By L. Ron Hubbard
Director: Jim Meskimen
Starring: Edorado Ballerini, Bob Casco, R. F. Daley, Jim Meskimen, Richard Rocco Talt Ruppert, Johsh R. Thompson, and Michael Yurchak
Studio: Galaxy Press
Release Date: February 21, 2011
Running Time: 2 hours 14 minutes
Westerns are a dying breed, especially on television and on the big screen. Even fiction novels are becoming a thing of the past. It is nice to see Galaxy Press reviving the genre by bring L. Ron Hubbard's short stories onto audio books, featuring talented voice actors, outstanding music, and unique special effects.
Galaxy Press nicely sent me a complimentary copy of the Devil's Manhunt, winner of the International Book Awards. The story first appeared in the February 1950 issue of Famous Western. The audiobook also features two additional stories, Johnny, the Town Tamer and Stranger in town.
In the Devil's Manhunt, twenty-three-year-old Tim Beckdolt has always been a drifter every since he left home at the age of fourteen. He hopes can get the money to own his own ranch by digging for gold in Desperation Peak, Arizona. Just as he found a seam of gold worth $175,000, two thieves, the Swedish giant Sven and the Virginian killer Bonnet, captures and forces him by gunpoint to dig for more gold. Tim escapes, but he is unarmed and has no water. To survive the dangerous wilderness, he must outsmart his captures.
The Texan named Sudden Johnny comes ridding into Fortville looking for payback in the short story Johnny, the Town Tamer. It seems that the town's owner, George Bart, swindled $15,000 from one of Johnny's men from the cattle drive. Johnny comes into the saloon showing off his gold dust and talking about the herds of cattle. George overhears everything and talks Johnny into a poker game. George plans on switching the cards during the game to make sure he gets the gold dust and the cattle, but Johnny has plans of his own that involves bringing down the whole town.
In the short story Stranger in Town, Zeke Tomlin has spent the last nine months living in the small town of Dry Creek. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn't worry that trouble will roll into town for him and that day is today as a corrupted sheriff, Harmon, has tracked him down. Now Zeke must confront his past if he plans of surviving the day.
Over the last ten years or so, I have become a fan of westerns, especially the ones with Clint Eastwood, so I was intrigued to listen to Devil's Manhunt and the other two stories. I have reviewed several others titles by L. Ron Hubbard, but this is the first western I have reviewed by him, so I was a little skeptical. All my doubts disappeared after listening to a few minutes of the audiobook. All three stories are smartly written and represents the genre well. Each story had a couple of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. Overall, Devil's Manhunt was fun to listen to and I recommend it to other western fans.