TALES OF TOM MIX is a series of novels set in the sunset days of the Old West, based on the life of Cowboy movie legend Tom Mix; written by Scott McCrea and published by Dusty Saddle Publishing. Born & raised in New York City, Scott McCrea always dreamed of wider horizons. His love of the Old West began when he started reading about Tom Mix, a working cowboy & performer in Wild West shows who became the first big time star of American Western films. Mix’s real life experiences in the rapidly changing West provide an excellent starting point for many different kinds of adventures.
When a stranger in town is found to be cheating at cards, the other players take the law into their own hands. Shortly thereafter, the members of the lynch mob start turning up dead. Marshall Tom Mix is in
a race against time to find the killer.
This is a very entertaining whodunnit featuring well written characters and a likable, believable lead. It has a nice period feel; I especially enjoy Tom Mix reading a dime novel on the train. There are enough red herrings to keep you wondering, and the reveal comes at just the right time for the exciting final reel. It’s made even more fun by basing some of the characters on Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney Jr, Dwight Frye & Vincent Price, with cameos by Glenn Strange, Telly Savalas and Francis DeWolf. Described in terms of some of their more well known characterizations, all are recognizable, with accurate, if not always flattering, descriptions. Christopher Lee is the hardest to describe; aside from his height, he has no remarkable physical features (at least not to the casual cinema goer), a factor which stood him in good stead in his career as a character actor. More might, perhaps, have been made of Lee’s piercing eyes and long, expressive, hands & fingers, or the “Errol Flynn” pinkie, but such descriptions, satisfying as they would be to fans, would not have advanced the plot. As is, knowing that Lee is one of the featured players, it is easy to pick him out of the crowd and he does get by far the most satisfactory death scene, as befits a man who died onscreen so often and so well.
Peter Cushing is easier to describe due to those marvelous cheekbones and he is especially well drawn, with his trademark attention to diction, coldness of attitude (totally at odds with the real man) and dialogue reminiscent of the educated tones of Frankenstein or Van Helsing. There are also a number of references to films in which these various gentlemen appeared, which are a delight to come across. I have not read a lot of Westerns (the few that I did read growing up were mostly about horses), but Western films and TV series were a staple diet of my childhood and adolescence in the 60s. This book reminds me a bit of Gunsmoke, where the Marshall was sweet on the Lady saloon owner and the Bartender was always at hand. These were stories for a simpler time, before the rise of the anti-hero; when the good guys were Good, if a little conflicted. The bad guys might be black hearted villains, or might have some redeeming features, but all paid for their crimes by story’s end. There were, however, few, if any, tales of the time when the Old West was fading away and the modern world asserting itself, like some kind of ivy that takes over a wall, eventually destroying it. This is the small moment in time in which the Tales of Tom Mix are set, with Our Hero holding true to tradition, while aware that times are changing.
Deuces Wild is the 4th novel in the series, following Mountain Killer, Savage Mesa and Cowboy Justice. Tom Mix’s life spanned the end of the Old West and the early days of American cinema. Along the way, he met many legendary people, such as Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Boris Karloff & John Wayne, any of whom may turn up in stories! And, as we’ve seen in Deuces Wild, there may be other “guest stars” waiting to be discovered.
For further information, please visit the series’ website www.talesoftommix.com Books are available from the website & also on Amazon, in both hard copy and Kindle formats. HERE!