Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Buffalo Hunter #02 - Four Ugly Guns

Ralph Hayes ('The Hunter', 'Stoner'), has an unknown number of these 'Buffalo Hunter' books. As I alluded to in my review for the first book, “Gunslammer”, this series' is mired in controversy. The numbers on the front cover aren't necessarily the chronological order they were written. For example, this book's page 43 states O'Brien had never been locked up before. This defies the whole plot of the publisher stamping #1 on “Hellhole”, which has O'Brien locked away in a brutal prison. This is illogical and irritating to my completest psyche. The only solution is the fact that continuity has no bearing on any of these stories. Hayes, in a letter from February of 2018, provided me a chronological order of his westerns and this would be the second book, sandwiched between "Gunslammer" and "The Name's O'Brien".

“Four Ugly Guns” fires away with O'Brien avenging the murder of Ethian Tobias. In the opening pages, O'Brien discovers Tobias and his family rotting in a cabin, and has a lead on four very ugly killers. It's a simple plot, with Hayes letting us tag along for the 'ole “kill the killers” shtick. The reader's investment is trailing the four, and watching the political intrigue unfold. A despicable villain we love to hate, The Kidd, is running a bank robbing scheme with the mayor while possessing the town. The foursome kill, rape and slosh the joy juice, seemingly waiting for O'Brien to arrive.

What I find so entertaining about this series is the legitimacy of the hero. O'Brien, while husky and good with a gun, isn't invincible. He is careless, and narrowly escapes death by sheer luck. This book finds him jailed, aggressively beaten by vigilantes and horseless in the desert. He finds a way to survive, but often he needs assistance from store clerks, doctors, a rehabilitated criminal or some divine deity. While believable in a sense, the action sequences are over-the-top. Hayes over utilizes O'Brien's girth often, but by that point we hate the villain so much that we are complacent with the physical advantages. 

Overall, another brilliant piece of western fiction by an author that continues to impress me. These books are becoming very difficult to find even using online retailers like Abebooks. I paid nearly $10 for this one - battered, broken and abused. 

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