Friday, 31 October 2008

Forgotten Books: Horn Silver by Frank C. Robertson

Frank Chester Robertson (1890 - 1969) was an Idaho sheep and cattle farmer who wrote more than 200 western novels - the first, 'Foreman Of The Forty-Bar', was written in 1925.
He was President of the Western Writers Of America (1959-1960).

HORN SILVER was the first adult western that I borrowed from the library and it left a lasting impression.
The story is quite simple - the hero, MacGruder rides into the town of Horn Silver to find the runaway daughter of a friend. He rides into a town that is living in fear and not just by the threatened closure of the Rattlesnake Mine - but by, possibly, one of the most evil lawmen that I have encountered in western fiction.
Marshall Huggard has one rule either work or get out of town - he won't stand for loafers in his town. Also, he has a quick answer to those who don't do as he tells them - he arrests them and then he, and his deputies, gun the culprit down 'while trying to escape'.
In the mix is Rosy Parnell who owns the Frisco Bar. He is a likeable character but a chancer as well who has his fingers in too many pies. The Svedin family who are fighting to keep the mine running against the odds - safety has been put to one side for the sake of greed.
With the various characters, including MacGruder, playing their own parts in the story Frank C. Robertson shows that these people are real and that there is good and bad in all of them. But Huggard, alone, is the only character without a redeeming quality.
Having re-read this book my childhood opinion is unchanged - it is as good today as when I first read it.