To Ride the River With is a forgotten book by a forgotten author. William MacLeod Raine (1871-1954) was born in London and grew up on a cattle ranch in Texas. His youthful experiences in the west certainly had an influence on the many western stories he would write. He began publishing prior to World War I, and by the mid-1930s he was nearly as popular as Zane Grey. To Ride the River With was published in hardcover in 1936 by Grosset & Dunlap. The back cover advertises 23 of William MacLeod Raine’s “dashing novels of frontier life.” When Raine died in 1954 many of these books had been reprinted in paperback. I encountered these paperbacks much later, and so was introduced to him through such paperbacks as Gun Showdown and Texas Breed. I bought these paperbacks simply because I liked the covers. The fact that the stories were good was a bonus. In old cowboy lingo, “a man to ride the river with” was a man to be trusted in a pinch. In MacLeod’s novel, Jeff Gray is such a man, although he needs to prove himself amidst ambushes, kidnapping and murder. Raine’s writing is truculent, the characters believable. He is cut from the same cloth as Zane Grey, although without the poetic descriptions of nature that Zane Grey was so good at. Many of William MacLeod Raine’s books are available on Kindle, but for my money it’s a lot more fun tracking down both the originals and paperback copies.
|William MacLeod Raine|