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Death Ground (Thorndike Western I) Hardcover – Large Print, October 6, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a western for grown-ups, written in a lean, hardboiled style that should appeal to readers who "don't read westerns." In the waning years of the frontier, in an unnamed territory, bounty-hunter Guild celebrates a joyless 54th birthday in a brothel. Guild is acting as bodyguard for Merle Rig, a very unpleasant man who is soon murdered, along with a teenager whom Guild had reluctantly hired as an assistant. Suspicion points to Kriker, a notoriously violent mountain man, bank robber and leader of a secluded settlement of former low-lifes. The laconic Guild, carrying his own personal guilt about a dead child, sets out to bring Kriker to justice, accompanied by the nasty Bruckner brothers, sheriff's deputies. Kriker, meanwhile, is nursing his adoptive daughter, using a "granny woman's" folk medicine that is useless against what turns out to be cholera. Gorman ( Guild and the Jack Dwyer mysteries) uses the period setting effectively and draws his characters with a deft hand.
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Product Details

  • Series: Thorndike Western I
  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (September 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410426912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410426918
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,122,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Boulden on October 24, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Leo Guild is an aging bounty hunter. He is a former lawman, father and husband, but that is all behind him. Now he rides alone. He is melancholy, intelligent and violent; when he needs to be. He also has a past that sticks with him. He killed a little girl. The courts forgave him, but he can't find the heart to forgive himself.

DEATH GROUND opens on the evening of Guild's 54th birthday. In lonely celebration he makes a date at the local brothel with a young "straw-haired" girl. Things don't go as expected with the girl and his birthday truly turns for the worse when he is summoned to the Sheriff's office.

Two men are dead. One--Merle Rig--hired Guild as a bodyguard and the other--Kenny Tolliver--was technically Guild's employee. He hired Kenny to protect Rig while he paid a visit to the "straw-haired" girl. As he looks at the cadavers on the heavy mortician's tables he figures his job is gone and it is time to ride on, but first he pays a visit to Kenny's mother. A scene that unsettles Guild and also piques his interest; Kenny's mother knew Rig and Kenny palled around with a couple local deputies.

Leo Guild decides he can't leave town until he figures who really killed the pair and why. He has a feeling it is not the violent mountain man being blamed by the Sheriff, but he doesn't have many suspects. He doesn't have anything but a hunch, really.

DEATH GROUND isn't a traditional Western. It, like all of Gorman's Westerns, is a noir mystery wrapped in the trappings of the Old West. That is not to say that the historical element isn't accurate or interesting, because it is. It is also central to the story, but an Ed Gorman Western is more of a historical mystery than anything else. A hardboiled historical mystery at that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lasiuta on November 4, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Exactly what kind of novel is this? Western? Adventure?

Leo Guild is an aging bounty hunter on the trail of a man named Kriker. While on the trail, he understands that the law is not always right, and that right and the law do not agree. Through the mountains, he and his quarry lead/track each other while striving to survive or thrive.

This is not just a western, it is an Ed Gorman novel that happens to take place in the west. Another author, Johnny D Boggs just happens to write this well, which places Mr Gorman in good company.

There is mystery, adventure, struggle against nature, and the inevitable moral conflict.

Death Ground rocks and would make a good film if and only if Gorman could script it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kay's Husband on December 19, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Edward Gorman retired from writing in the advertising industry after 20 years to become one of our better contemporary writers. Though he writes in other venues (horror and mystery) I prefer to read only his westerns.

Back in the 1980s I purchased all four of the Leo Guild novels in hardcover; GUILD, DEATH GROUND, BLOOD GAME, and DARK TRAIL; these are the only four novels in the Guild saga of which I am aware, while another in short story form exits.

Mr. Gorman stated once that Leo Guild is a fictional character in whom his father would have understood. That is reassuring to me as it gets me off the hook, for I do not always understand Leo Guild, ex-lawman now bounty hunter. Of all the characters invented by writer Gorman, Guild is my favorite. Though I think he is well developed in personality I think Mr. Gorman somewhat holds Guild back in growth and development. Guild the bounty hunter is always on the trail of bounty yet he never seems to rise above level of being insolvent. That continual flaw doesn't make much sense to me, for as most of us may be broke or down time-to-time, suffering as Guild does, most of us, as they say today, move on with our lives. There seems to be a time when Leo should just overcome. But that doesn't happen with the result of Leo being continually a misfit wherever he goes.

This present novel finds Leo Guild again at age 54 confessing his past errors to a priest, though Guild is not of the Catholic faith; while setting out on the trail of 3 bank robbers hoping to find share in a promised $1000.00 reward. However nothing is ever easy for Guild and no matter the end-of-trail his demons seem always to continue to ride on his shoulders.

I suppose some readers might not find the Leo Guild character interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greg Barth on October 25, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Death Ground Ed Gorman works his magic on many levels. On the surface, this is one of the most satisfying westerns I have read in some time. Leo Guild is hired to ride after a very bad man wanted for murder and making off with a couple of sackfuls of stolen money. To complicate things, the men he rides with are worse than the man he is after. The characters are intriguing and there is plenty of action and gun fighting.

On a deeper level Gorman captures the human condition. This story is about a group of lost souls seeking hope. You have a prostitute that is not really a prostitute, a sheriff that should have been a business man, a priest that is not really a priest, a daughter that is not really a daughter, and a bounty hunter that is both plagued with guilt from his own actions and seeking justice for the actions of others; and all are caught up in their own existential angst. Each character encounters a desperate moment, and Gorman displays his genius in showing how each responds. In the midst of it all is a silent angel that shines with hope like a lone glimmering diamond in darkness. Whether or not hope prevails is up to you to decide in the end, and I do not want to give too much away. If you are looking for a short western adventure that you can't put down and one you will think about long after finishing, Gorman's Death Ground is for you.
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Death Ground (Thorndike Western I)
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