Monday, August 1, 2011

Seven Faces, by Max Brand

Seven Faces
By Max Brand

My local library system is not exactly overflowing with classic mysteries so when I came across a volume by Max Brand (Frederick Faust) I was rather surprised. Especially since I had assumed that Brand was more of a Western writer. As it turns out, I was right. The Max Brand Web site calls him "The World's Most Celebrated Western Writer."

But given that only about 300 of his estimated 500 books were Westerns that leaves a fair amount of room to delve into other genres, such as this mystery. Seven Face deals with the problem of how a man traveling on a train under police guard could be taken from said train and bumped off in a rather gruesome manner. As the plot thickens it turns out that there was a partnership gone bad some years back at a mine in Nevada and some old scores are now being settled as a result.

Not too bad, all in all, though Brand's pulp leanings are quite in evidence here. This is a fast-paced, rollicking tale that reads like it was written by someone who spent little time lingering over the finer points of fiction writing.

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