By Steve Ritchie
Hale, February 2012
After receiving a four-month-old letter from his mother, in which she asks for his help, Caleb McConnell (the Sabinas Kid) leaves Old Mexico, heading home to Colorado. But along the trail, an attempt is made on his life and The Kid begins to understand something of his parents’ troubles.
His challenge is to discover why someone is after his folks’ ranch, the Rafter MC, and who is behind it all. When Caleb finally reaches Del Norte, he encounters one surprise after another. Childhood friendship are renewed, old grudges are re-energized, and guns blaze across the Rio Grande Valley as the mystery unfolds.
I’d long been looking forward to this, Steve Ritchie’s second Black Horse Western, after really enjoying his first, The Black Mountain Dutchman, so very much. Would it match, or even surpass that excellent debut novel?
Steve Ritchie certainly has the knack for creating memorable characters that soon have the reader caring about them, hoping they succeed with their ambitions, even though he puts all kinds of obstacles in their path. With so much mystery surrounding the seemingly pointless land grab for his parents ranch and no leads to follow the reader has to wonder how the Sabinas Kid will find out just what is going on. In fact The Kid seriously considers giving up and settling down for the easy life but others aren’t about to let this happen.
Another mystery surrounds his fathers’ activities, trained and respected in the fields of geology and archaeology, he has been searching in the mountains for something. Now murdered, along with his wife, he can’t be asked either. When Caleb does discover the answer he is still none the wiser and he hits another dead end.
Steve Ritchie’s tale grabs the readers’ attention from the opening sentence and his prose then refuses to let the reader go until the final word has been read. His plot is well thought out and offers plenty of surprises along the way and includes well-described bursts of action.
So, to answer my own question, yes this book definitely matches the quality of his first novel, which means I recommend it to all western fans.
Sabinas Kid is officially released on February 29th, but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.