Friday, 19 December 2008

Shiloh #4

as by Dalton Walker
Diamond, July 1991

Hank Proffitt is a bounty hunter who is also known as Shiloh...named thus after the bloody battle that twisted his soul. A battle that still fills his dreams with grotesque nightmares.

Pinkerton lawman Christian Brady and Shiloh first met in the aftermath of the battle he’s named after. Shiloh is staying at Brady’s ranch, Brady’s wife playing matchmaker for Shiloh and a pretty widow who owns a neighbouring ranch. After spending a night with this young woman Shiloh returns to Brady’s ranch to discover a scene of carnage, brutal slaughter and torture. Now Shiloh wants revenge on the men who killed Brady and his wife but it’s Shiloh who is accused of the crime and the sheriff throws him in jail. Breaking out is the easy part. It’s the crazy lynch mob and cold-blooded posse hot on his heels that’s got Shiloh worried. And when a bounty hunter like Shiloh becomes the hunted…then there’s no defense quite like bullets and blood.

This author, Henry Schlesinger, wrote the first six Shiloh books. Here he presents us with a Shiloh whose character seems at odds with itself. Shiloh comes across as a tough, savvy man, a man who should be alert and quick to react, after all being a bounty hunter his life could hang on his reactions. Yet at times Schlesinger gives us a Shiloh who almost seems dim-witted, easy to catch, easy to hurt.

The book starts at a gentle pace and seemed to take awhile to get to the start of the action which when it comes is brutal, almost savage to the extreme. After Shiloh escapes from jail there’s an exciting chase that for me was the best sequence in the book.

Later Shiloh comes across a con-man and his female assistant who try to rob him. Shiloh nevertheless stays with them while recovering from his wounds, and they don’t try to kill him in his sleep and take what they want. Again this seems a little to good to be true.

So in conclusion not a bad read yet one that seems a little muddled in its charactizations. But if you want blood and guts then there’s plenty of that to keep you satisfied once it gets going.

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