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28 July 2013

Louis Masterson: MORGAN KANE - Without Mercy

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Great Western Adventure Series
Morgan Kane is a stereotype of a Western hero. He is a Texas Ranger, an expert gunslinger and has three weaknesses - women, alcohol and gambling.

Morgan joins a poker game in St Louis with three strangers but even though he is a skilled gambler he loses several thousand dollars in one evening. He is convinced they are cheating but can't work out how it has been done. On the train back to Fort Worth he is tricked by a beautiful woman into going outside on the platform between carriages where the same three men are hiding. First he is deliberately shot through his gun hand and then in the stomach.

Seriously wounded, Kane tumbles off the train but survives because he is found  and nursed back to health by a local rancher and his family. As he gains strength he plans his vengeance. First he has to find the villains and then work out ways to kill them.

This book is Western escapism at its best. It is an archetypal Western adventure of the kind that was made into movies and TV series many years ago and IMHO the time may have come for a revival. The Kane series are an entertaining form of easy-reading page-turning short reads that should become very popular.

The surprising thing is that the series was written by Norwegian author, the late Kjell Hallbing, under the pen name of Louis Masterson. In all he wrote 83 books in the Morgan Kane series  between 1966 and 1985 which sold over 20 million copies worldwide, 11 million in Norway alone.

A quick Wiki tells me that all books in the series are in the process of being released as e-books, especially targeting the US audience, and movies may be planned that could give Morgan a cult following (as long as they don't cast Tom Cruise as Morgan Kane who is well over 6ft tall). While I look forward to reading more in the series, especially the earlier ones, the thought of  82 books more books overpowers me.

PS While I really liked this book I am still waiting for my favourite Western adventure/history, "Centennial" by James Michener (a mere 900 pages) to be released on Kindle.

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