By John Legg
Western Trail Blazer May 2012
Lije Paterson, a longtime mountain man, finds a young man wandering the mountains after Indians killed the trappers who hired him as camp helper. Paterson takes on Dougal McKagan for the same position and begins teaching him the ways of the mountains and of trapping.
Over the next couple of years, McKagan takes to enjoying the killing of Indians and taking scalps, much to Paterson’s disgust. Paterson finally sends him packing, but the action soon comes back to haunt him, bringing nothing but trouble and death.
Several years later, Paterson, down on his luck, learns that McKagan is leading a large group of men killing Indians to sell their scalps. With help from an unexpected quarter, will Paterson be able to stop McKagan's bloodthirsty rampage?
Having enjoyed many of John Legg’s books in the past I was very keen to read this one. As expected the book is extremely well written and peopled with memorable characters. Descriptions of landscapes and conditions are vivid and dialogue is believable.
The story takes place over a number of years and through various dealings with Indians the reader witnesses McKagan become a ruthless killer. This leads to some shocking deaths that set Paterson on the vengeance trail. Like when Paterson first helped McKagen, the mountain man will find himself saving another person which leads to happier times once again before the violent final battle with the scalphunters.
Throughout the tale Paterson deals with all kinds of emotions, the sadness of loss, the joy of taking a new wife, the struggle to comprehend the end of the beaver pelt trade, and the burning hatred that leads to the desire for revenge.
If you enjoy books about mountain men, or those that have real people in them (and I can’t say who as that will spoil the surprise), or just want to read a fast moving highly entertaining western, then I urge you to consider Blood of the Scaplhunter.
Available as both a paper book and ebook.