Tuesday, February 6, 2018

White Squaw #02 - Boomtown Bust

Of all the series released during the golden age of action/adventure paperbacks, 'White Squaw' is one of the most sordid. It's written by Mark K. Roberts as house name E.J. Hunter. The premise is that a young woman roams the Old West on a mission of vengeance against the outlaw gang that had traded her to the Sioux as a teen. There she was treated as a slave before being assigned to a disgusting and sexually demanding old man as his bride. 

That’s just for starters. Plenty of unsavory things happen in the debut novel, “Sioux Wildfire”, but the follow-up is simply jaw-dropping. In “Boomtown Bust”, that outlaw gang takes over a Colorado town, subduing the locals with a great deal of brutality. Our heroine, Rebecca, rides in and kills several of the owlhoots before she’s captured and forced into prostitution and opium addiction in the local brothel. She’s also raped by the sadistic whip-wielding lesbian madam, who forces herself upon a 12-year-old girl as well.

Ultimately, of course, Rebecca escapes and brings about some six-gun justice with the help of the outraged citizenry. Not all of the guilty will pay for what they’ve done, but with a couple dozen novels in this series, there will be plenty of time for that later. The most interesting of the outlaws (a 300-pound degenerate toilet seat-sniffing child molester carried over from the first book) does get his due, in an excellent confrontation scene. 

There’s nothing wrong with pulp fiction being lurid, but there’s a difference between stuff that’s loopy and exciting, versus stuff that’s just cruel and depressing. We mostly get the latter in “Boomtown Bust”, including a description of a child being raped and murdered which runs for a full page, dropped inexplicably into the middle of the novel’s action climax. 

Frequent sex scenes (of the consenting adults variety) are a counterpoint to all this. The younger the reader, the more titillating these will be, I guess. But they’re not very steamy, and they’re loaded with purple prose euphemisms that are more amusing than arousing: a “long, thick pole of flesh,” Rebecca’s “warm cave of pungent nectar,” a “surging love dagger,” her “burning cavern,” etc.

No, it isn’t exactly Zane Grey. You know from glancing at any of the covers that the 'White Squaw' books are lightweight and trashy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just prefer my lurid trash to be fun, with dramatic tension, suspense and memorable characters. I didn’t really get that from “Boomtown Bust”, but I did keep turning those pages.