Friday, 17 July 2009

Portrait of an Outlaw

by J.D. Kincaid
A Black Horse Western from Hale, July 2009

Scotch John MacGregor has a burning ambition to become as famous an outlaw as his forbear, Rob Roy. And he is well on the way to achieving his aim as he and his gang rampage across the State of Colorado, robbing banks, holding up stagecoaches, and easily eluding the various law enforcement agencies.

However, fate takes a hand when Pinkerton agent, Dave Lansom, meets up with the renowned Kentuckian gunfighter, Jack Stone, and together they combine to track down the outlaws. As Scotch John soon discovers, the pair make a formidable team.

J.D. Kincaid has been writing Black Horse Westerns for twenty years, and a few of his books sit in my collection as yet unread. It would seem that most of J.D. Kincaid’s books feature Jack Stone, and being a big fan of series fiction, I was looking forward to reading this.

I was surprised to discover that Jack Stone doesn’t appear in this book until at least halfway through the tale, but then again the title is Portrait of an Outlaw so I should have expected most of the book to be about the outlaw in question.

The book begins by following MacGregor as he arrives in Colorado, gets himself in a situation that leads to killing a few people, one of whom is a lawman, and finding himself on the run. Thus begins his career as an outlaw. Wanting fame, like his idol, Rob Roy, Scotch John, uses his reporter cousin to spread word about his crimes, and it’s this need to become famous that ultimately leads to his downfall.

The book is very easy to read and moves quickly from one action packed event to the next. Kincaid rarely takes time to describe locations in any kind of detail, just does so enough to give the reader a sense of which part of Colorado we are in and this helps to keep the story moving forward at such speed. Character descriptions are also brief and to the point. The impact of bullets against flesh and bone are quite graphically portrayed, and, here’s my other surprise, there is isn’t any falling in love theme for any of the characters – this is something that seems to take place in nearly all the BHW I’ve read recently. That’s not to say there aren’t any women in the story, indeed it’s MacGregor’s involvement with a young women that begins his life as an outlaw and his kidnapping of another that becomes his final crime.

And does this story make me want to dig out those other J.D. Kincaid books I have? Yeap, you bet it does. Kincaid’s hero, Jack Stone, is the kind of no-nonsense, get on with the job regardless, kind of western hero I enjoy reading about, so I can definitely see myself hunting through my collection for those other books I have sometime soon.

Portrait of an Outlaw has an official release of July 31st but is available now from the usual internet sources.

No comments: