Literature: Ben Snow

The Ben Snow series by Edward D. Hoch is a series of American Old West mysteries set around the turn of the 20th century. Like the Dr. Sam Hawthorne series by the same author, these tales are carefully researched historical pieces, sometimes including real historical characters such as Butch Cassidy. He met another Hoch character, Sam Hawthorne, in "The Problem of the Haunted Teepee".

The first Ben Snow series appeared in 1961 in The Saint Mystery Magazine; the series has since been continued in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

The Ben Snow stories feature examples of:

  • Amateur Sleuth: Ben is a cowboy drifter in the old west who discovers and solves mysteries.
  • Animal Assassin: A snake in the story Suddenly, with Fangs. Subverted in that the snake wasn't that interested in attacking, and the intended victim ended up using it on the assassin.
  • Bandito: In the story "The Trail of the Golden Cross", Ben fights to protect the cross from the bandito Zanja who turns out to be a gringo and his gang.
  • Circuit Judge: Ben is hired to protect one of these in "Dagger Money"
  • The Drifter: Ben is a wandering cowhand looking for work who keeps stumbling into mysteries. It doesn't help that he is sometimes mistaken for Billy the Kid.
  • Headless Horseman: In the story "The Headless Horseman of Buffalo Creek", Ben investigates a local legend of a headless horseman and uncovers a brutal murder.
  • Pocket Protector: In the short story "The Trail of the Golden Cross", Ben is saved from being shot in the back when the bullet deflects off the cross, which he had concealed by hiding it in the small of his back under his shirt.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: In "The Trail of the Golden Cross", the Mexican Bandito Zanja turns out to really be a white man named Cole Fosse; Zanja and Fosse being the Spanish and French, respectively, for 'ditch'.