Beginning his career as a radio writer (rising to become head writer of Little Orphan Annie, of all things), Keene began publishing crime stories in the pulps in the early 40s before turning to prose full time.
Mostly a writer of crime and mystery stories, he co-wrote at least one sci-fi novel (which I've avoided, due to the ridiculous, and sadly of its time, premise), but I recently discovered he also published, shortly before the end of his life, a western novel.
Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to the potential of the premise. I've definitely read worse novels--I've even read worse Keene novels--but it isn't all that great, either. It's certainly an okay read, but it seems less like a western and more something reworked from another genre. For one thing, the dialogue is too modern and many of the interactions in it feel misplaced, as if they were excised from some other work and dropped into it. It just doesn't feel like a western.
There are some technical issues, as well, that I know probably came from gleaning knowledge of the west from other westerns, rather than doing any research (common in western fiction, unfortunately). Another thing that bothered me, and I know some would call this nitpicking, but it took me out of the flow of the story it was so jarring: the cost of things are insanely inflated for 1869. Cowhands being paid $100 a month, ranches that cost $160,000, horses valued at thousands of dollars each. Those are 1967 costs, when the novel was published, not 1869.
As a novel, it's not great, but it was interesting to see a writer I enjoy try his hand at something different. Towards the last years of his life, Keene tried many different things and some of them worked out quite well. For example, his very unusual crime novel Joy House not only sold very well, it was adapted into a very successful film. Was GUNS ALONG THE BRAZOS (they never even come close to the Brazos River, by the way), another one of these experiments? Did Keene simply want to try writing a western? We'll probably never know, but I'm still glad I gave it a try, even if I can't recommend it.