Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Law and Jake Wade by Marvin H. Albert

The Law and Jake Wade (1958) starring Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark is one of my favorite western films. I never read the book it was based on until this past summer when I found a paperback copy at a flea market in northern Wisconsin. The film is generally faithful to the book with only minor differences. The snowstorm is diminished in the film, and a few other elements are missing or altered, but the filmmakers followed the same plot. A key scene where the gun was buried with some loot, leading to speculation that it might not fire because it sat in the ground that long, made it into the film to good effect. The Law and Jake Wade is very well written in a terse, unblemished style. There are no poetic flourishes; nor are any needed. Author Marvin H. Albert wrote a fine book. It is simply a hardboiled western, short and perfunctory. It is far better than some other western paperbacks published during the same period, but still not quite in the same league as Louis L’Amour who was right at the cusp of becoming America’s favorite western storyteller. Jake Wade is a lawman with a crooked past that catches up with him when one of his old gang members show up to claim the cash from their last heist. Wade had buried the loot, and they set out to retrieve it in methodical fashion. The Law and Jake Wade was published as a Gold Medal paperback original in 1956, and reprinted in 1958 to capitalize on the film. That’s the edition I own, the second paperback edition. Albert reportedly wrote over 100 books before his death in 1996. Many of these were under pseudonyms Tony Rome, Nick Quarry, Ian MacAlister and Al Conroy. Titles included thrillers like The Chiselers, Nice Guys Finish Dead, The Looters, Trail of a Tramp and Miami Mayhem. I have a few of these somewhere in a box and perhaps at a later date I’ll pull a few out to review them here.


  1. His P.I., books made into the movies Tony Rome and The Lady in Cement starring Frank Sinatra.

    1. Thanks Robert, I remember reviewing your first Rat Pack thriller for Mystery News some time back. Had to retype this post cuz my fingers got all tangled up - I hope all is well with you!


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