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Tales of Wells Fargo was a television series starring Dale Robertson as Jim Hardie , an agent that investigated crimes against Wells Fargo and their businesses. Early in the show, he was strictly an investigator, later a ranch owner that worked part time for them. It ran from 1957-62, 167 half hour black and white episodes and the last season expanding to an hour with 44 color stories. It was created by Frank Gruber, one of three westerns he did for television(the other two being Lawman and Shotgun Slade).

The book TALES OF WELLS FARGO is a collection of eight short stories adapted by Gruber from early teleplays from the show. Four were his own written for the show and, of the other four, three were from stories by him, scripts by Steve Fisher. The last was solely by William Leicester.

They all featured some of the real characters that lived in the west. Jim Hardie, in the course of his investigations in these stories, encounters Billy The Kid, Lew Wallace, Belle Starr, Sam Bass, the Sundance Kid, and John Wesley Hardin. He ranges as far north as Montana, south to Lincoln County in New Mexico, poses as a peddler, outlaw, escaped convict, all to solve crimes and/or recover missing money stolen while under Wells Fargo supervision. He’s in town to testify at a robbery/murder trial, the only witness, while also looking for the man really behind it when Hardin rides into town.

I’ve become a fan of Gruber’s writing in the last year, having read his autobiography, THE PULP JUNGLE, and a number of his mysteries. This was his first western for me and everything has been a quick, fun read. I may have to find more of his westerns, not to mention other mysteries. (sigh) The TBR pile grows faster than I can whittle it down.

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