Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Whiskey Smith #05: Rampage in Whiskey Smith

Eric Allen (Eric Allen-Ballard) wrote a number of westerns including a five book series entitled 'Whiskey Smith'. Some of the books list the author as Gene Tuttle, but this could have been a pseudonym used by Allen as he also wrote under the name Jonathan Busby. These 'Whiskey Smith' books were all released as part of the Ace western line between 1968 and 1979. Are they worth a wooden nickel? Based on my experience of “Rampage in Whiskey Smith”...absolutely not.

Whiskey Smith is a powder keg town sitting between westward Cherokee Nation and Arkansas. The general consensus is that anyone wanting to commit acts of atrocity can jump over to the opposite territory when fingers are pointed. Criminals, land barons, Indian killers and back shooters gravitate to Whiskey Smith like moths to a flame. US Marshals keep tabs on their side of the fence, hanging and jailing most of the hardmen. The Cherokee council keeps tight reins on their own territory, delving out regulation duties to guys like Breen Drager.

Drager is the chief protagonist, a dull character that is a half-breed. He's serving the Cherokee Nation as a property manager, carving out plots of land and providing it to settlers, farmers, ranchers and “good white folk”. The narrative explores Drager's feud with former best friend Hawk Folsom, an equally dull character that made a smooch and grab on Drager's fiance. Drager breaks off the friendship and evicts Folsom from his rental of Cherokee land. Folsom teams with another dull and lifeless character named Tucker Bowden, and the two harass and disrupt Drager's everyday routine. There's another love interest thrown in for Drager, but by that point no one cares. I hated this book and found myself lacking sympathy for the dying as I routinely checked page numbers every two-minutes. 

Avoid at all costs. This is the poster child of "play it safe" fiction.