This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional collection of reviews of books that are advertised as westerns or historical novels that don't really fit the time zone that most readers of westerns expect of their reading material. Books that I think maybe of interest due to their links with western fiction.
UNDER OUTLAW FLAGS
by James Reasoner
Berkley, May 1998
1917 and for most the Wild West was long gone. But out where the roads ended the Tacker Gang still managed to make a dishonest living. They knew how to ride, hide and were more than handy with their Colts. But eventually the law caught up with them and they were given a choice - serve your country or serve twenty years in jail.
So the Tacker Gang left the frontier and headed for the front and found the war in Europe was a whole new world, wilder than anything they’d encountered before.
James Reasoner has said this is one his favourite books he has written and it’s easy to see why. He merges the western novel with a war novel with effortless ease making for a gripping read.
His characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at breath taking speed. Some of the situations the Tacker Gang find themselves in allow them to use their experience as outlaws for health or wealth reasons.
I particularly liked the fact that James didn’t have the whole outlaw gang become soldiers, two become pilots thus adding an extra dimension to the story.
To pick out a favourite part of the story is almost impossible as the book is such and entertaining read - although the part when one of them is caught in no-mans-land has stuck in my memory.