by Chet Cunningham
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2010
Fourteen-year old Wade Tretter watches in horror as outlaws murder his parents on their small Missouri farm, a few days before the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Wade’s father trained him as a farrier but when his father dies, Wade sells the few cattle they have left and heads west to find the killers. After killing two of them in the spirit of retribution, Wade finds the last two men posing as model citizens in a small Kansas town.
How can he beat the odds and bring these powerful men to justice without hurting their new families?
As far as I know this is Chet Cunningham’s second Black Horse Western, his first, Survival Trail, was published way back in 1995. Chet Cunningham has had many westerns published in America under his own name and a fistful of pseudonyms, and the majority of those I’ve read I’ve enjoyed.
Wade’s War is a much longer book than usually published as a BHW. It has the same number of pages but they are filled with much small type, having at least twice as many word per page than expected, even the chapters start a few lines down from the previous chapters end rather than on a new page.
The first part of the book covers the killing of Wade’s family and his tracking down of two of the killers. Quite a bit of time is spent in various towns where Wade needs to work to keep him in money. The pace of this portion of the tale is good but the story really picks up in momentum when Wade arrives in the town the last two killers have made their home.
Wade’s desire not to hurt the killers’ family prove to be an interesting quandary for both Wade and the reader. Cunningham really keeps the reader guessing as to how Wade will achieve his aim. As well as this there is the mystery of what the remaining two killers are doing. This latter part I guessed as I’ve read many similar plotlines in other books written by Cunningham, namely the Spur series he wrote as Dirk Fletcher. Working this out, though, didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book.
Wade’s War is a must read for fans of Chet Cunningham’s work and should prove to be an entertaining read for people trying him for the first time.
The book is officially released at the end of the month but should be available now.