THE BANDIT OF HELL’S BEND BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Copyright 1925

Elias Henders is the owner of a prosperous ranch and gold mine in 1880’s Arizona. One day an Apache attack kills him and leaves his nineteen year old daughter Diana in charge. The will that was written was between Elias and his brother. It stated that the surviving brother would inherit everything. Shortly after Elias dies so does his brother out east. His daughter comes out with some unscrupulous eastern businessmen and claims that the ranch and mine are legally her. They also attempt to frame Diana’s friend Bull as the bandit of Hell’s Bend. The bandit has been robbing stagecoaches.Luckily Bull is able to find papers that prove that Diana is the rightful heir and the two eventually get marries.

This was Burroughs first western. It is an interesting story in that the characters are colorful and comic. An introduction by Robert Moseberger an English professor goes on that Burroughs was someone actually qualified to write about the west. He served in the cavalry in the 1890’s and later worked on his brothers ranch in Idaho. He based many of the characters on actual people that he knew. The book has an authentic feel about the old west. An interesting book that I would recommend.

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THE ZONE #9 BODY COUNT BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1990.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are on leave in Munich. Munich is just on the edge of the Zone and is a major armaments production center for the war effort. On the night they are getting ready to go back on assignment a Soviet transport breaks through the air defenses. It drops two hundred highly trained Spetsnaz commandos into the city. Their job is to cause massive disruption to the city and cripple the war effort.

Revell and his SCC are the only available men to fight them. They must go from one hot spot in the city to another. They find themselves fighting among innocent civilians. Mistakes are made and innocents die, property destroyed. The SCC not only battle the Spetsnaz but their own leadership. Revell in disgust at the end decides to desert and take his men into the Zone to fight his own way.

I love the Bavarians. World War III is going on and they still find time for their Oktoberfest. Well this is the last of the Zone books published. The series lasted for ten years and actually outlasted the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union would follow a year later so world events were making this series obsolete. I have heard of a tenth book called Death March. Wikipedia lists it as coming out in 2007 but only as a pdf from an Australian company. Amazon does list the nine books available as either print or kindle. It also sounds that Death March doesn’t continue from Body Count since many characters that died in past books are in it. Hopefully some day I might get the chance to read Death March.

The series was your typical Zebra Men’s Adventure book series. Lots of action and sex designed to appeal to young teens and twentysomethings. Now the whole setup of a prolonged engagement in Western Europe for over three years is neither politically or economically feasible. The Soviets were little more than cardboard cutout villains and the plots were wildly improbable.

Still as a young teenager I really enjoyed the books. They were fast paced and populated with a wide variety of larger than life characters. After all these years I still found it enjoyable and it brought back some great memories. I find it appropriate how it ended. I can see these goofy characters continuing their never ending war in the Zone. So I bid adieu to Major Revell, Sgt. Hyde, Psycho Andrea, Obnoxious Dooley, Hillbilly Ripper and Goldbricking Burke. They fade into the mists of history and my childhood.

THE GIRL FROM FARRIS’S BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Maggie Lynch is caught by police officer Doarty as she is climbing down a fire escape from Farris place. Abe Farris runs a notorious brothel and Doarty is not getting the kickbacks that he thinks he deserves. So he uses Maggie as a pawn in his dispute. Maggie decides that she has had enough with the sleazy red light district and sets out to find a more respectable life.

She finds out that the business world is full of greed and deceit even more than the streets she left behind. She finds a job as a secretary to Odgen Secor a respectable businessman. One night he is hit over the head in a robbery. While incapacitated his business partner runs the company into the ground. He finds himself friendless and starts over in Idaho where he strikes it rich in finding gold.

Maggie now using her real name June Lathrop is arrested for the murder of his father John Secor. Luckily an amateur detective finds the real murderer.

This book was written in 1913 and is one of his realistic books. If my summary is a bit confusing that is because this book was confusing to me. It starts off good but in the second half he sort of crams everything together and it becomes a jumbled mess. It is supposed to be social commentary on the corruption of Chicago. I think that it does portray an accurate picture of the society at that time and the slang is very authentic. It still doesn’t make up for the dull and confusing plot. This is one of my least favorite Burrough’s books.

So unless your a Burrough’s completest I would skip this book.

APACHE DEVIL BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Copyright 1964 published after author’s death.

The continuing story of Shoz-Djiji the adopted white son of Geronimo. Shoz had just defeated his enemy Juh after he killed his love Ish-kay-nay. The story finds the Apache tribe lead by Geronimo in a tough situation. They have been driven out of Mexico and are now surrounded by the US cavalry. With no other choice Geronimo must surrender his people. The Apache are disarmed and sent to live on a reservation in Oklahoma. Shoz-Dijiji refuses to surrender and instead goes off on his own.

He will though honor the spirit of the treaty and plunder and kill the whites no more. He befriends a white woman named Wichita Billings. Evil white men kidnap Wichita and Shoz-Dijiji must take up arms for the last time on a blood soaked trail of revenge.

The ending of the saga of Shoz-Dijiji and the Apache. The Apache were the last tribe to surrender. This is another good story about the Apache and their sad ending. I think these two books are great in telling the history and culture of the Apache. It is also a good action packed western.

THE WAR CHIEF BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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A man and his Cherokee wife are traveling through New Mexico when they are attacked by none other than Geronimo. The couples infant son is adopted by Geronimo and raised as an Apache. The son at the age of ten kills a black bear and earns his name Shoz-Dijiji which means black bear in Apache. Shoz-Dijiji grows into a powerful warrior and war chief of the Apache. He raids and fight not only Mexicans and white settlers but must contend with Juh a fellow Apache who hates Shoz-Dijiji. They both are competing for the affections of Ish-kay-nay.

This is a book that was a pleasant surprise. It has a fascinating story that tells about the culture and history of the Apache. The author is clearly sympathetic to them. The Apache are portrayed as a proud people that a harsh land has made to be a harsh people. Burrough’s did serve in the cavalry briefly in the southwest. He clearly developed an admiration for them and the history and culture seem to be quite genuine.

THE ZONE #8 CIVILIAN SLAUGHTER BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1989.
A shaky truce has been called in the Zone. Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are not in favor with the higher ups and assigned mundane guard duty. Their prisoners are from the worst of the Russian POWS, criminals, murders and such. Stripped of there heavy armor and equipment they must supervise these prisoners in rebuilding roads in a quiet sector of the Zone.

They settle in for the mundane duty but soon make a gruesome discovery. Over two thousand refugees are found buried, victims of a massacre. Revell’s reports lead to a high ranking general visiting with orders to keep silent. The bodies are disposed of and all trace of their existence covered up. The politicians do not want to upset the truce so they cover up the incident. If Revell continues to press the issue he is threatened with court martial and the disbandment of his men.

The massacre was done by the KGB Disciplinary Battalion 717 nicknamed ‘Beria’s sons’. A unit composed of the dregs of the KGB. It is run by a Colonel Tarkovski the most depraved human that ever lived. Tarkovski launches a raid that kills several of the SCC. Later the SCC finds another hundred victims of the KGB, all of them little children.

Revell and his men have had enough. They decide to administer their own brand of justice and to hell with the consequences.

The eighth book in the series is a sort of leisurely read. Not a lot of action it mostly deals with the indifference and cynicism of politicians. Something that there is no shortage of in the real world. You get a feeling of the futility of the war they are waging and that it seems to have no end.

The company gains some new characters.
Sampson the medic who dedicates his free time in helping the refugees.
Garett the practical joker and clown
Ackerman a first rate scrounger
The losses
Thorne dies in the beginning when they attack a convoy.
Clarence the sniper that was one of the original crew. He make his goal of killing 100 communist for each of his family that was killed. Decides he has had enough and eats a bullet. A very disturbed man who anyone could see was destined to kill himself.

THE DEPUTY SHERIFF OF COMMANCHE COUNTY BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Copyright 1940

Ole Gunderstrom has been shot. The circumstantial evidence points to Buck Mason as the murder. Buck and Ole had an argument over a fence between their property. Since Buck the deputy sheriff disappeared right after the murder everyone thinks that he is guilty.

Buck knows he is innocent and has opted to go undercover. Adopting the persona of Bruce Marvel a wealthy eastern tenderfoot he checks into the TF dude ranch. The owner Cory Blaine is running a cattle rustling. Buck acts the perfect clueless easterner but there are instances that betray his knowledge of the west. Skillful detective work results in the capture of the real murderer.

This is a interesting book that has well thought out characters and consistent action. Burroughs lived and worked on ranches in Idaho and Arizona so there is a feeling of authenticity in the stories. It is set in modern times i.e. 1940 but has the feel of a western. One of four westerns that he wrote and this one is my favorite.