Piano Man by Bill Crider from On Dangerous Ground: Stories of Western Noir

On Dangerous Ground Ed Gorman Dave Zeltserman Martin H. Greenberg Cemetery DanceReviewed by Steve Weddle

COTTONWOOD by Scott Phillips. The stories from Edward A. Grainger. A little something here and there. I don’t read many westerns, but “Piano Bar” from Bill Crider shows me I should.

The setting is solid, not overdone. The character is spot on. A tired piano player who grew up playing hymns. Alcohol and mistakes sent him to playing in a bar, a brothel.

When a father gambles away his daughter to the bar’s owner, the piano player knows he should step in and help. But, of course, he doesn’t. And then things get worse when the father comes back to claim his daughter.

But the piano player knows he can’t put himself at risk, can’t jeopardize his life playing piano at the bar. Music is all he has. He can’t put that in danger. He’s not that kind of guy.

Then again, maybe he is.

And that’s when it all goes wrong.

Bill Crider’s “Piano Bar” has the sensibility and setting of a good western, but it has the touch of a great story.

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