by Ralph Cotton
Signet Jan. 04
This is the first in a series known as Gunman’s Reputation.
Lawrence Shaw once got a boost out of being the quickest gun alive. Now he’s partial to telling gunfighter stories rather than living them. But that doesn’t stop every ornery shootist with an itchy trigger finger from trying to pull iron on Fast Larry Shaw…or a group of gamblers from wagering five grand on who will kill him…or a gang of cutthroats from slaying his wife while in search of him. Racked with guilt for not saving his beloved Rosa, Shaw vows to shorten the life expectancy of her murderers…and any other hardcase who even thinks of sending hot lead his way.
Ralph Cotton writes a gritty story filled with action that holds a couple of surprising revelations, a book that builds smoothly to the final gunfight. His characters are well-drawn and fuelled my imagination, how can you not create a lasting image of an outlaw who paints his thumb nails blue?
Ralph Cotton also adds intrigue by having Shaw’s best friend, Cray Dawson ride with him on the vengeance trail. Dawson and Shaw grew up together and Dawson also loved Rosa, would have married her if she hadn’t taken Shaw for her husband.
Dawson also struggles to come to terms with the gunfighters’ lifestyle as everywhere they go men come out of the woodwork to challenge Shaw, to gain the reputation of being the man who killed Fast Larry Shaw. Other people, those that want to be near him yet are repulsed by him, those who admire and idolize him. Women too who find it a thrill to be in his company.
Dawson is no slouch with a pistol either and soon he gains an unwanted reputation of being a fast gun too.
The author also adds an extra element to the story with the betting, each time Shaw kills the pot gets bigger.
Ralph Cotton seem to enjoy giving his characters fancy names such as Fast Larry Shaw, Undertaker, Sammy Boy White and Blue Snake Terrill.
Well worth a look and I’ll be reading the follow up, Between Hell and Texas, very soon.