by Steve Ritchie
A Black Horse Western from Hale, October 2010
When Maggie Buckner is captured by a gang of outlaws an unlikely old man known as ‘The Dutchman’ is the only one who can set her free. Outnumbered eight to one, the Dutchman perches on a bench near Savage Peak, watching the fugitives as they ride out onto the open prairie. He adjusts the sights of his Remington No. 1 Rifle and waits as the first rider comes into range. When he stops shooting, three of the captors lay dead.
After striking the first deadly blows, the Dutchman trails the group across South Pass through the unpredictable Wyoming springtime weather, like the fourth horseman of the apocalypse…and surely Hell follows him.
Steve Ritchie begins his tale in the middle of the manhunt. He hints at what has gone before and this technique certainly kept this reader glued to the pages as I soon became hooked with the need to know why the old man was tracking, and killing, the outlaws, what the girl meant to him, and how the story would end.
The second chapter begins nine months before the first and for a large portion of the book Steve Ritchie tells the back-story of his characters. He really fleshes them out well and soon had me caring about their fate. Once the story catches up to the opening chapter I felt myself sharing the urgency and fears of the Dutchman and his companion, Tim, as they track the outlaws. Steve Ritchie’s descriptions of the land and adverse weather conditions being as well told as the rest of the story.
Having read many Black Horse Westerns in the past I was soon thinking I knew how this book would end. The Dutchman would kill the outlaws, free Maggie and Tim would end up romantically involved with her and all would live happily ever after. Damn, was I in for a surprise. Nothing turned out as I expected making the ending of the book hit home hard, leaving me with an ending I’m going to remember for a long time.
According to the dedication The Black Mountain Dutchman is Steve Ritchie’s first published novel, and I’m certain we’ll see many more.
The Black Mountain Dutchman is officially released at the end of the month but is available now from a number of Internet booksellers. I’m sure this one will sell-out fast so, if you’d like a copy, I’d suggest getting your order in now to avoid disappointment.