James Reasoner's The Diablo Grant is one of his best westerns on a shelf full of excellent westerns indeed.
For one thing, the story peg is is irresistible. The town drunk seems to possess a piece of paper that seems to be a land grant that gives the formerly luckless Espina claim to a large piece of prime land.
Most unhappy of all about this are the powerful men who essentially own and run this area of New Mexico. Series hero Judge Earl Stark is brought in to settle the matter legally but when he rules in favor of Espina, violence is inevtiable. You may not have noticed but powerful men aren't necessarily keen on abiding by the laws that rule the rest of us.
Diablo contains some of Reasoner's best writing, clear, evocative language that recreates its historical time perfectly. The characters, too, are true to their time, yet also true, vital human beings.
And then there's the story. Salted with all sorts of twists, lean and mean as a thriller.
This one is well worth looking for on Abe or Alibirbis.
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And not only that. James is the cover boy. That's my hand on the pistol behind him.
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