DEAD MAN’S GOLD
By J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, October 2009
With his wife’s killers dead and buried, Conrad Morgan – known as The Loner – is on his way to Mexico for some peace and quiet. But on the way he’s sidetracked by some intriguing travelers who are hunting down a valuable golden artifact. They’re not the only ones who want to get hold of the treasure. A running gun battle with some killers lands The Loner and his cohorts in the Jornada del Muerto – a hellish, waterless wasteland in New Mexico Territory. And now it’s up to The Loner to get himself and his new friends out of this arid stretch of land before they perish from thirst…or lead poisoning…
This book begins with a prologue set in Spain 1668, and the events it contains lead to the treasure hunt mentioned above, 229 years later.
Conrad Browning has virtually stopped referring to himself by this name and now calls himself Kid Morgan. Even though he tries to keep away, not get involved, he soon finds himself caught up in the quest for the treasure, and this leads to many deadly encounters, enough to satisfy any reader who likes an action packed story.
The book moves forward at tremendous pace and is filled with great supporting characters, such as Father Jardine and Count Eduardo Fortunato. Even though the reader knows what the treasure is they’re all searching for, the author also adds mystery by not revealing what the secret of the Twelve Pearls is until near the books conclusion. The answer providing a neat sting in the tale which is further developed in the epilogue, and for me made for a great ending.
Like the previous two novels in the series this one really hooked me from the start, and I found it extremely difficult to put down until I’d read the last word. And, once again, I find myself eager to read the next book in The Loner series: The Big Gundown.