THE DEVIL’S BADLAND
as by J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, July 2009
After Conrad Browning, known as The Loner, takes down the men who killed his beloved wife, he hightails it to New Mexico to visit her grave. There, he gets the surprise of his life: His ex-fiancée, Pamela Tarleton, backed up by a vicious gang of gunmen. Turns out the beautiful Miss Tarleton has a long memory – and she’s never forgiven Conrad for breaking off their engagement and marrying another. On top of that, she blames Conrad for her father’s death. With a band of kill-crazy outlaws backing Pamela’s play, the only way out for The Loner to survive the coming hell storm is by the gun.
I’d imagine the above blurb, taken from the back of the book, is the kind that makes an author grit their teeth in annoyance as it reveals too much of the plot. The author goes to great pains to conceal the identity of the person behind the evil that Conrad Browning has to battle only to have it given away on the back of the book.
This story follows on closely from the first Loner book. The author keeps the reader hooked with the question of who is behind the outlaws who killed Browning’s wife in the first tale, and adds to that mystery the question of why are they intent on turning Browning’s life to misery. Of course this is all explained during the telling of the tale but more detail behind these reasons can be found in William W. Johnstone’s thirteenth Last Gunfighter book, Savage Country (which makes one wonder if both books were written by the same author).
Good to see that this series is now being sold by booksellers other than just Walmart, thus making the books much easier to find, particularly if you’re outside of America. Going by the strength of the first two books this series should be on the reading list of all western fans who enjoy well written, fast paced, action packed books that prove to be hard to put down once started.