The Vengeance Trail

Vengeance Trail StarTitle: The Vengeance Trail
Author: Paul Evan Lehman
Publisher: Star Western (No. 103)
Published: 1957

‘His back was a target for every outlaw gun!’

On the title page, each Star Western declared, ‘This is a Star Western. Every story new. Every story complete.’ This is somewhat of an exaggeration, the stories were new to Australian shores, but they weren’t new. Most had been published in the United States for many years.

In this one, Jim Randall rides to Briscoe after being informed his father died from a bullet wound. In his haste, Randall pushes his mount too hard and the horse collapses. He makes the rest of the journey by stage coach. On route he meets Alonzo and Linda Lane, a father and daughter traveling to San Antonio. Linda is described as being ‘extraordinarily pretty’, and naturally enough Randall finds himself drawn to her. But a romance novel, this is not. The action starts soon after.

Vengeance Trail US 2That night, two gunslingers come for Randall and one puts a slug in his side. Before collapsing, Randall shoots one of the attackers, but the other flees into the shadows. Randall is patched up (by Linda Lane – yeah, yeah, this is not a romance novel) and continues his journey. Upon arrival in Briscoe, he finds his father wasn’t murdered at all, but took his own life after discovering he owed the bank (and the town) $70,000. It would appear to be an open and shut case, except for the encounter with the gunslingers. Their unwarranted attack alerts Randall to the fact something more sinister in going on.

Vengeance_Trail USTHE VENGEANCE TRAIL is an entertaining, but at times clunky western tale, with action sequences that are a little chaste by today’s standard. Maybe that’s because the story is older than listed. In the Star edition, it states this book was ‘First Published 1957’. In actuality, the story was originally released as THE COLD TRAIL (1949) in the United States, although later published by Ace Books as THE VENGEANCE TRAIL. It would seem Star acquired the rights from Ace, as they have even used the same artwork, although flipped in the other direction. I’ve attached some other cover art I’ve scrounged from the net for comparison.

Idaho KidPaul Evan Lehman wrote more than 50 westerns over the course of his career. Two of his westerns were turned into films, GUNSMOKE OVER THE GUADELUPE was made as GUN SMOKE (1935) – and IDAHO was made as THE IDAHO KID (1936).

For the collectors among you, seeking Australian Star Westerns, Lehman also wrote:

Passion in the Dust (1953) – Star Books 208
Texas Guns (1954) – Star Books 224
Rustlers of Rio Grande – Star Books 261
Fighting Buckeroo – Star Books 273
Bullets Don’t Bluff (1955) – Star Books 307

I’m sure there’s others, but that’s all I can confirm at this time

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