Gunsmoke is a book that has sat on my shelf for a number of years before I finally decided to pick it up. I had thought the book was one story, however, it is actually a collection of four short stories, though you would never know that by reading the books description. The stories are Dead Man Deputy, Lodeville, Shadow and The Trail to Monterey.
Of these three stories I felt that the first two, Dead Man Deputy and Lodeville, were the best representations of the western genre, although The Trail to Monterey was pretty good as well. Those first two stories had a lot of what I have come to expect out of the genre, cowboys (duh), bar brawls, gun fights, strong independent women, rich men who think they are above the law and plenty of horses. There is more to the books, but without those key factors then it’s not a western. They were all quick reads and had a good flow throughout, making the book fly by but also was enjoyable to read.
Really the only downside to this book was the story Shadow. While it was a quick and fairly enjoyable read, I felt that it didn’t at all fit into the western genre. It’s as though it was tossed into the book purely to make it longer. Though, admittedly, it did fit in a way, as all four stories had a theme of redemption in it, and the main character of Shadow indeed needed to redeem himself.
I can’t really go much more into detail about these stories as I do not want to give out any spoilers, but overall I enjoyed this book. I was disappointed it was a short story collection instead of one single story though. If you want a quick western read then Gunsmoke is a good place to start.