Shocked and Appalled!
- Mar 13, 2016
The discussion of Steinbeck reminds me of my surprise as a kid when first reading Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op short stories (I think the collection The Big Knockover) some of which included horseback riding in the arroyos around (as I recall) San Francisco, or maybe somewhere between San Fran and L.A. It's hard to believe now, but 100 years ago Southern California was still largely open plain or desert, that L.A. was really desert area -- the water rights issues in the film Chinatown were really issues there.
Anyway, it momentarily took me out of the story when the chubby, gruff Op mounted a horse to investigate a crime. And I think you see some of that Western feel again in Hammett's first novel, Red Harvest. Craig Johnson's recent Walt Longmire mysteries sort of complete the cycle.
And I would similarly point out that a couple of Rex Stout's books (he was the author of the Nero Wolfe series, along with a few other things) also involved western settings.