Saturday, 4 October 2008

Deadwood Gulch

 a Ralph Compton novel
by John Edward Ames
Signet, Nov. 2006

Bounty hunting for the last ten years has built Cas Everett a reputation as a quick-draw artist and the enmity of more hardcases than he’d care to admit. But he never expects that hatred to destroy his family. Returning to Texas he finds his home a charred ruin - and his parents and siblings dead and buried. Cas follows the killer’s bloody trail to Deadwood Gulch, where law isn’t welcome...and justice is bought with bullets and blood.

A book that, perhaps, jumps on the popularity of the TV series Deadwood and Al Swearengen, minus the bad language. But does that matter? Not to me.

Cas Everett and his sidekick Yancy Carlson are likeable characters, Carlson’s inexperience in the world outside his own home allowing Ames, through Everett, to explain about life as a fast-gun, surviving on the trail, and how Deadwood Gulch came into being. This though, at times, does come across as a history lesson which could be why the first 100 or so pages of the book seem a little slow.

Nothing really happens as Everett and Carlson head to Deadwood Gulch. Once there, the action picks up, in fact becomes almost non-stop. Ames also includes a few humorous moments and also bases part of the plot around love.

If only this book hadn’t been so long, losing much of the first 100 pages would have made it a better read - for me. Shame, as I’ve enjoyed most of Ames other westerns, particularly those written as Judd Cole – and they were shorter books.

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