Giles A. Lutz (1910-1982) was a prolific western contributor that penned 64 novels in his lifetime. Within his robust bibliography, he also utilized the names James B. Chaffin, Wade Everett, Alex Hawk, Hunter Ingram, Reese Sullivan and Gene Thompson. As Brad Curtis he wrote 11 erotic novels for sleaze publishers like Monarch. My first sampling of the author's work is western entry “The Wolfer”. The novel was originally released in 1968 by Tower and then re-printed with different packaging in 1972.
“The Wolfer” is indeed the main character, an inexperienced and hot-headed rancher named Hobart. During a snowy Montana night, Hobart has a disagreement over a woman and becomes entangled in a drunken brawl with an Army captain. After slipping on ice, Hobart is knocked unconscious and awakens to find the captain knifed in the back. Accused of murder, shackles are slapped on and Hobart is sent to death row. Only this is the 1800s and death row is essentially a 24-hour recollection period before execution. The reader knows who really killed the captain, but it's up to Hobart to find the truth.
After escaping jail, Hobart heads into a lonely, barren stretch of wilderness deemed The Breaks. It's a hodge podge of harsh men and women who have escaped society's ills by living in Canada's southwestern region. Hobart, stripped of all assets, seeks solace with a pack of wolf hunters. He learns to hunt for wolf hides while attempting to right the wrongs and clear his name. Despite the tag-line, he is not as merciless as the wolves he hunts.
Even the most barren used book stores will typically have a rather large inventory of old, tattered westerns. It's a big genre filled with countless authors and titles. I'd like to think of “The Wolfer” as just another average western. Lutz isn't cutting edge by any means, offering readers a blunt edge narrative that's just plain dull. While building a story-line around this western rancher, we're immediately turned off by the character's neediness. He requires so much maintenance, from borrowing food, shelter and money to eventually losing fights he altogether should be winning...in most western stories.
Again, this is my first experience with Lutz and I'm sure he is a terrific writer. I have a stack of the author's books in my collection, but based on the small sample size of “The Wolfer” I'm in no rush to read the next one.
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