The Bloody Spur is Mickey Spillane’s and Max Allan Collins’ third Western novel featuring former Wells Fargo detective and current Trinidad, New Mexico Sheriff Caleb York. Max Allan Collins wrote this smooth tale based on characters created by Spillane, for John Wayne’s Batjac Productions, in an unproduced screenplay.
The Santa Fe Railroad wants a spur between Trinidad and the nearby Las Vegas, New Mexico, but it needs a right-of-way across George Cullen’s Bar-O ranch. The new rail line would increase commerce, population, make Trinidad’s cattle ranchers more competitive, and enrich the town’s business owners. But George Cullen is a tough and stubborn old man, now blind, with no intention of allowing the tracks on Bar-O property. His opinion is unpopular with most everyone, including the Trinidad Citizens Committee, and creates an unusual hostility in town. Alver Hollis’ arrival—a gunfighter known as Preacherman—adds more tension since York thinks the gunman has come to Trinidad to kill. But Hollis’ target, or why anyone would want a Trinidad resident murdered, is a mystery.
The Bloody Spur is an enjoyable and entertaining western tale. Its traditional storyline—Sheriffs, gunfighters, ranchers, railroads—is comfortable and, in all the right places, surprising. There is a nifty mystery included, which York handles with flair and style. A romantic twist, murder, betrayal, a satisfying amount of action, and humor—provided by York’s deputy, the former town drunk—making The Bloody Spur a rewarding journey into the Old West and New Mexico’s high country.