It’s 1876, Dan Ryan, formerly of Custer’s 7th Cavalry, is leading a party of prospectors to the Black Hills – Sioux territory – where gold was discovered two years before. Although off-limits to whites, the region is overrun by so many fortune-seekers that the U.S. Army is powerless to stop them. Besides, what’s a paper treaty worth next to gold-rich land?
In nearby Deadwood, men raise hell all night after prospecting all day. An outlaw town with no right to exist on Indian land, Deadwood is a lawless cesspool where those who strike it rich can lose everything – including their lives. Possibly the meanest man in the Dakotas, Al Swearengen sells liquor that can poison a man when gold is involved. And now, even Calamity Jane and the legendary Wild Bill Hickok – losing his eyesight but still finding trouble – are coming to stake their claim.
Dan Ryan is going to have to fend off roaming gunmen, angry Sioux, ruthless gamblers, whores and thieving prospectors in order to protect his claim, because in the Badlands of Deadwood, trouble always comes at you from behind…
The author introduces a whole lot of characters, both real and fictional, that will form new relationships and destroy others and this was one of the elements of the story that kept me glued to the pages. There are many incidents that befall these people such as drinking some of Swearengen’s potent whiskey and suffering from doing so. There’s falling in love and losing one’s virginity to deal with too. Calamity Jane’s pursuit of Hickok and his attempts to avoid her add some humour to the tale. There’s plenty of gunplay and fistfights, twisting schemes, suspense and a mysterious relationship that’ll hook you into the story along with seeing how the characters deal with the news of the massacre of Custer and the 7th Cavalry.
If you like the television series Deadwood, starring Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane you’ll want to read this book. Even though the books aren’t tied into the TV series in any way, they both share a number of characters, as many of the people were real. The author also includes others than those mentioned above, such as Charley Utter and Buffalo Bill Cody. Characters such as Swearengen only make brief appearances, thus distancing the book from the TV series and in my opinion doing this was an excellent decision by the author. Like the television show, the book does have its fair share of bad language, but nowhere near as much as the TV series, and it also contains some fairly explicit sex scenes.
The pacing of the book is superb and the author, James Reasoner writing as Mike Jameson, certainly knows how to create characters you’ll want to read more about. As you get deeper into the story it soon becomes clear that the author has introduced a number of plotlines that will continue further into the series and I, for one, am eager to find out what happens with these so I will be picking up book two very soon because if it’s anywhere near as good as this book I know I’ll be in for an exciting read.