By Nik Morton
Beat to a Pulp, 2012
Part of Edward A. Grainger’s Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles series.
In the town of Bear Pines, Mrs. Tolliver has announced she is running for the mayoral office. She’s the first woman to run as a candidate which divides the residents and sets the town into a tailspin. U.S. Marshal Cash Laramie is sent in to maintain peace and order and to protect Tolliver and her family from powerful allies of the incumbent, Mayor Nolan. In a bid to force her to quit the race, things turn ugly ... and deadly. Surrounded by killers who will stop at nothing to make sure Mrs. Tolliver is not elected, Cash wires Cheyenne for assistance, but will help arrive in time?
David Cranmer writing as Edward A. Grainger created Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles and now allows other authors to write about his heroes. Nik Morton choose to write mainly about Cash Laramie in Bullets for a Ballot, although Gideon Miles will have a part to play later in the tale.
This story fills in some of the blanks about Cash Laramie’s past. Indeed it’s way back in 1869 that Cash first meets Esther Traynor who latter becomes Mrs. Tolliver. The story then moves forwards to 1885 and finds Mrs. Tolliver running against a man to become mayor of Bear Pines and that’s where things turn ugly.
There’s plenty of violent action as Cash attempts to keep Mrs. Tolliver alive but he’s up against some very vicious enemies, some he doesn’t suspect. The story is filled with twists and turns and soon takes on a dark tone, which leads to some surprising deaths.
Nik Morton tells his tale at a fast pace and by including so many plot twists it’s virtually impossible for the reader to guess how the story will turn out. Will Mrs. Tolliver win the election? Will she even be alive at the end? What of her son who will be kidnapped and subjected to torture, will he survive? And then there’s the beautiful but sadistic wife of Mayor Nolan, Angelina, what game is she playing? Can Cash and Gideon see justice served? So a tale filled with many questions that make this a very difficult story to put down until they are answered. Gripping, powerful reading that leaves me looking forward to the next story in the series.