Personally, I think she's making a mistake.  Hepburn also has a foreman named Rambone, and he dislikes Britton on sight, mainly because he has his own plans for Stella.

DeRosso is good at letting us see the other characters only as Britton sees them, which leads to some interesting developments late in the novel.  There's plenty of action, too, and DeRosso handles that well.  There's also one character who might as well be wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with the words "I Am Going to Die," but I can overlook that.  It's really heavy-handed, though.

All in all, I'd rate this a somewhat above average western, but it's not in the same class as The Gun Trail.  Maybe I'll reprint that review some Friday since it's 10 years old now.


Todd Mason said...

I have read perhaps one DeRosso story over the would you assess him in re Frazee and the other grittier western writers of his time? Did you ever pick up anything useful from him?

Unknown said...

I didn't read anything by DeRosso until six or eight years ago. I like his books, but it's hard to compare him to anybody. The few books I've read have been darker than most other western writers, and this one sure has its darker moments. James Reasoner probably has a better idea than I do since he's a lot better read in the field than I am.