I read a few of Elmore Leonard’s pulp magazine western shorts from his early days a while back and found them pretty dreadful. Last Stand at Saber River doesn’t fit that mold at all at all. It takes off like a bullet which keeps moving through the end of the story and even beyond in some ways. From the names (Paul Cable, the Kidston brothers, Janroe) to the tale itself, this is a classic of its kind.
We’re in Arizona at the tail end of the Civil War. Cable’s done his service with the confederacy and wants to reclaim his homestead and return to the farming he’d started before the war. Trouble is, the Kidston Brothers have moved in, are using the land to raise horses for the Union, and they show no inclination to make way for the former occupant, especially since he’s a reb.
Lots of action, well-drawn characters (including a juicy young blond femme fatale), and a completely unconventional ending make this a zippy and most satisfying read. Even if you don’t read Westerns.