The Legend of Caleb York, adapted from the late Mickey Spillane’s never produced screenplay by Max Allan Collins, was published last year. (I gave it an enthusiastic review on my old blog.) A solid, entertaining western/mystery thriller, Legend introduced readers to lawman Caleb York, who manages to clean up the corrupt town of Trinidad, New Mexico in the late 19th century by the very bloody end of the book. However, at the beginning of the newest installment, The Big Showdown, York has decided to move on and work for Pinkerton’s Detective Agency. The brutal murder of his replacement as sheriff during a violent bank robbery, however, puts York’s plans to leave on hold, temporarily reinstating himself as sheriff.
While York tracks down the murderer, a new arrival in town, Zachary Garland Gauge, a stockbroker from back East, takes over ownership of the ranch once held by the evil Sheriff Harry Gauge (Zachary’s cousin) until the latter was killed by York in the previous novel. York begins to sense a connection between Gauge and the robbery, but before he can act on it, he must first deal with the five outlaw brothers of another now-deceased enemy, already on their way to Trinidad to get their revenge. And what’s going on between Zachary and York’s lady friend Willa Cullen?
The Big Showdown moves fast and leads to an exciting climax. The characters are well drawn, and in addition to some nice and suspenseful gunfight scenes, we get to see York do some actual detective work. The revelation of the main villain in the last few pages is pretty powerful, if a bit obvious.
But that’s fine. Here’s looking forward to another Caleb York Western in the future!
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