Monday, June 27, 2011

The Cage by Talmage Powell

The Cage by Talmage Powell
Avon G1346
Copyright 1969

Sykes touched his bleeding ribs. "That's good. Let him pay! Let the sun, the flies, and the buzzards have him, while me and you tear up a Mexican town with his five thousand dollars!"

Webb Cameron returns to his ranch after a tiring day of pole-setting and wire-stringing to find his wife brutally beaten, raped, and left mentally in a vegetable state. Showing no signs of improvement and unable to control his wife, Cameron builds a cage to keep her from harming herself. Vengeance is on his mind and the trail that is left by the culprits leads into the sun-scorched badlands. With no one to tend to his wife, Cameron locks her in the caged wagon and heads out after them. He believes that if she confronts those who ravished her, she will be will be cured and return back to normal. So his journey begins and along the way we meet a down-and-out prospector, an obscure couple what has a few skeletons in their closet, a band of half-starved renegade Indians, and the two mean bastards that Cameron is pursuing.

This is more than a revenge Western novel. There are some complex characters at play here and a shock or two awaits the reader during Cameron’s hunt for the abusers of his wife. Little subplots are in the novel. Lost honor and brutal survival are hopelessly demoralizing the not-so-merry band of Indians. The ranch couple goes along with Webb Cameron, not to help him, but mainly to restore a personal dignity that was lost. Whenever the story shifts to the villains, Sickly Sykes (who is white) and Columbus George, (who is black) it gets kicked up a notch. They are ruthless and savage boys lacking any sense of humanity, but they will arouse the attention of the reader. The main character Webb Cameron was the least appealing to me, but the others compensate plenty for him. Written in 1969, “The Cage” is a bit different from your traditional Western novel. I liked it – a good dusty story, merciless action, and an excellent ending. Not bad for a 127 page Western novel.

And written by the author that gave us those wonderful PI Ed River novels.

1 comment:

Steve Lewis said...

Never seen this one, never ever, and I own several thousand westerns (and I'm always on the lookout for more).

Add this one to the want list!