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The Mark Inside

Shadow Killers.

PI Cole Braddock goes to see Lou Blonger when he needs a favor and needs it bad.

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When using search engines, you don't need to restrict yourself to simple misspellings like "Blanger." You can also try really bad misspellings like "Blomger." And if you try "Blomger," you will discover the fantastic world of Western fiction writer Matt Braun, who's written 56 books in his long career, at least four of which include Sam and Lou Blomger, yes Blomger, as minor characters.

Shadow Killers

Let's open to Chapter Three of Braun's 2000 release and take a peek:

Lou Blomger sat behind a massive walnut desk. He was a man of considerable bulk, with a rounded paunch and sagging jowls. His hair was flecked with gray and his eyes were deceptively humorous. His handshake was perfunctory, but he seemed genuinely pleased by the unexpected visit. He motioned Braddock to a chair.
"Have a seat, Cole. You ought to drop around more often."
"Well, you know how it is, Lou. No rest for the weary."
Blomger chuckled. "I know the feeling all too well. What can I do for you?"
"It's personal."
"Pay no mind to Slats. He's deaf and dumb where my affairs are concerned."
"No offense, but this time..." Braddock shrugged.
Blomger regarded him thoughtfully. After a moment, he glanced across to Drago. "Wait outside, Slats. I'll call if I need you."
Drago shot Braddock a dirty look. Then he opened the door and stepped into the hallway. When the latch clicked, Blomger slowly shook his head. "I think you hurt Slats's feelings. He considers himself a professional."

Not being a big reader of fiction, or for that matter of Western history until our discovery of Lou Blonger in 2003, I was unfamiliar with Mr. Braun. His site notes that:

"His novels are written with a passion for historical authenticity and realism, and based on actual incidents. Dee Brown, the noted historian and author, commented on his work: 'Matt Braun has a genius for taking real characters out of the Old West and giving them flesh-and-blood immediacy.'"

-SJ


Later, Braddock goes to Lou for a favor, seeking a connection to the "Santa Fe Gang."

Whores and crooked gambling dens, even bunco games, were condoned by Blomger. Still, he drew the line at spilling citizens' blood or forcibly separating them from their wallets. He declared that any man who stepped over that line would be judged an outlaw even among his own kind. With his rise to power, peace had settled over Denver. The public viewed the Tenderloin as a tawdry playground, and the rackets operated with blissful tranquility. Gunslingers, highwaymen, and thieves were welcome for as long as they had cared to sample the delights of Denver's heady atmosphere. But only if they minded their manners and weren't tempted to molest the local residents. Otherwise they were found floating facedown in Cherry Creek.

He earlier says of "Blomger's enforcers" that they were "skilled at performing neat, workmanlike executions."

We have heard that Lou had goons. We have heard insinuations of murder, threats of murder, and documented instances of beatings. But not even his nemesis, Col. Van Cise, has ever, to our knowledge accused Lou Blonger of complicity in a particular murder.

Deadwood

When I first began thinking about Lou and his so-called influence, I wondered if a man could be king of the underworld — any underworld — without the capacity, and demonstrably so, for mortal violence. Has it ever been otherwise? But the evidence hasn't shown up. Consider that at the time of Lou's arrest in 1922, there were no bodyguards to hamper Van Cise or his agents in their investigation. On the other hand, If Lou needed something done, he could surely command the muscle to do it.

Braun goes on to describe Lou's hold on Denver, noting that "Blomger owned city hall and the courthouse, and his name was spoken with reverence in the halls of the state capitol. His influence, however insidiously, extended to every level of government." I do believe Mr. Braun has done his homework. Maybe he can teach us a thing or two.

Lou also makes appearances in two of the Luke Starbuck mysteries, Deadwood and The Judas Tree, as always, the King of the Tenderloin.

-CJ



 

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