End of the Gun was a paperback original published by Pocket Books’ imprint Perma Books in 1955, which is the very edition that caught my eye. The artwork is stark in a monochromatic sort of way. A large hand holding a revolver, the wrong end pointed at the audience, one chamber empty, and a brown background. The artist: Tom Ryan.
The opening paragraph:
“In the pines, Britton waited patiently, peering steadily at the band of mustangs drinking at the spring below. The stallion was a coyote-dun with a black mane and tail and he kept moving about restlessly and warily, head flung up as he sniffed the air. Britton, however, was down-wind and he knew the stallion would never catch his scent.”
H. A. (Henry Andrew) DeRosso was born in Wisconsin in 1917. He was primarily a short story writer who specialized in Westerns; although he also wrote some very good mystery stories. He published six novels (all Westerns); End of the Gun was the fourth. He died of a gunshot wound in October 1960, which was ruled accidental by the Coroner, but there has been speculation it was suicide—his health was failing, and, interestingly, Marquette General Hospital owns the copyright to many—if not all—of his stories.
Mr. DeRosso’s writing, at its best, is existential, violent, and melancholy. His Westerns are almost entirely set in the desert Southwest, and his portrayal of the hard, dry, stark landscape is a central element. I have previously reviewed two posthumous story collections titled Under the Burning Sun, and Riders of the Shadowlands; both edited by Bill Pronzini. I have also reviewed his mystery story “Revenge is Bitter-Sweet”.
This is the sixteenth in a series of posts featuring the cover art and miscellany of books I find at thrift stores and used bookshops. It is reserved for books I purchase as much for the cover art as the story or author.