Morgan Kane: Without Mercy by Louis Masterson is the first book in this Western series, which was first published in 1971. The books have been issued in eBook format and has caught the eye of the film industry.
Morgan Kane has lost all his money in a game of poker in St. Louis. While he senses that the game was rigged, he can’t prove it, so he shrugs it off and heads back to Texas. However, the crooks who took his money also have a personal vendetta against the Ranger and use a beautiful woman as bait.
The gang leaves Kane to die alone in the desert, but our hero is saved, ironically, by buzzards flying above him.
Without Mercy is the first western I have read and it left me with a taste for more. I loved the character of Morgan Kane, an old world cowboy with the ethics and morality of a new world superhero. Mr. Kane even has his kryptonite – alcohol, gambling and, of course, women.
I liked that Morgan Kane is a flawed hero (but aren’t they all?). He is afraid of not being able to do his job (a Texas Ranger), and afraid of not being able to shoot after his hand has been shot. Kane smokes too much, drinks too much and gambles too much – but he takes life in stride.
Masterson shows how Kane’s fear and thoughts of revenge appear in unlikely places, much like real life when certain events, or smells, or words trigger unrelated emotions (or related only in your mind).
Kane struggles with many things. Nothing comes easy to him except, maybe, shooting. I found it hilarious that Kane is a chick magnet that simply cannot succeed in shaking women off of him. Everywhere he goes he has young women practically throwing themselves at him, Mind you, this was when getting a man was difficult, and single parents were unheard of unless one partner died.
He obviously reminded me of myself!
But I digress… this short book also introduces the reader to Charlie Katz, another Texas Ranger who seems to be one of the few true friends Kane has and helped shape Kane to be the man he is. The final gunfight (isn’t there always?) is written extremely well and made me want to read more of Morgan Kane’s adventures.