By Richard Prosch
Smashwords ebook, 2011
Set in 1880s Nebraska, Prosch’s stories in this collection tell of characters out where “settlements were still sparse as wild strawberries.” Prosch’s stories draw fiercely on that solitude. His knight errant on horseback, Coburn, takes trails that sometimes lead to the heart of darkness. Out here, where a villain is free to do whatever he can get away with, a man’s family may go missing and the town where they lived become a mysteriously burned and blackened ruin. -- From the Introduction by Ron Scheer
As you’ll gather from the above paragraph, Devils Nest is a collection of short stories, eight to be exact. After Ron Scheer’s informative introduction, In Old Nebraska, you get the following tales:
Last Day at Red Horizon
Ten Gallon Hat
The Ballad of Dorothy Kotraba
Only the first three have been published elsewhere, and have been slightly rewritten for this collection.
Richard Prosch has created an intriguing main character, John Coburn aka The Peregrine, who appears in many of the stories, and some of the support characters in the Coburn tales star in the others. It’s through these stories that we follow Coburn in his quest to discover what happened to Red Horizon, the town he was returning to only to find his family gone and the town all but destroyed.
There’s some great character development, and never are you quite sure which path Coburn will follow to achieve his aims, that of following the law or breaking it. All this left me hoping that Richard Prosch will write more tales about Coburn as I’d like to see where his trail will take him next.
Having said that my favourite story was the last one, which isn’t about Coburn. Dorothy Kotraba proved to be a very memorable character in a tale full of twists and turns, none of which a saw coming. Devils Nest is worth buying just for this story alone.