Gunfighter, The quest for Peace Dusty Saddle Publishing, an e-book copyright and written by John D. Fie, Jr.
This volume consists of 3 individual stories by the same author and assumed to be part of the Western Adventure Series. The lead story is that of the book’s title and follows this adventure of the protagonist of The Morgan Deerfield Western Saga. It portrays the attempt of Morgan to quit the life of a gunfighter and become a rancher with a life more in accord with that of a rancher of the era.
The second tale is “The Town Tamer Harmon Bidwell. The United States Marshal Western Series Book 4. It chronicles the problems of Cattlemen’s Crossing, a central point for buying and shipping cattle. It follows the activities of the protagonist, a judge and other lawmen as they must find, apprehend and or kill the man behind crocked cattle sales and his murderous henchmen.
The 3rd consists of introductory material from another of Fie’s books. The title is “Cattle Queen of The Pecos”. The story begins as two wandering cowhands suddenly become aware of Indian activity and aid a young girl to escape from Indian raiders who have killed her parents and brothers. Apparently, they were on the way to Texas where her father was to help his aging father to handle his large ranch. The tale stops as they are about to continue on the journey to get the little girl to her family.
Discussion: The author provides slightly different approaches to the old and well-worn western plots. They are well-written, nicely paced and have interesting characters who perform well.
4* Well-written, interestingly characterized, slightly ‘different’ westerns
Guns along the Weary River, an e-book listed as written by John D. Fie, Jr. in The Ben Culver Western Adventure Series Book 1.
The entire format presented here is confusing for a reader. This specific title provides a somewhat difficult to follow plot following the young son of a cattle baron who is killed by a bogus sheriff who actually is a criminal wanted in Waco Texas. A range war evolves that contains all of the confusion of these conflicts but the activities are poorly described and the ending is as much of a let-down as is the entire tale. This has utilized 74% of the book’s content, so this somewhat puzzling format then shunts the reader to “Will’s Revenge, The United States Bounty Hunter Western Adventures” with the remaining 26% spinning a tale with a most improbable beginning. SPOILER ALERT! A man is being hanged by a sizeable group of Banditos and saved by the arrival of a feminine bounty hunter who throws a hidden knife slicing the hangman’s rope and the two overcome the banditos with knives and brute force. Stretches in credibility are expected constantly, but eventually, like rubber bands, sometimes the stretch is just beyond limit.
2* Regrettably and perhaps 1* for the second tale.
Returning the Guns, assumed published, copyright and written by Troy Lawson.
Kirk DeWolf is on the outskirts of a small western town as a stagecoach is being held-up. He is unaffected until he hears a child scream which changes his attitude. He spurs his horse down the hill to find 5 bandits, all of whom he rapidly dispatches with head shots. The boy and an older man are the only passengers and thank him saying he should visit them when and if he gets to their town. The man, although previously a passenger, ascends to the driver’s seat (not an easy task for anyone unaccustomed to handling a stage coach team of horses or mules) and wheels toward home. Kirk does decide to visit the town because he has been on the trail for some time without stopping anywhere. He enters the local bar/hotel but finds it very unfriendly, refusing room, food or even to sell him a drink. It seems the town has been taken over by Remus, a particularly vicious renegade and his hired guns, and the townspeople are afraid to offer anything to strangers. As he leaves he encounters Adam, the young boy he saved, who invites him home for dinner. Here he meets the beautiful Emily, who’s older brother had been the boy’s father. He also had been the town’s sheriff who was killed by Remus. The story continues as Kirk attempts to save the town and its residents as he leads by example and attempts to rally support from the townspeople.
Discussion: Upon introduction, Kirk seems to be an avenging gun fighter drifting from town to town to rectify injustices. This opening impression quickly vanishes, however, from the fact that, although he guns down 5 bandits with remarkably well-placed head shots, it is pointed out that he still has 1 round left in his revolver. Any user of a single action pistol, especially of that era, knows that only rarely does one load such a weapon with a sixth round because of the danger in carrying the weapon with a round under the hammer. Furthermore, he re-holsters the weapon without immediately replacing the spent cartridges – a definite no-no for anyone not knowing when the weapon might again be needed and there is no indication that he has a second weapon. So he definitely is a drifter, albeit remarkably proficient with a gun, on the prod and no doubt carrying a memory or memories that tend to keep him moving.
Summary: Accepting the fact of who and what he is, western aficionados should enjoy this story.
4* Interesting tale of a gun-savvy drifter in the old west.
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.
Apache Jack: A Legend is Born. An e-book published by Brent Reilly via KDP, copyright and written by Brent Reilly.
This is a story of the period of strife in the American Southwest in the mid-nineteenth century among the Mexicans, the newly formed United States, the Texans (often referred to as Texicans) and the Indian nations of the area. It opens with excerpts from activities of the Miller family, led by their talented, charismatic, entrepreneurial patriarch. He convinces the Indian Tribal chiefs to aid him in fighting their hated Mexican enemies in a manner most beneficial to him, his family and their amassing of personal wealth and power throughout the Baja Peninsula, and what is now New Mexico, Arizona and parts of California. It begins before, continues during and after the Mexican War, the Gadsden Purchase and associated developments. It introduces Jack as a precocious child equally at home with Apaches and Caucasians and with both the good and bad talents of both. The child is introduced relatively late in the book where it sporadically refers to his activities through the age of seven. Thus, this volume largely seems to be an introduction to the next volume. To quote the author’s final lines: ”The war between Mexico and Apaches ended, but the war between and Apaches and Americans began. THE END OF PART I. NOW GO BUY THE SEQUEL!”
Discussion: As titled, the book’s purpose is to introduce a character, little of whom is presented in this initial production. It presents much repetitive description of construction efforts by the Millers as they work their way westward increasing the size of their power and wealth. Similarly, repetitive depictions of violent activity performed in a bloody time in a historically brutal era peopled by viscous individuals. If this offers appeal, this book is for you.
3* Should appeal to a particular type of reader.
A Bad Place to Die, A Tennessee Smith Western ISBN: 9780786042555 Pinnacle Books, a western by Easy Jackson.
Tennie is 18 years old, orphanage-raised and mistakenly is included in a group of mail order brides arriving in Broken Bit to be picked up by their prospective husbands. Her Ashton Granger arrives, they are married and head out to his nearby ranch. He is considerably older than expected but neat, the ranch is falling apart, his 3 sullen sons – Rusty 13, Lucas 10, Badger 6 do not want her. Unexpectedly a wagon appears at the ranch driven by Ben McNally accompanied by George Washington (Wash) Jones, an obvious gunfighter, on horseback. In the wagon is a man with an arrow in his abdomen that the town’s doctor is too drunk to remove. Tennie instantly finds Wash quite attractive while he explains it is too delicate a situation for him to try to remove and thought Granger might help. Ashton had been a surgeon in the war but ceased afterwards because he ‘had had enough’. He does remove it successfully and says the man must remain for several days to make sure there is no infection. Wash and Ben bunk outside and just shortly thereafter, Ashton’s heart stops and Tennie is a widow now responsible for the 3 boys according to law. During the following few days the wounded man is improving with Tennie’s care but Broken Bit’s mayor, accompanied by the town’s leading businessmen, arrive to inform her that Granger had taken out a mortgage that was due and she must pay it or leave. However, he suggested that they could appoint her Sheriff and she and the boys could live in that office that contained living quarters on the first floor with the Jail above. He explains that a woman in that position might help to tone down the violent nature of Broken Bit. She thanks him and they leave. Wash tells her to look through her husband’s papers and not to allow herself to be forced into signing anything and leaves. She and her newly acquired stepsons move into the jail quarters and from this most unusual beginning a most interesting tale begins to unfold with a number of fascinating characters and activities being added.
Discussion: The author has written a plot similar to others of the era but with a protagonist and twist that is most unusual for its early western setting. The characters are thoughtfully portrayed and the story moves along at a pace sufficient to stimulate enough intrigue that the reader feels almost compelled to see what eventually is going to happen to Tennie and her acquired brood. A caveat must be inserted for devotees of traditional ‘old westerns’ and some additional editing would have been helpful. However, if you are interested in reading an ‘appealing’ western with a charmingly portrayed protagonist and interesting supporting characters, you’re going to enjoy this one
5* Unusual western with a charmingly portrayed protagonist.