MANHUNTER’S MOUNTAIN by Wayne D. Dundee
Manhunter’s Mountain is a short novel about Cash Laramie, a Western character created by Edward Grainger. Grainger has been graciously allowing other writers to play with his toys of late, including Heath Lowrance’s take on Gideon Miles, the other U. S. Marshal in the Laramie world.
The writer for this particular tale, Wayne D. Dundee, comes with a host of bonafides – as Western characters are fond of saying, pardner. Dundee is the author of the Joe Hannibal private eye novels, and the writers of several Western tales of late.
This episode in Laramie’s life is one blistering read from start to finish. Things happen from the outset, and they don’t stop happening. I also enjoyed the fact that the story is set among frozen mountains instead on the range in or some two-bit backwater town that seem to be the settings for a lot of Westerns. The West includes a lot of inhospitable real estate, deserts as well as winter wildernesses. Jack London explored a lot of those.
I also loved the town, Silver Gulch, that has given up the ghost after the mines petered out and times got hard. Dundee is a wonderfully evocative reader and plunks his readers squarely down in the center of the decaying town and shows them the bark on those people who haven’t quite moved on yet.
The story unfolds naturally, and the characters involved in the tale are all realistically motivated, though most of them on a really base nature that can be a common denominator when many of the conventions of civilization are ripped away.
Dundee doesn’t write for the faint-hearted. One of his scenes is going to live on inside my head way past its welcome, I assure you. This vision of the Old West and the hard men that lived it is as hard-boiled as they come. I’ve read most of Dundee’s work, and I’m looking forward to more of his Westerns as well as more private eye stories.