Thursday, June 08, 2023

Wyoming Thunder: A Larry & Streak Western


Wyoming Thunder: A Larry & Streak Western, by Marshall McCoy, Bantam, 86 pages, 1968.

So, Marshall McCoy is Marshall Grover is Leonard Meares. Leonard Meares (1921-1993) was an Australian writer who is listed as the author of 700 + novels, although—to be clear—most of these are generally of novella length. As you can see, Wyoming Thunder clocked in at 86 pages. In addition to McCoy and Grover, Meares also used the names Ward Brennan and Glenn Murrell, and occasionally Brett Waring and Shad Denver, as well as writing works under his own name. He apparently wrote over 400 in the Larry & Stretch series. It looks like many were written for a western magazine, thus explaining the shorter length. He also wrote about 60 in another series called Big Jim, although there could be more. He also did standalones. To add to the confusion, his books have been reprinted in other countries and languages, and sometimes with different author names and even character names.

So why is the title of this particular book called “Larry & Streak” instead of Larry and Stretch? Therein lies a short tale. In Australia, the original characters were Larry Valentine and Stretch Emerson. When some of these books were reprinted by Bantam in the United States, the names were changed to Larry Vance and Streak Everett. I don’t know why, although it might possibly have to do with different copyright laws and publishing house rules in the two countries. (In Sweden, the character names were Bill and Ben.)

Under any names, Larry and Stretch are a couple of charming rogues. They are variously referred to as the Texas Hellions and the Tornado Twins. They stumble into trouble despite their best intentions, which they then generally handle with aplomb. They make a good team.

How did I like the book? Well, I’m giving it 3 stars, which is not a bad rating. I enjoyed the book. It was leisurely paced by today’s standards, without a whole lot of action except at the beginning and end. Larry and Streak take on the job of finding a doctor for a woman about to have a baby, and they end up having to break said doctor out of jail where he’s being held on a murder charge. Definitely an interesting plot.

I’d previously read another book by Meares, one of his Big Jim books. I liked the Larry and Streak characters better and the overall package was more fun for me. I’ve also discovered that there are some very dedicated fans out there for Meares work and there’s a facebook page dedicated to his Larry and Stretch series. His books are not easy to find, and the copies of the ones I have are beaten up pretty badly from time and reading. I’m hearing that there aren’t any digital copies available. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

Overall, I can see the charm in this series and am glad I gave one a try.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Really interesting they changed the names.