A skeptic might think the headhunting thing was just a cover artist’s gimmick, but the opening chapters establish that Kildoon is the real deal. By page two of the novel, the reader is treated to a description of the putrid, rotting head hanging from Kildoon’s saddle horn. He rides the trail cognizant of bushwhackers who may seek to swipe the decomposing head in exchange for the bounty.
It takes a couple chapters for a plot to develop, but once it does, it’s a familiar one. A comely young widow inherits a modest ore mine that a rival mine-owner wants to buy for a lowball price. The widow and her Oriental helper are being threatened by thugs to put pressure on her to sell. She hires Kildoon to protect her homestead from her enemy’s henchmen. And that’s the problem.
The range war between two rival landowners was a serviceable western, but nothing you haven’t read before. It was quite different in tone and execution from the opening chapters about a decapitation freak bounty man. I wanted more of the loony hero galloping around the Wild West with a decomposing heads strapped to his saddle.
In the opening chapters, the author writes fantastic scenes of bone-crunching, stomach-turning graphic violence - likely in an attempt to one-up or surpass the Edge series, which predates Kildoon by four years. He falls more into a ho-hum, traditional western rhythm for the rest of the novel with hardly any violent gore or dismemberment.
If you’re looking for the most violent westerns in print, stick with the Edge or Apache series titles. Bounty Man Kildoon showed great promise, but failed to deliver the bloodshed as advertised.
Acknowledgment & Addendum:
Thanks to James Reasoner for his assistance in unmasking Jory Sherman as the likely author of Bounty Man Kildoon. If you’re looking for a great stand-alone western, check out his new one, Texas Bushwhack, available HERE.
There was a sequel to Bounty Man Kildoon called Bounty Man’s Target: Wanted Dead or Alive by Buck Adams, also published by Major Books. Why they didn’t use the same house name as the author of this two-book series is a mystery lost to the ages. Nevertheless, I’ve ordered the paperback. Whether I read it or not is anybody’s guess.