Monday, 29 November 2010

Hombre's Vengeance

By Toots J. Johnson
A Black Horse Western from Hale, November 2010

Fifteen-year old Zachariah Smith has been growing up fast ever since he witnessed the murder of his father at the hands of brutal cattle baron, Dale Bryant. At first, avenging his father’s death isn’t at the forefront of his mind as he struggles with the harsh reality of surviving alone…but then he meets two of Bryant’s other victims and he realizes that he must join the fight for justice.

Although Zac knows that lead will fly and he will probably die trying to stop Bryant, he is determined. Zac is back, no longer a wronged boy, but a man. Now is the time for the hombre’s vengeance!

This story takes place over a number of years that sees the young Zach go into hiding, changing his appearance and taking on a new name. The book is filled with strong characters of both sexes. Zac’s desire for vengeance becoming complicated when he discovers the girl he’s fallen for is the daughter of the man he intends to kill. This leads to soul-searching and heartbreaking discoveries.

Hombre’s Vengeance is the first book from Toots J. Johnson and I found it to be a well-written tale that was perfectly paced. Johnson includes a number of cliff-hanger scene and chapter endings that made the book difficult to put down before reaching the final page. The ending tying up all the story threads neatly, including finding out what had happened to a character I thought had been forgotten about.

On the strength of this book I’m sure I’ll be reading the next book from Johnson, whenever that may appear.

Hombre’s Vengeance can be ordered from all the usual Internet bookstores now, but you’ll have to be quick as it seems to be selling out fast.


Joanne Walpole/Terry James said...

Interesting that it takes place over a number of years. It was my understanding that Hale prefer their BHWs in a short/compact time frame.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Mine, too, Joanne, but happily these things are not set in concrete.

Several years ago, Mr John Hale told me "we would not wish to publish" The Lawman and the Songbird. One of his reasons was the "melding of two stories separated by seven years and different circumstances". Another was that Joshua Dillard failed as a hero: his actions were "a total failure in the first seventy pages", and he "barely redeemed himself" in the remainder.

Answering the first objection, I pointed out that several authors on his list, including Louis L'Amour and Vic J. Hanson, had produced books in similar "parts". A story can have unity and be told briskly even when key events are separated by years. "There is only one story. The protagonists are the same throughout; so are the antagonists. Their circumstances are virtually identical, or reflect their earlier ones... The main issues are sustained. The setting is the same."

As for Dillard, I reminded Mr Hale that the book in hand was Dillard's fifth adventure: "His success/failure conundrum is what makes him different, appealing to me and, I hope, readers. He always solves the mystery, disposes of the real villains, but never makes his fortune. I suppose he is like a lot of us -- doing his best and sticking to his values, but never winning the big money! I should think most BHW readers will be happy to identify with that."

Hale did publish the book, notwithstanding its time span and unconventional hero. An offer for the large-print rights was promptly received from Magna for the Dales Western series.