Wednesday 28 March 2012


A Ralph Compton novel by Matthew P. Mayo
Signet, March 2012

For years Brian Middleton’s father waited for his long-lost son to come back to Turnbull, New Mexico, to run the family’s Dancing M Ranch with him. By the time Brian returns, his old man is dead and buried. Although named in his father’s will as the rightful heir to the family cattle spread, Brian is about to find out it’s not that simple.

Brandon MacMawe, Brian’s half-brother, wants the property for himself – as does the county’s wealthiest rancher, Wilf Grindle. Brian’s got both hands full fending off these men when a wild card rides into town: a no-account con man and killer named Mortimer Darturo, who has ideas of his own for the dead man’s ranch….

The first Ralph Compton book from Matthew P. Mayo is definitely a page-turner. The book is filled with excellent characters the make you want to find out what happens next. Brian Middleton is so much out of his comfort zone that he rubs people up the wrong way without being aware that he is doing so, making it very difficult for people to like him, not that he really cares as he just intends to sell the ranch quickly and return home.

Slowly Brian comes to appreciate what is on offer as he discovers some hard hitting truths about family members, particularly about those he thought he knew. Maybe these discoveries come too late as he and his half-brother are left for dead and the author sure doesn’t make it clear if either will survive thus gripping the readers’ attention, making the book very difficult to put down until the answer is revealed.

The blurb perhaps makes the book sound like another range war story and in part that could be true, but it’s not by the gun that those wanting the ranch plan to take it. Legal paths are one route and another sees blackmail as a possibility. Then there’s the son looking to impress his father and it’s through this desire that things all begin to go wrong.

Matthew P. Mayo tells his story at a fast pace, his plot threads drawing all the main characters together for a savage and brutal confrontation that not all will survive. As well as tough male characters Matthew includes some very strong women who refuse to back down when faced with disaster.

This may be Matthew P. Mayo’s first Compton book but I sure it won’t be his last, and I for one am looking forward to the next.

1 comment:

Matthew P. Mayo said...

Thanks so much, Steve, for the fine and thoughtful review. I'm pleased you like the book and found it a gripping read.