Texas Showdown Elmer Kelton, Forge, $24.95, Hardcover; 888-330-8477.

texasshowdownTwo novels by seven-time Spur winner Elmer Kelton about his home, west Texas, have been released in one volume. In the first novel, titled Pecos Crossing, a pair of mentally-challenged cowpokes blunder into one unbelievable scrape after another while attempting to force their unscrupulous employer into paying their back wages. Yet this 1964 reprint lacks the hard-edged characterizations and passionate storyline Kelton readers have come to expect.

The second novel, Shotgun, is another 1960s reprint and fares much better. The villainous Macy Modock, fresh out of prison, returns to Two Forks determined to settle the score with Blair Bishop, a tough rancher who is responsible for putting Modock in jail.  Bishop has enough problems on his hands, though, as he is battling ill health, drought, scheming neighbors and a son in love with the wrong girl.  The bloody feud that erupts has a happy ending and makes for a worthwhile read. —Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza

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