By Frank Leslie
Signet, January 2012
While breaking horses in Arizona Territory, Colter Farrow is forced to kill a soldier in self-defense. With the man’s comrades hungry for vengeance, he hightails it to Mexico. There he runs into Bethel Strange, who was kidnapped by a villainous rurale captain. After Colter saves her, they are forced to flee even deeper into Mexico.
While on the run, Bethel resumes the search for her father, the outlaw Jed Strange. A year ago, her father took up with Mexican gunrunners in order to send money back to the family, but he never returned. Her search places them in the middle of a savage war between gunrunners, bronco Apaches, and a notorious Mexican bandit. And with the soldiers closing in, Colter’s chances of saving his own hide are getting slimmer by the minute.
The 3rd book in Frank Leslie’s Colter Farrow series starts violently with Farrow gunning down six men in a blink-of-an-eye, and from that moment the action never lets up.
The first part of the story deals with the unfortunate incident that leads to Farrow killing a soldier, this in turn sees him becoming a wanted man by the army, never mind that bounty hunters are still after him – the author explains why in this book but the full events leading to this can be found in the first Colter Farrow novel, The Guns of Sapinero.
One of the major appealing factors of this series for me has been seeing Farrow change, accepting his new role in life as a man on the run, accepting his natural ability with a gun and that he’ll have to use it to kill again and again.
Throughout the story Farrow will find himself mixed up with all kinds of fascinating and well-created characters, such as the singing bandit known as the Balladeer, and young Bethel Strange, whose reaction to seeing her fathers distinctive pistol in the hands of another man is both surprising and memorable.
It’s whilst trying to escape the soldiers that Farrow gets a couple of fleeting glimpses of the young girl that he will eventually team up with in the search for her father. A young girl that will become attracted to Farrow, this crush leading to some humorous exchanges as Farrow tries to turn her down. The hunt for Jed Strange turns up a neat twist that has a bittersweet sting in the tail.
Frank Leslie (really author Peter Brandvold) includes some great scenes of high tension, none less so than when Farrow is buried alive in water.
The Colter Farrow books are fast becoming one of my favourite western series, and I just hope it’s not too long before I get to read what happens next.