Gun-for-hire Edge, a drifter and loner with his own fractured moral code, finds himself in the middle of a bloody feud between a small town and some only slightly settled Indians in George G. Gilman's Red Fury.
I have been reading a lot of Gold Medal paperbacks from the 60s and 70s and frequently saw Gilman's Edge series, billed as "the most violent Westerns in print," advertised in the back. I found a handful at a flea market and grabbed this one at random. This volume was from deep in the series and one can only surmise features an older, more reflective Edge, as it was not so much violent as rather unpleasant. There are lots of murders, rapes, some incest and torture, and a notable scene where Edge holds a straight razor to a pregnant woman's stomach to escape.
A little googling shows that Gilman has a legion of fans, but I found his work a curiosity; the result of a British writer penning stories of the American West after apparently watching a lot of Italian Western films. On the covers Edge looks like Charles Bronson, and on the inside pages has the mean streak of Lee Van Cleef and the dry wit of Clint Eastwood. In fact each chapter strains to end, rather painfully at times, on some sort of pun or quip, as odd a conceit as I've seen.
I feel I should give Edge another try but won't be rushing back into my swap meet stash anytime soon.