Title: Summer of the Smoke
Author: Luke Short
Cover artist: Uncredited (but there appear to be initials under the rider's right foot)
Best things about this cover:
Well, they can't all be gems. Still...
- "Summer of the Smoke" sounds like the title of a movie about teenagers experimenting with marijuana in the 1970s.
- Is that the smoke, there, rising from just below the horse's nose. I'm supposed to believe that an entire summer was named for that paltry thread?
- The cover design is weirdly segmented, like it was designed by Piet Mondrian.
- This cover painting looks familiar ... where have I seen this scene before?
Yes, that's it. They've even got the same mustache!
Luke Short is one of the most popular western writers of the 20th century, and from what I can tell, he was pretty competent. This is a PBO (paperback original), which means that it came out originally in paperback (very rare these days, though reasonably common in the 50s). Look how excited the publishers are to tell you that this book is in print for the first time: they even brought out the whimsical excited handwriting font: "First time published anywhere!"
The fact that it's a Luke Short PBO is probably the only reason I bought this book, and I probably didn't pay more than a buck for it. The unusual segmented cover design made it desirable to me as well. Though I've featured many westerns so far from my collection, don't get the wrong idea: I don't really care for westerns, and westerns make up only a small fraction of the collection as a whole. We're simply in a particularly cowboy-ish patch right now.