Monday, 14 July 2008

Bender's Boot

as by Mark Bannerman
A Black Horse Western from Hale, 2004

At a remote inn, Conrad McClure, becomes involved with an evil family and, in particular, the she-devil of a daughter who ensnares men in her murderous web of sensuality. McClure, like so many before him, is trapped. Local vigilantes storm the inn, intent on lynching the entire family. But the killers have fled, taking McClure with them. The evidence left buried in the adjacent orchard is totally damning: twelve bodies, naked and brutally mutilated, including a little girl who was clearly buried alive. But where have the murderers gone, and what is the fate of Conroy McClure?

Mark Bannerman (author Anthony Lewing) has come up with a really tough story here. Not just for it’s brutal storyline - based on a real family and events - but also for some of the themes it covers, such as incest. There is also a death near the end that will be hard for some readers to accept, shocking as it is, it does make for a powerful and memorable part of the book.

Bannerman includes a number of red-herrings that had me wondering as to the identity of one of the characters, then after making the reader believe in one thing throws in a twist to completely throw you off track.

The book begins in the present, goes back into the past – two and a half years before the beginning – before catching up to the present again.

For a Black Horse Western the plot even involves a very graphic sex-scene, although this is important to the storyline. Bannerman also includes a couple of rare, in a western, elements: a hot air balloon and some Great White sharks.

This has to rank up there with the best Black Horse Westerns I’ve read and will certainly have me hunting through my collection for the other books I have by this author.

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