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.