Renegade of Rainbow Basin by Hal G. Evarts. 144 pages. Copyright 1953 by Hal G. Evarts. Published by Popular Library in 1960.
From the first page this story struck me as hard boilded, dusty, and gritty–a western noir. Jim Bristow rides down from the high country to return to the place he never intended to return back to. Only one thing could have made him come back to the Muleshoe ranch in Rainbow Basin and that was a plea from Adam Hyatt, the man who took him in when he was a wayward young whelp and treated him like his own son. Bristow had left over a woman, Hyatt’s daughter, a headstrong domineering frontier woman who he was almost going to marry. Bristow is met by an unfamiliar ranch hand (a hired gun named Naylor) and not too gently taken to trail camp of Lee Corum, the owner of the Circle K where he is told that old man Hyatt has died. Corum was a friend of Bristow but right then he is trying to herd some cattle under the nose of Muleshoe through open graze land in order to sell to the railroad but things have become very complex because Adam Hyatt didn’t die of natural causes. Lead poisoning was the cause of death–Hyatt was killed when he was returning home from Corum’s ranch after negotiations on the railroad beef and now everyone thinks that Corum was responsible. Corum tries to keep Bristow at the camp but he escapes and makes it to town just in time for the funeral.
Trouble soon follows when Bristow sticks his nose into things in the Basin all over again. He becomes the one everyone hates and eventually it all falls upon him to make peace with the ranchers. He has to keep the range from erupting in open war while finding who really killed Adam Hyatt. Lucky for him there are some people who still trust him and at least one other woman who loves him.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found the following information on the author at this web page: Cowboy Directory.
Hal G. Evarts was born in Hutchinson, Kan. on Feb. 8, 1915. He received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1936. He worked as a screen writer and newspaper reporter. He was a staff member of the Paris editon of the New York Herald-Tribune from 1939-40. Then he went into full-time writing, turning out combat histories, short stories, and juvenile books as well as Westerns. He served as vice-president of the WWA (Western Writers of America) back in 1959-60. Over 100 of his articles have appeared in such magazines as Esquire, Ellery Queen, Collier’s and Saturday Evening Post. His Westerns include Highgrader (1954), Apache Agent (1955), Fugitive’s Canyon (a collection of short stories, 1955), Ambush Rider (1956), The Night Raiders (1956), The Man Without a Gun (1957), The Man from Yuma (1958), The Long Rope (1959), The Blazing Land (1960), Turncoat (1962), The Silver Concubine (1962), Massacre Creek (1962), Colorado Crossing (1963), The Branded Man (1965), Smuggler’s Road (1968), The Sundown Kid (1969). He also wrote nine novels for juveniles.