By Chap O’Keefe
First published by Hale in 1994.
As dangerous as unstable dynamite . . . that was Sheriff Ross Kemp's assessment of Jessica Blackwood. She was darkly beautiful, and she was married to the richest rancher around. Mysterious notes, a bizarre accusation and the bushwhack murder of her madly jealous husband shoved Kemp into the biggest trouble of his life. Tried and convicted on a trumped-up charge, Kemp was sentenced to ten years of living hell in the state pen. His only hope was Jessica's lovely stepdaughter, Ellen, but as Ellen began to uncover the truth she fell into deadly danger from Orson Rymer, gambler and blackmailer, and Snake McClay, evil-minded gunslick. It looked as if justice would never be done!
The fast flowing, easy-to-read story, proves to be a very entertaining book. Descriptions of action and landscape paint vivid imagery and the characters will soon have you shouting for them to be triumphant, or for their demise.
The story is fairly straightforward, with the good and the bad being clearly defined, yet there is an air of mystery too, as when the time comes for the Boyd Blackwood to die the author carefully avoids telling the reader who actually squeezed the trigger, therefore making you wonder if it was who you’d think it would be.
The book contains some excellent set pieces, such as a prison break that leads to a massacre. In turn these events become a race against time, although those involved never know this. There is also a surprising – and somehow fitting – death for one of the main characters, a type of death that you don’t read about that often in westerns.
Everything comes to a violent conclusion that ties all the plot threads up neatly.
The Sheriff and the Widow is available now a great, giveaway price, so how can you not afford to add this to your collection? (At the time of posting this review the book is being sold for $0.99 or £0.86)