Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Last Days of Billy Patch

by B.J. Holmes
A Black Horse Western from Hale, 1992

In their physical appearance the Branston brothers displayed an obvious family resemblance, but underneath the skin, they couldn’t have been more different. Joe was a loser, a hobo on horseback, not above swamping saloons for cents as he bummed his way across the west. Billy was a go-getter, making it with the girls; the young kid with the Midas touch, setting up his own ranch in Texas. When Joe found he couldn’t even earn a few pesos in Mexico, he decided to ride north and look up his kid brother. So, when he finally made it to Brightwater, he was full of expectations that his life was to take a turn. It changed direction all right, but not in the way he expected.

B.J. Holmes has a great knack for hooking his reader right from the beginning and not letting him go until the end. Here it’s done by having Joe arrive in Brightwater just in time to witness a funeral, which turns out to be his brother's. It seems Billy died of an accident, something Joe finds hard to believe. The local law – and indeed the other townsfolk – are of the opinion of “good riddance to bad trash”, something Joe cannot accept.

Holmes soon has the reader sharing Joe’s frustrations as he attempts to discover the truth about his brother’s activities. His disbelief at the accusations being part of the well-written book that had this reader not wanting to put the book down until the truth was discovered.

Even though I guessed the twist ending it didn’t really spoil what is in fact a great book, a fast, easy to read story, without padding, that ties everything up neatly at the end.

Well worth keeping an eye out for.

6 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

How old is this one? I was wondering because of the photographic cover style.

Steve M said...

It's from 1992.

I have a couple of others with photographs as the cover art. I'll have to look and see if they're from a similar time period.

Do you like this style of cover Gary, or do you prefer paintings?

Matthew P. Mayo said...

Hi Steve,
I definitely prefer painted covers. I've seen a few photographed covers on Westerns and the props always look wrong, somehow. I have a paperback copy of Elmore Leonard's "Valdez is Coming" with a photo cover that's horrid.

Still, the book you reviewed sounds intriguing....

Cheers,
Matt

Steve M said...

I prefer paintings too.

Having said that I have seen a couple of great photocovers on westerns but they are sadly few and far between.

The Hale photocovers from this time are poorly lit and too simple to be eye-catching in my opinion.

ARCHAVIST said...

Steve - I think I prefer the paintings. I have a B J Holmes - Shatterhand with a photo cover and I can't say I'm fond of that cover either.

Steve M said...

I have that too Gary - Shatterhand and the People - really is an awful cover. Must get around to reading it as I've read the first of the two books he wrote about Shatterhand - A legend Called Shatterhand - I'll post my review of it soon.