"Valuing human lives as little more than a meal ticket, Track is still on the trail, four years after the Civil War. Far more than a soldier's pay can be earned from head-down over Track's saddle.
This time the ruthless bounty hunter has the gleam of gold in his eye. Prospectors like Frank Dawson found and lost more fortunes than most men. But, untroubled by conscience or compassion, Track follows no man's rules.
With a head of blond hair which would grace any Apache's lodge pole, Track resists the temptation of April Jacob's lithe body in his quest for higher reward.
Exacting a long overdue war debt from Colonel Taylor, he seizes the Apache war chief and sets out to pack his saddle bag with gold. The head count will be high, because killing is Track's business and business is good..."
I've got a fair few Shaun Hutson books, as every charity shop in the world seems to have them (see also: Richard Laymon). I'm ashamed to say I've never actually read one (see also: Richard Laymon), so having found this little number at the market for eighty English pence, I got involved. I would have never actually known this was by Hutson if it wasn't for this board so, cheers for that. Apparently Shaun is known for his lovingly realistic medical descriptions of gore and the effect of a bullet, and whaddyaknow, this is all in abundance here.
This is a real meat-and-potatoes PC Western, with a very basic plot with little in the way of twists (SPOILER ALERT: bloke finds gold, partner gets killed by injuns, gets Track on board, injuns try to get them, army helps a bit, loads of people die, they kill injuns and get gold, bloke tries to cheat Track and kill him at the end and obviously dies - that's literally it, no sub-plot apart from one scene where a floozy tries to bed Track and he throws her in the street). Track is a nondescript ex-Cavalry man who now cares little for his fellow man and earns his living as a bounty hunter. The whys and wherefores of how he came to be such a cold mofo are not elaborated upon - he just is, because he killed lots of men in the Civil War. Supporting characters are also distinctly unmemorable, ciphers with little in the way of Harknett or James-style quirks.
I loved it! Really pacey, simple writing, everything set up nice and quick, cardboard characters - bring on the incredibly gratuitous violence. It's pretty witless - Track's obligatory puns aren't as clever as Edge's and there's no grim ironic Laurence James type humour either. The basic nature of the characters and writing give it a cartoon quality, but it's mean-spirited as hell. A little girl gets her throat cut so badly that her head nearly comes off, in front of her mum who is then bothered by about 7 Apaches in a row. He'll spend a good few lines on a really loving description of a shotgun wound to the head, or a disembowelling. There's lots of genitalia getting mashed up along the way (akin to a Breed book I read) - a coyote eats a dead guy's cock and balls near the end! I am definitely becoming desensitized to extremely nasty pulp (the same way I did with Italian cannibal movies etc a few years back!) - but this definitely ticks all the boxes. Great entertainment, highly recommended for antisocial dumbasses like my good self.
To use a punk analogy, if George G Gilman is the Stooges or the Dead Boys, Samuel P Bishop is the Exploited!
Picked this one up today, along with one of Hutson's War books as 'Wolf Kruger'. On the strength of Bush's review above, I have to read Apache Gold first but I'm looking forward to Kruger's Men of Blood too. Great opening line;
"I hate this sodding weather," muttered Brandt.
I reckon it was just like that on the Eastern Front.