This morning I made a wonderful discovery. Three of H. A. DeRosso’s books are back in print as trade paperbacks and low cost ebooks. Two are novels, the third is a collection, and all three are westerns. The titles: .44, The Dark Brand, and Under the Burning Sun. I reviewed Under the Burning Sun several years ago—
“It tended toward the unusual and bleak, the mythical and surreal, but it also vitalized the characters with a hard-bitten sadness and self-awareness that is rarely found in genre fiction. A major theme in the stories is one of hope, but it is hope that is never fulfilled.”
—and the stories are as vibrant in my memory now as they were when I originally read them.
Publisher’s description: “Dan Harland was a man with a reputation—a reputation earned through killing. He was a hired gun, and the speed of his .44 was the stuff of legend. He never enjoyed his work, but he did it well and the pay was good.
But even the money didn’t help when Harland was hired to hunt down a man who seemed all too ready to be killed. The look in that man's eyes as he died stirred something almost forgotten in Harland's soul...his conscience. All at once, Harland knew he couldn’t rest until he found the mysterious man who had hired him for the job—even if the trail led to his own grave.”
The Dark Brand
Publisher’s description: “Stuck in a jail cell with a man due to be hanged, Driscoll found out that the guy had robbed a bank and killed a man. He also found out that the money was never recovered. Now out of jail, Driscoll realizes that the townspeople think the condemned man had told Driscoll where the loot was buried before he had died. Now it seems that everybody wants that money enough to kill for it.”
Under the Burning Sun
Publisher’s description: “Of all the amazing writers published in the popular fiction magazines of the 1940s and '50s, one of the greatest was H.A. DeRosso. Within twenty years he published nearly two hundred Western short stories, all noted for their brilliant style, their realism and their compelling vision of the dark side of the Old West. Now, finally we have a collection of the best work of this true master of the Western story.
This collection, edited by Bill Pronzini, presents a cross-section of DeRosso's Western fiction, spanning his entire career. Here are eleven of his best stories and his riveting short novel, ‘The Bounty Hunter,’ all powerful and spellbinding, and all filled with the excitement, the passion, and the poetry of Western writing at its peak.”