13 Mar 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: The aging town marshall John Walker is drawn from his comfortable near retirement in a small town in rural Wyoming to try and solve a shocking murder. Racing against time to prevent a border dispute, between two local cattle barons, from turning into a full blown range war, he attempts to tread the grey line between peace keeper and law enforcer.

Set in 1880, this powerfully gripping tale of love, family and rivalry will drag you into the bleak reality of the 'wild' West. Brilliantly interweaving history and adventure to create new, believable historical fiction. 

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: He rides slowly towards the town, quiet, purposeful, menacing, eyes never still as he scans his surroundings.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 136}: He looks across the slopping mud, dispassionately watching as the town's run off ditch overflows, turning the main street into a miniature river. Something overrides his morose contemplation, a sound from behind, unthinkingly he spins and crouches, one hand reaching for his pistol.

MY THOUGHTS: A debut novel. Some way removed from the 'Cowboys and Indians' so loved by my late granddad and yet not enough so that it was totally unrecognisable. 

Feeling more authentic than the 'Westerns' of old. Yes, there is more of a storyline, the characters are more defined, the author going some way to get away from the image of two professional gunslingers facing each other down a dusty 'street', of the bar fight in which you are guaranteed some cowboy or other will come sailing through the doors of a saloon. And yet still I feel there is no way of getting past the fact that here is a story that, despite the authors efforts, will probably appeal more to men than women.

Powerfully descriptive, graphically violent but not what I thought of as overly gratuitous. The author does a great job in setting the scene, painting a vividly gritty picture in which an ageing marshal, John Walker, a veteran of a 'Indian war' some fifteen years past, finds himself the centre of a feud between landowners, the Mayweather and Baxter families. A feud made all the more complex by the fact that Walker is betrothed to Mayweather daughter, Belle.

My favourite aspect of the novel, and, in my opinion, the main thing to set it apart from many others of its genre, I found myself really liking Belle. Mentally strong, in many ways physically tough and yet at the same time merely grateful that in Walker, a man 'who may not beat her', she had 'at least chosen someone who is honourable and hard working'. Its however sad to say that without exception the rest of the female characters (of whom there aren't many), though perhaps of their time and place, weren't so well written.

And therein lies my difficulty. Ultimately a novel I enjoyed much more than I thought I would but, far stronger on plot than characterisation, I personally felt that it could have benefited from being that much longer, the characters that bit more padded out. 

Still, ending, if not exactly on a cliff-hanger, wide-open to a sequel, I'm hoping we hear more of Christopher Cain.


Mary (Bookfan) said...

Loved your review - piqued my interest, for sure!

Kelly said...

This does sound good and I imagine I would enjoy it (and possibly my husband would, too), but I've read far too many "bleak" novels of late. Perhaps by the time there is a sequel, I'll be more in a mindset for something like this.

Brian Joseph said...

Great review Tracy.

Well written characters are important tome. With that, based upon your description, this sounds like a cut above the typical Western,

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Thanks for sharing! Belle does sound like a good character! I'm not sure this would be a good fit for me overall though.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Westerns were a genre that I can remember my dad reading a lot of, back in my childhood days of book borrowing from the library, although I haven't seen him pick one up for many years now, as he prefers his murder / mysteries and thrillers, these days.

I think the fact that the ending seems to have been a bit less than satisfactory, would put me off straight away and I have to say, tha a three star Goodreads review coming from you, doesn't really inspire me to pick this one up myself.

I was surprised at the age of the author, when I managed to track him down, I had thought he was going to be much older. Also, the diversity of titles he has written and the less than brilliant ratings and reviews he has received for any of them, would indicate to me, that perhaps he hasn't quite found his niche in the writing world yet.

You managed a well balanced review, which I think is probably the best this one deserves :)


Melliane said...

it's great to see that in the end it was better than you thought

chris said...

Tracy, my thanks for the review!

Yvonne@fiction-books - This was my debut novel. I'm not sure which author you found, but it wasn't me!

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

Fab review, Tracy. It is a pity about the characterisation, it's a shame it's often left behind the plot because its often more important and at the least equally important. I've recently bypassed books for a similar reason.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Interesting, but I don't think this one is for me. I'm quite picky at my www genre and with only having one fairly well written female character doesn't bode well for me. I do think I'll pass, but at least you got some enjoyment out of it. :)

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I haven't read many Westerns- but this sounds interesting. I am glad you liked it more than you thought you would! That says something right there. :)

Suko said...

Lovely review of the author's debut! I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Tracy.

Literary Feline said...

I haven't really read any westerns. My dad read a lot of them, I remember. I am not sure what it is, but I would rather read about England during the same time period than the "Old West". This does sound interesting though. I might have to give it a try.

Gina R said...

Alas not one for my wish list but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the share!