By William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, September 2011
For renegades and pioneers, there is no place like Texas – as long as you have a gun and the guts to use it. Now, the Civil War is over. Carpetbaggers and scalawags rule Austin. Soldiers return to pillaged homes. Longhorns roam the wilds and the state is in chaos. Especially in a town called Hangtree.
Sam Heller and Johnny Cross are Hangtree’s newest citizens: Heller is a former Yankee soldier, a deadly shot, and a believer in right from wrong. Cross is a gun for hire with dark dreams of wealth and power – at any cost. By fate and by choice, these two strangers will find themselves on opposite sides of the law and Hangtree will soon erupt in murderous violence.
Savage Texas is the first in a new series and, like many firsts in book and television much of it is taken up with introducing the reader to the many characters that live in this part of Texas. And what a great set of characters they are. Set in 1866 we have some who are returning home after the Civil War, there is also the threat of Indian attack or outlaw at any time. Carpetbaggers are running wild. The Union Army is struggling to control anything. There is the ranch run by proud Mexicans….and many more.
The author tells his fast moving story by switching from one set of characters to another regularly, takes time to fill the reader in on their back-stories. It soon becomes apparent that not everyone is quite who they first say they are, and a number of them are plotting to get their hands on the reward for finding a missing wagon and are planning to double-cross each other once it is found.
There’s plenty of action, from massacres, ambush, single gunfighters taking on large odds, and a great final shoot-out in a canyon. For those who are interested in guns, Sam Heller carries an unusual sidearm – think of Steve McQueen’s character, Randall, in Wanted Dead or Alive.
Savage Texas proved to be an entertaining read that left me hoping it won’t be a year – which seems to be the time gap between books in many of the Johnstone series – before I get chance to read what happens next.