Monday, September 02, 2013
Sons and Gunslicks
Something I always enjoy is a skillfully written cross-genre novel. Chap O'Keefe's novel Sons and Gunslicks is a Western/Mystery that manages to hit the right notes in both genres.
It starts off like a private eye novel, with former Pinkerton detective Joshua Dillard being hired by "Big" Jack Greatheart (A former town tamer lawman himself, now felled by illness) to find Jack's missing daughter, Emily.
Emily had traveled to Arizona to meet the family of the man she had planned to marry after her fiance had been killed in a gun fight by the son of a rival rancher. She had disappeared after leaving the ranch of her not quite in-laws and only her bloodstained jacket had been found on the wagon she had rented.
Dillard finds a cold trail and hot lead waiting for him in Arizona as he tries to find out the fate of the girl. He'll buck an ineffectual sheriff, a power mad rancher, and a host of hired guns. There are enough gunfights, horse chases, bushwhackers, and other Western tropes to satisfy any fan, plus clues, red herrings, and suspects to make mystery readers happy.
Dillard himself is a great character, almost a frontier Mike Hammer, who doesn't take crap off of anyone and isn't above beating up thugs for information when ratiocination fails. He's also a standup guy who's looking out for those who can't look after themselves, The classic tough/tender sleuth in a stetson and duster.
As you can probably tell I had a lot of fun with this book. I downloaded it for my Kindle and read it in a sitting, and I'll be reading another Joshua Dillard adventure soon.