When he wanted to take a break from Tarzan and Barsoom, ERB would occasionally try a Western. The Bandit of Hell’s Bend is one such. The theme is the classic one of stuffed shirt Easterners vs. Robust Westerners (a theme that I daresay underlies much if not most of ERB’s fiction). The foreman of the Slash Y ranch is Bull, a laconic and steady cowpoke in the traditional mode. But the Slash Y and its heiress, Diana Henders, must endure quite a bit before Bull’s finer characteristics are fully manifest. The dashing young cowpoke Colby seems to be the kind of vigorous man to save the ranch as outlaws and Apaches besiege it. Waiting in the wings to take over the Slash Y are a bumptious Yankee industrialist and Diana’s Eastern relations.
Hell’s Bend falls into the typical ERB silent hero, sterling heroine, & big misunderstanding plot category. While nowhere near as innovative as the pair of Apache Westerns ERB wrote (Apache Devil and The War Chief), Hell’s Bend is a decent old-school horse opera.