by Larry D. Sweazy
Berkley, October 2009
From the blood he spilled during the Civil War to his beloved wife, who died in childbirth, and his daughters, who were taken by the flu, ex-Texas Ranger Josiah Wolfe thought he had seen enough death for one lifetime. Now, with an infant son and a heart full of pain, he’s rejoining the Rangers as part of the Frontier Battalion. But first, his captain needs him to escort Charlie Langdon to trial.
Wolfe and Langdon had a history together as both lawmen and soldiers – until Langdon’s lust for blood and money made him an outlaw. Wolfe knows his old friend has to pay. But the ride to the hangman’s noose isn’t going to be easy. Langdon’s friends aren’t going to give him up without a fight. And Wolfe’s killer instinct may be his only chance to see his son again….
This is the first book in the Josiah Wolfe: Texas Ranger series, and I believe it is Larry D. Sweazy’s first full-length novel. Right from the beginning it becomes very evident that he’s spent time doing research, such as the background of the Texas Rangers.
Although the book begins by explaining that Wolfe has lost all but one of his family, I found it refreshing that they hadn’t been killed by a band of outlaws thus starting yet another series along the revenge theme. The feeling of loss that Wolfe feels is extremely well portrayed as is his slow return to wanting to live his life again, helped by having a surviving son to care for.
There is much time for reflection as Wolfe escorts Langdon to the hangman’s noose, and this allows the author to flesh out the background to his hero. As well as the struggle to rise from the depths of sorrow Wolfe also has to struggle with trust. Who is telling the truth about the escape of Langdon, can he even trust his fellow Texas Rangers?
The book isn’t as fast paced as many of the westerns I read but it is thoroughly absorbing and before I knew it I’d reached the end and now find myself eager to read the next in the series: The Scorpion Trail.
On the strength of this book it seems that Larry D. Sweazy could well be a new star in the world of western fiction.
Looking at the cover of the book, pieced together by Bruce Emmett who has done many others, I have to wonder what he was thinking? I’ve heard of a horse with no name, but one without a neck? Looks more like a camel. Terrible. Good job we don’t really judge a book by its cover.