Monday, September 06, 2004

Solid Story from Old Pro

Gateway House by Wayne D. Overholser
Leisure Books,

There is a shock in Gateway House that has nothing to do with the plot. Written in 1953 for Better Publications, and appearing in Giant Western’s February issue, this is a redemption story. Ed Morgan’s brother is dead but his last request was that Ed return to Gateway House, find a hidden cache of $50,000, and give it to his fiance, Honey Travers. But Ed is warned: one look at Honey and he’ll never want another woman. This proves true and after some fisticuffs, gunplay, and chases, the bad guys die and Ed and Honey ride off into the sunset.

It’s a fast-moving story filled with uncharacteristic emotional angst, for a western. Ed rarely knows the right course to take, always doubting Honey and just about everyone else. The writing is excellent, as you would expect from Overholser.

What you don’t expect are two very strong words, words you would not expect from Overholser or from a pulp story. He uses the B word several times referring to women in the story, and once he uses the F word. This is quite shocking and sent me scrambling to figure out how these words got into the final manuscript. A notation at the front of the book, however, held the answer to the mystery. It says "An earlier version, ‘shorter’ [sic] of this novel ….", and the copyright was renewed in 1980. Apparently, Mr. Overholser revised his novel to more reflect modern sensibilities, or perhaps he returned to his original manuscript. Regardless, the addition of these words is jarring and totally unnecessary. Still, they don’t really detract from the enjoyment of this excellent western novel.

Enjoyment Factor (out of 10) - 8

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