Clarence Scott Boyles, Jr.(1909-1995) wrote under the pseudonym of Will C. Brown. He was born in Baird, Texas of cattle raising families on both sides. A newspaper journalist, he published several stories in the pulps before WWII and began his writing in earnest after his discharge from the Marine Corps after the war. THE BORDER JUMPERS in 1955 was his first novel and it was received well, winning the Dell Book Award for best western of 1955. His novel THE NAMELESS BREED won the Golden Spur Award from the Western Writers of America as best novel in 1961.
Now to the novel.
Lincoln Jones was on his way to Fort Worth to hire a teacher for the people of the Odessa region of west Texas. The area had tamed down and families were settling there. Lincon and his wife Lucy had a couple themselves. He took the stage to the small town of Crosscut, there to catch the train for the trip to Fort Worth.
That’s where his troubles began.
Chatted up while waiting by a gambler named Beasley, he attracted the notice of the town Marshall who thought his face looked familiar, though he couldn’t quite place it. Link just wanted to get on the train and get out of there. he knew why he looked familiar to the lawman.
His next turn of trouble came while the train was on a wood stop. Link and Beasley were toting the wood, along with other male passengers, when the outlaw band attacked. Link was exasperated because his gun belt was in his valise with the money belt of $600.00 at Lucy’s insistence. Civilized men did not wear guns in town. Beasley had a small pistol which Link appropriated to help the express car guard. However the man, nervous, was shooting at anything that moved. The gang was driven off and the train takes off before they can regroup.
Link and Beasley, along with a saloon singer named Billie Ellis, who’d went for a walk while the wood was being loaded, were left behind.
Alone, afoot, a cold night approaching, with two town people in tow, Link knows shelter needs to be found soon. And he knows of only one place to go. An old line shack he remembered from his youth as a place the old Dock Tobin gang had hid out briefly after an operation.
Dock Tobin was his uncle, a man who owned a ranch in Mexico, a man who often led his gang across the border, when money was short, for his criminal forays. Orphaned while a young teenager, Link had been sent to live with his uncle. He hated it and the criminal stuff his family engaged in. his mother had fled that at an early age and married. Link was the horse minder, never engaging in the robberies and murders. He fled that as well when he got the chance and headed west for a life away from his vicious family.
His third bit of bad luck came next. he’d hoped someone had taken residence in the old shack and that they might be given food and shelter. Someone had. The Dock Tobin gang on another of their expeditions for money. they had been the ones who’d hit the train.
Old Dock was half blind now and all crazy. His very nasty cousins Claude and Coaley were there as well. the rest of the gang was all new.
THE BORDER JUMPERS was made into a film I covered here that starred Gary Cooper as Lincoln Jones. Cooper’s character was twice the age of the one in the book. Understandable. The plot of the film followed the novel pretty much straight up until the final third, a few scenes were shifted around, otherwise, even down to the dialogue it was close. That last third, the showdown, was considerably different, though surprisingly close. That might not make sense, but is true.
My copy of the book is a large print hardcover edition from Great Britain published in 1996 by Chivers Press/G. K. Hall & Co.