By Barry Cord
Ace, May 1973

Wandering cowmen, Long Jim and Windy befriend troubled cripple Lincoln Fervans and his wife at the V Bar Ranch. Lincoln has received warning notes telling him to leave his spread. Fearful for his and his wife’s life Fervans sells the ranch to Long Jim and Windy and now they become involved in the mystery of “Miguel” whose name is on the note. The men must soon draw on every reserve they have to track down a killer – to save their lives and see the ranch is returned to its rightful owners.

Barry Cord packs a lot into the pages of this story. There’s an excellent mix of characters, all of whom may have hidden agendas, even the Sheriff. And what of the Englishman known as Tally Ho, does he know what his ranch hands are doing and are they working under his orders? Then there’s the ghost of Miguel who seems to have come back from the dead to reclaim the V Bar Ranch, and is pretty handy with a rifle. 

I’ve read many books by Barry Cord and have enjoyed them all and this story is as equally entertaining, perhaps not up there with his best, but very good nonetheless. The story is a little more straightforward than a lot of Cord’s work. It doesn’t contain as much mystery as others or that many twists to the plot. In fact, the reader knows just about everything that is going on throughout, although Cord does spring one or two surprises later in the tale.

This is also the third story I’ve read about Long Jim and Windy and I don’t believe there are any more. It certainly doesn’t matter what order they are read in. In fact, I’m not even sure in what order they were originally published. This one is part of an Ace Double and is backed with another Long Jim and Windy tale, Desert Knights, that has the same publishing date. The other book, The Coffin Fillers, I’ve seen listed as being first published both in 1972, 1973 and 1974. I do think it’s a shame Cord didn’t write anymore books about Long Jim and Windy as they are a couple of likeable rogues. 

Barry Cord is a pseudonym used by Peter Germano and for me he is certainly an author worth checking out.