by Donn O'Hara
Popular Library, 1955
The back cover reads: "Captive Mistress--On the pleasure boats of the
Old Mississippi, passions ran high when men gambled for the favors of beautiful
women--and renegades carried off girls along with other loot.
Disguised as a notorious outlaw, hot-blooded Dave Macdonough invaded
the river rogues' hideout in a reckless attempted to destroy them. But
his mission became an act of personal vengeance when he met the lovely
swamp water girl who was their captive mistress."
We would be remiss if we overlooked one of the tried-and-true heroes
of Bachelor Pad fiction...that of the riverboat gambler. In a pre-Civil
War era, a bachelor's life was still not an easy one. They always had some
high society dame trying to civilize them or some backwoods vixen in a
potato sack dress trying to keep him in her part of the swamp. As in most
stories of this kind, the hero of The Wild Years is a mysterious
drifter looking for justice. The world has branded him a criminal...a rouge...a
rake...but everyone is wrong (as they always are). He infiltrates a gang
of riverboat pirates just as easily as he infiltrates a high society ball.
And when he is done breaking jaws and breaking hearts, he turns and walks
away. It's a formula used over and over again in pulp fiction (and for
good reason): just change the names; change the setting; put the femme
fatale in a different dress; make the hero a small-time hood, or a washed-up
musicians, or a bullfighter, or even a circus strongman; and you basically
have the plot to 80% of all tawdry paperbacks ever written. Not that there's
anything wrong with that. If it ain't broke, why fix it.
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