Re your comments below:
"I have always liked L'Amour's work. I know some people think
of him as a hack, but I have a lot of respect for him. In any case,
I've enjoyed everything I've read by him, including a few stories in
anthologies. Do Raravians favor westerns? Years ago I consumed a large
number of them, with no regrets or bad aftereffects. .. I reached a
point at which I couldn't find very many new authors that I liked."
I love westerns. In fact, thanks to characters like the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and the Cisco Kid, who were ubiquitous in UHF reruns when I was a kid, I'd have to say I liked westerns before I discovered mysteries, and I suspect that, subliminally, mysteries, at least the hard-boiled kind, often struck me as essentially westerns in modern dress.
Coincidentally, I just finished watching a film called THE TALL STRANGERS on "On-Demand," with Joel McCrea, based on Lamour's novel of the same name, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Not HONDO, but a solidly constructed piece of entertainment anchored by McCrea's steady-as-you-go authoritativeness.
Lamour put together his own collection of crime stories from his pulp apprenticeship some years ago called THE HILLS OF HOMICIDE. Some of the stories in that collection may also appear in the recently released volume. There's an interesting history behind THE HILLS OF HOMICIDE. A small publisher got hold of a number of Lamour's mysteries on which the copyright had lapsed and put out a collection with the same title. Naturally disgruntled, Lamour put out his own, identically titled collection, which included all the stories in the unauthorized edition, along with a few stories on which he'd managed to retain the copyright, and notes written by him on the stories, hoping to outsell the unauthorized edition.
Like you, I've always found Lamour a skilled craftsman, a solid story-teller, and an altogether better writer than he's often credited with.
As for worhtwhile western writers, others here have already mentioned Loren Estleman. He's not the only cross-pollinator. A few others include Matt Helm creator Donald Hamilton, LITTLE CAESAR author W.R. Burnett, Spenser creator Robert B. Parker (the current western APALOOSA is based on one of his western novels), modern-day pulpster Bill Pronzini, prolific PWA founder Robert J. Randisi, and our own James Reasoner.
A few contemporary writers, regarded primarily as western novelists, whom you might want to try include Elmer Kelton, Johnny D. Boggs, Wendi Lee, Matt Braun, and Richard Wheeler (whose TROUBLE IN TOMBSTONE, notwithstanding its unimaginative title, is, IMHO, one of the best, perhaps THE best, and certainly the most historically accurate, fictional rendering of the Earp/Clanton conflict ever).
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