Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Badge #5

as by Bill Reno
Bantam, June 1988

To a violent land, a frontier yet untamed, came a man who wore a badge of law and order. He faced the myriad dangers and paid the price in blood to become one of the most enduring heroic figures of the old west.

When the government forces the Van Horn clan to sell a large part of their hard-won ranch to the Crow Indians, the Van Horn’s don’t like it one bit. They take matters into their own hands to avenge their “honor” and save their failing ranch by stealing a federal payroll. Sheriff Matt London wrestles the situation under control when he captures Barth, patriarch of the treacherous Van Horn gang. But the younger Van Horns won’t sit still for that. They are trouble-hungry enough to kill the son of the local Crow chief, take London’s wife hostage, and force London to decide between his duty as a lawman and the life of the woman he loves.

Bill Reno packs a lot into this book. Each incident seeming to lead to two more dangerous, and often tragic, problems for Sheriff Matt London to deal with. Most of these involve the Van Horn family in one-way or another, some of whom relish killing others for the hell of it. Then there is the forbidden love between Holly Van Horn and London’s deputy, Bill Baker, which proves to be just as dangerous as anything else.

The characters are well drawn, be they good, bad or indifferent. Some of the Van Horn’s, in a way pushed into their desperate actions by events they are powerless to control, struggle to accept what is happening to their family, and Bill Reno creates some excellent tensions between them, particularly when a prank goes horribly wrong. Just how strong is the bond of family love between them?

The action comes thick and fast and is well described, as are the descriptions of people and land. With so much happening the pace of the story is breath-taking. Even though the twist at the end was a bit to easy to forecast it didn’t in any way dampen my enjoyment of this book.

The Badge series ran for twenty-four books, and the author writing behind the pseudonym of Bill Reno is Lew A. Lacy. If all the books are as entertaining as this one then I’m really going to enjoy reading this series.

Get a copy here

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