OUTLAW WEST OF THE PECOS
Publisher: Wolfpack Publishing
Date of Publication: January 4, 2022
Number of Pages: 228 pages
Accused of cheating at cards on a Southern Pacific passenger train in far West Texas, H.H. Lomax is kicked off the train and finds himself at the mercy of the unpredictable justice of Judge Roy Bean, who calls himself “Law West of the Pecos.” After being fined of all his money, married, and divorced by the judge in a matter of minutes, Lomax discovers an unlikely connection to him.
Against a backdrop of a pending world heavyweight championship bout, Lomax heads to El Paso to interest someone in writing and publishing Bean’s biography. He winds up in an El Paso boarding house across the hall from Texas killer John Wesley Hardin. They despise each other, but Hardin fears Lomax’s straight-arrow Texas Ranger brother and treads lightly around Lomax. Because of Hardin’s crooked connections in El Paso, Lomax gets caught between him and corrupt constable John Selman.
El Paso is becoming the focal point of efforts to host a championship prizefight that everyone from the Presidents of the United States and Mexico to the governors of Texas, New Mexico Territory and Chihuahua have vowed to stop. Calling on his connections to his Ranger brother, El Paso officials and the promoter of the boxing match, Lomax uses his Judge Roy Bean friendship to pull off the oddest prizefight in heavyweight history.
Outlaw West of the Pecos stands as an entertaining mix of historical and hysterical fiction.
Clueless Gent’s Rating for Outlaw West of the Pecos
Outlaw West of the Pecos is a wonderfully written testament to one of the cagiest characters of the Old West you’d ever come across: H.H. Lomax. This is the seventh offering into the adventures of said Lomax from author Preston Lewis. I seem to enjoy each book more than the one before, and that was certainly the case with Outlaw West of the Pecos.
Lomax has a reputation for rubbing elbows with some of history’s most colorful celebrities of that era. In this adventure, Lomax meets Judge Roy Bean – Law West of the Pecos – as well as the dastardly John Wesley Hardin.
This episode of Lomax’s life is set in El Paso and Langtry, Texas – Judge Roy Bean’s town. Lomax had been in Texas before, and he didn’t have a very high opinion of it. As Lomax put it, “Bad things always found me anytime I passed through that godforsaken country people called Texas.” This story certainly embraced that anecdote.
After getting caught cheating at cards, Lomax is handed over to Judge Roy Bean for some Texas-style justice. Bean strips Lomax naked and marches him through town, the theory being that naked men don’t need shackles. Once Bean gets Lomax in his saloon courthouse, he proceeds to fine Lomax for every bit of money he has.
After serving his “sentence,” Bean tells Lomax that he wants someone to write and publish his biography. Lomax claims to know a bit about publishing, so Bean sends him to El Paso to find a writer and publisher. Once Lomax gets off the train in El Paso, he manages to get involved in one calamity after another.
“I figured I’d spend eternity buried in a local cemetery, though hell would be an improvement and likely cooler than El Paso.”
One thing I’ve enjoyed about these H.H. Lomax stories is the cast of characters. I don’t know if these characters actually exist in Lomax’s memoirs or if the author conjured them. It does’t matter to me either way. However, each character seems to serve a special purpose and sometimes brings out a personality trait that might otherwise go unnoticed. For example, in this story Lomax rents a room in El Paso. The landlord is a Christian woman who tries to run a respectable accommodation. Lomax is very gentle with her, and he even reads bible verses with her on occasion.
Another such character is Lomax’s brother, Texas Ranger Andy Lomax. They meet by chance in El Paso, after not seeing each other for many years. Andy is highly respected by everyone and is known as an honest lawman. Their interaction brings to light some of Lomax’s origins, as well as anecdotal references to how Lomax came to be the person that he his.
Author Preston Lewis is always spot on with his description, especially when it’s coming out of the mind of H.H. Lomax. This is how Lomax described the countryside heading into Langtry: “Dry arroyos snaked between rocky hills peppered with prickly pear, juniper, and mesquite. Ugly as the desolate countryside was, I doubted a tree stout enough to hang a man stood within a hundred miles of me. I liked that.”
Something else I love about these H.H. Lomax stories is the humor. It’s plentiful! For example, when Bean tries to clean up Lomax for his trial, he has to remove some grease from Lomax’s face. Ingeniously, Bean smears Lomax’s face with honey and puts him inside the cage with Bean’s pet bear. The bear licks Lomax’s face until every wisp of honey – and the grease – is gone.
Starting early in the story, there is talk about an upcoming boxing match between two heavyweight champs. Most people seem to want the fight, but the government does not want it. That goes back and forth until it becomes the main storyline heading into the climax. The funny thing is, after all the hype and bickering, it all comes down to an idea Lomax has that may ultimately decide whether this match takes place.
The pacing moves along about as fast (or slow – depending on your perspective) as Lomax’s other stories. It does seem to speed up as the potential boxing match nears. Considering the character arc for the main character, all I can say is Lomax is Lomax at the beginning of the story, and Lomax is Lomax at the end of the story. That about sums it up.
This is a quick read, and it completely captures the reader’s interest. It seems that after Lomax gets cleared of one debacle, the reader never has to wait long for another one to begin.
This is my go-to series for life and humor in the Old West!
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