Max Brand- The Smiling Desperado (Warner 1974) 3.5 Stars
Bill Lancaster was a dangerous man that no one dared mess with. He was fast with a gun, deadly with his fists, and a bully who never let you forget who was tougher. Young Dan Cadigan however refused to be pushed. Mistaken for a quiet weakling, no one expected him to stand up to Bill Lancaster. Fighting him with his fists he made Lancaster realize that someone was tougher than he was. Desperate he used his gun on Cadigan while they were fighting. Now Cadigan wants to teach Lancaster a lesson and he intended to use what he had just discovered, that he did not know fear. Danger made a smile touch his lips.
I used to read Max Brand’s novels years ago and found that I could still enjoy his writing. For such a short book I was surprised at the depth of the characters, as I was kind of expecting them to be weak. The plot was not overly deep, but it was enough to make the story interesting and keep me reading. Max Brand started this one off in an interesting way. He started with a scene from Cadigan’s childhood, which was a different way of beginning a book, and kind of drew me in. The ending of The Smiling Desperado was alright, not great, but not terrible, just average. I of course loved the setting as it still gets my imagination going to think of the old western era, but I will not bore you with carrying on with that line of thought.
I recommend The Smiling Desperado to western readers of all ages.
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