Taggart was published in April 1959. Like many of his early 1950s novels, it was based on a short story, this one being ‘Trap of Gold’ (Argosy magazine, 1951).The original story featured Wetherton, searching for gold in the desert. He has to fight the rock where he discovers a rich vein and his own greed to bring home the treasure to his wife and son.
The book Taggart naturally has more depth. Now it’s Adam Stark who finds the gold, in Apache territory, and living with him under the constant threat of discovery are his wife Consuelo and his sister Miriam. Into this mix comes Taggart, on the run for a crime he didn’t commit. Tracking Taggart is a lawman, bounty-hunter. And nearby, some two dozen Apache…
The conflict between the women, the men and the Apache is told well, even if L’Amour often slips from one point of view to another at the drop of a bullet or two. Both Taggart and Stark are your typical strong, honest men. Miriam is the strong woman and love interest. Consuelo is ambivalent about her marriage, trying to grasp dreams with a hand of open fingers instead of clasping what she has to her heart.
If you want a smooth, fast-paced read, this is guaranteed to deliver. The book was filmed as Taggart in 1964, featuring the film debut of David Carradine, with a screenplay that clearly departs from the book.
'Hazard' by Nik Morton is featured in Livin' on Jacks and Queens, an e-book anthology edited by Robert J. Randisi, which can be purchased here