By Charles E. Friend
Leisure, October 2006
Originally published by Avalon, April 2001
Clay Shannon has decided he’s done carrying a star. All he wants is the peace and quiet of a small ranch he can call his own. But then the government names him a U.S. Marshal. Suddenly he finds himself mixed up with a mysterious gambler who has the look of a gunfighter and a man named “King” Kruger, who’s determined to grab land any way he can. From backshooters to bushwhackers, cattle-rustling to murder, Shannon may find he’s resting in peace much sooner than he planned.
As you can see above, the Shannon series was originally written for Avalon – to date there are seven of them – and this is the third in the series. Leisure reprinted the first one, Shannon’s Law, and my review can be found here. Quite why they missed out the second book I haven’t a clue, shame really as Shannon: U.S. Marshal does make mention of previous events in Clay Shannon’s life, some of which were, presumably, told of in book two.
Charles E. Friend writes in a very easy to read style, fleshing his characters out well, although he keeps an air of mystery about the gambler, Kane, which serves as an excellent method to keep the reader hooked to the story. There’s also the question of whether Shannon and Charlotte Alvarez will get together by the end – assuming she’s still alive by then. The reason I say that, is that the author is not afraid to kill off some of his main characters.
The story moves forward at great speed, Shannon having to face attempts on his life and the struggle to get the people of the town to stand against Kruger and his hired guns. If you want a book with lots of gun-action, then this could just be the book for you, as the final part of the story is jam-packed with it, especially when Kruger’s men attack the Rancho Alvarez.
Overall this book is an entertaining, quick, read that makes me wish Leisure had published more of them, but then again I could get the books from Avalon easily enough.
Here’s a list of the whole series:
Shannon: U.S. Marshal
Shannon: Carrying the Star
Shannon: The Road to Whiskey Creek