Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Lone Deputy by Wayne D. Overholser, 1991

It’s Friday and time for another Forgotten Books edition at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase.

Price Regan stood alone, as terribly alone as a man could be, but that was the cost of being a lawman.

My copy of the book
The story of The Lone Deputy by the late American western author Wayne D. Overholser reminded me of the stories I used to read in pocket-sized cowboy comics, known as Cowboy Western Comics or Western Picture Library. I still have a few of the latter, with colour art work on the covers and black-and-white illustrations inside.

Typically, you have Marshal Price Regan maintaining law and order in a small town called Saddle Rock, Colorado, and doing a good job of it too. His problems, however, don’t lie within the town, which is eyeing its own county, as much as they do with the three neighbouring ranches—Rocking C owned by Cole Weston, Broken Ring belonging to the Mohawk brothers, and Bridlebit run by family man Red Sanders. Their spreads are located on either side of the Yellow Cat Creek which empties into Elk River.

The biggest spread of them all is Weston’s Rocking C that stretches for miles to the south, on the other side of the river. Being the first cattleman to occupy the vast land near Saddle Rock, Weston also behaves like he is the law of the land.

The three ranch owners, in cahoots with politically inclined banker Barry Madden, are bent on running poverty-stricken settlers out of Yellow Cat, particularly the very crooked and ugly faced Walt Cronin who is accused of stealing their cattle. Cronin manages a store and saloon that caters to the harmless settlers who are mostly into farming. 

Weston, who has gunslingers protecting his back round the clock, is the de facto ring leader and the most evil of the lot, though the Mohawk brothers, Tom and Joe, offer him stiff competition. Weston and Madden “order” Regan to get rid of Cronin and the other nesters and rustlers failing which they would settle the matter their way. And they do just that, as Regan refuses to do their bidding until he has strong evidence against Cronin and the others.

The Lone Deputy is the frontier story of a lone man who must fight a lone battle against the wealthy and powerful ranchers. All Price Regan has on his side are his badge and his gun, his conscience, an indomitable spirit, and his girl Laura Madden. Perhaps, they are more than enough for the brave marshal of Saddle Rock.

“With no more backup than his shadow, Regan would fight for what he knew was right—even if it meant gunning down every last one of Weston’s hired killers.”

Wayne D. Overholser (1906-1996), author of more than seventy western novels and winner of the Spur Award as well as the Western Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, has written a classic western adventure. The 189-page western novel is a pleasant read, on account of the author’s simple narrative style and a credible story that gives you both sides of frontier justice.


  1. Thanks for this Prashant - always enjoy reading reviews of Westerns as its a genre that, outside of the movies, I know practically nothing about and I feel I should really do somethign abotu that.

    1. You're welcome, Sergio. I read a good deal of westerns though I don't write about them here as often as I'd like to. I have been reading westerns for a long time though I did give them up for a while so as to catch up with crime-fiction and other sundry thrillers. There's a lot of variety in western fiction and never a dull moment.

  2. Nicely reviewed. I like the perennial appeal of the "lone" man motivated only by a desire to stand in the way of the powerful and greedy. Watching THE WIRE, I'm becoming aware of how that man can also be motivated by payback for past grievances. Which is even more entertaining...I like the covers, too.

    1. Thank you, Ron. I have read a few westerns about the lone man and it's interesting that a lot of western writers revolve their stories around lone men, which is definitely appealing. One such lone man who comes to mind is James Green alias Sudden by Oliver Strange. In spite of making friends on his adventures, Green is essentially a loner who is always on the move, mainly because he must find two men and fulfill a promise he made to a dying man.