Brett Rawlins is a very young man who discovers his father, supposedly a suicide, a short time after his mother’s death. He is left with attempting to make a go of the Wyoming ranch that was his father’s dream. Picnicking with the girl he thought would be his bride eventually, he is shot and tumbles into a ravine where he is left for dead by gunmen who work for the expanding cattle baron who wants his ranch. He somehow survives, is nursed back to health by Lisa, part of a Mormon family living some distance away. He recovers and leaves to save Allie from the gunmen only to discover that she was part of the plan to do away with him. From this point the story evolves into his attempts to regain his ranch by any means he can devise and is helped constantly by Crow Indian Chief Red Elk and a Cheyenne/Crow Princess, Mourning Song. She is one of a group of Indian maidens whom he saves after they had been kidnapped by men working for the same employer as the gunmen who thought they had killed Brett. After numerous poorly thought-out attempts to nullify the plans of the viscous cattle baron, he finally discovers that his only recourse is to personally face him and his henchmen in a showdown.
Discussion: The author has set forth an interesting enough plot that regrettably from this reader’s perspective, has been peopled with characters with whom it is difficult to empathize. Little is offered with respect to Allie and her brief appearances and similarly Lisa. Mourning Song presents a rather enigmatic picture but some of her activity does not quite exemplify that of a Cheyenne/Crow woman, especially of her purported status. Red Elk, although briefly described, is of considerable interest but the rest of the characters are rather shadow-like. The Mormons are portrayed to exhibit all of the better qualities espoused by members of that religion, but their total surprise by, and quiet acceptance of the cattle baron’s brutality are difficult to accept with the amount of violence already absorbed and also delivered by members of their sect during that particularly chaotic period in history. With respect to the protagonist, it is granted that he is young. However, this reader’s reaction to his inability to think clearly or to devise plans other than those requiring him most frequently to be saved by circumstances and/or by others, is disappointingly irritating.
Summary: A chaotic historical era and place woven into an interesting fictional tale that, regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, could have been enhanced by a little more thought with respect to the matters mentioned.
3* Reviewer’s thoughts on interesting tale of a chaotic time in history.