The Man Called Bowdry is great story for those who are fans of the country and western/cowboy genre. It's authored by Van Holt, `King of the Hellbound Westerns', who easily lives up to his reputation.
The story centers around Bowdry, of whom not much is known. He appears on the scene, delivers what needs to be done, and then disappears into the hills without a trace. Holt skillfully offers just enough detail to pull the story together, without going `flowery' and over the top, expertly staying true to this genre. Fans will appreciate his straightforward, unfussy style of writing, which focuses solely on the plot at hand.
All hell breaks loose when an old man, thought to be Bowdry's father, is mercilessly murdered for the price of an old shack. Bowdry sets out to set things straight, by bringing those responsible to justice (a cowboy's sense of justice, that is!). However, he is beaten to the punch by an unknown character who, one by one, is beating off the members of the unsavory Wadley clan, leaving Bowdry to take the blame.
Bowdry's life hangs in the balance as he suddenly becomes the most wanted man in the land, seemingly responsible for a number of shootings for which only he appears to have motive. His odds of survival seem slim, a battle of one against many, but then Bowdry is a man like no other, skillful, determined and patient.
The Man Called Bowdry is a great read. It has all the elements of a fine western, with just the right mix of action and adventure set amidst a backdrop of rugged terrain; unforgiving mountain ranges deadly to those who are unaware of its secrets. Gun-fighting aplenty, this is one story sure to thrill those who appreciate a bit of conflict and peril.
In a tale in the tradition of Shane, the man called Bowdry, of whom nothing is known, arrives out of nowhere, delivers justice as he perceives it, then rides off into the hills. Van Holt tells the story in a simple, straightforward style. Old man Pollard has been squatting on land at the edge of the range used by the 3-Bar. The Wadleys, a family of ruffians, has acquired the 3-Bar and want old Pollard out. They harass him but he won’t go. Then Bowdry arrives on the scene and we’re led to suppose he could be Pollard’s estranged son. When Bowdry returns from town one day and finds old man Pollard shot dead, he sets out to bring his form of justice to those responsible, but soon finds that a mysterious killer is always one step head of him as the Wadleys are picked off one by one, leaving him to take the blame. It’s a good story, well written in a manner well suited to followers of the genre, set in a believable background of rugged western mountain country, with a good mix of action and atmosphere.
I have now read several of Van Holt's stories but this was not my favourite by a wide margin. All of Mr. Holt's westerns have a raw edge with lots of gunfights and this one is no different, there is plenty of action but this particular story seems to stagnate a bit between the bursts of gunfire the story infilled with large tracts of colloquial often meaningless dialogue.
The story relates the events over a handful of days following the arrival of a gunfighter in town, the murder of an old man, and the campaign for revenge that ensues. Good staple western actioner diet.
Never-the-less it was a readable novel with a good storyline which has a dash of mystery added to the action but no real surprises. In my personal opinion not the best offering from this author but worth reading.